Review: Astrologaster‘s Shakespearean Pop-Up Book Story Pushes The Medium Forward
Popular PC/mobile game Astrologaster recently made a journey to Nintendo Switch, and as it turns out it’s right at home there. Developed by Nyamyam games back in 2019, now you can experience the narrative driven adventure on your home console. The choice is yours, and with this game it’s all about your choices.
Astrologaster puts you in the shoes of Simon Forman, an aspiring doctor that has yet to get his medical license. His aspirations reach for the stars, in more ways than one, as Simon treats his patients by reading the constellations and star movements to give them advice or even predict their futures, whether or not they like the answers he sees in those stars.
Astrologaster’s story is presented in a wonderful pop-up book motif with every new segment presented at a turn of the page, and characters designed in perfect papercraft. The transitions provide a remarkable fairytale backdrop to the proceedings along with musical transitions sung by a chorus of English carolers, spelling out the plot as it unravels. Astrologaster is fully voice acted with such impeccable timing and emotion, you’d think that you were watching a full Broadway play. Its presentation is exemplary, and were its adult content removed, it could function as a children’s interactive story book.
As far as gameplay is concerned, playing as Simon Forman is a delicate endeavor. In an attempt to prove his legitimacy as a doctor, Simon takes it upon himself to take on patients and solve their problems. One by one the patients are given a brief lyrical introduction followed by a full conversation explaining their issue. Then the stars are presented with varying solutions and dialogue options to choose from. Picking the right answers proves difficult. Do you try to make the patient happy or tell them the truth? The “right” answer results in favor with the patient but wrong answers will have them leave your office upset.
In most cases, the conversations are light and funny, often leaving me curious for a second playthrough with different selections. Upsetting Avis Allen with suggestions that her husband’s inability to perform his “husbandly duties” were due to a “crick in his back” was a hilarious encounter. Selections can have consequences though, as some patients return to discuss the advice you had given previously. Give poor financial investment advice to Thomas Blague and you will be sure to hear about it. The back and forth with every patient felt natural with the old English accents rarely sounding awkward.
The story of Simon Forman follows his journey of pursuing his medical license via patient letters of recommendations. There are dozens of patients, many with repeat visits leading to interesting one off stories to continued tales of woe and comedically failed dinner parties. Most patients receive a satisfying arc with ongoing visits. The stories proceed with Simon’s quest receiving occasional updates and story points. Unfortunately with that, it’s resolved rather quickly and unsatisfyingly, with a few loose threads left dangling. While disappointing, it’s not jarring enough to take away from Astrologaster’s overall presentation.
Astrologaster is a Shakespearean comedy full of choices to be made and new patients to meet. Each character spins new sordid yarns that you absolutely cannot wait to untangle. Unfortunately the overarching story’s ending feels rushed with some arcs feeling unresolved. Otherwise the art style, voice acting and overall package is one that you want to show your friends and family if only to exemplify the medium as art. This game, like the plot, has a lot to unpack.
Astrologaster will be available for Nintendo Switch on February 18th.
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