A.W.: Phoenix Festa (Vita) Review
A.W.: Phoenix Festa comes by the way of Kadokawa Games, a sizeable Japanese developer best known for its connection with many portable RPG games as well as the popular series Sword Art Online. It is based on the anime series The Asterisk War and it combines elements from dating simulations with action RPG gameplay and still, manages to find its footing with its fun combat system and interesting gameplay elements.
The plot of A.W.: Phoenix Festa revolves around Invertia, an unprecedented disaster that struck the world during the 20th century. Due to this disaster, numerous cities around the world were destroyed. However, within the meteor, an unknown element called mana was discovered, which allowed humans to make rapid strides in technology. This also gave rise to a new species of human born with unique skills - the Star Pulse Generation. The setting for the world’s greatest comprehensive battle spectacle, the Festas, is an academy city above water surrounded by six academies called Rikka also commonly known as Asterisk.
Phoenix Festa allows the player, to play as the main protagonist Amagari Ayato, or as an original character to progress through the story mode. Ayato himself, starts out very strong, with high attack, defense, insight, and speed stats all around. There are four main characters to meet and a ton of text to read through. The story is packed with high-quality voice acting and has many beautifully drawn anime style gallery screens to unlock. Once thrown into the story, the player will have 12 days to find a partner for festa. The first answer selected in the game will dictate which girl will agree to partner with the protagonist. After choosing a partner you will have 45 days until the festa finals.
One of the interesting features about Phoenix Festa is the RPG elements it incorporates. Throughout the story, the player will follow a calendar system with morning and evening times much like the Persona series, featuring a training system where the protagonist can raise one of his stats each day. The player can upgrade their character’s stats throughout the story.This is where I found myself spending the most time on and it can get a little repetitive. During my play-through, I only upgraded two of the stats as the rest seemed worthless.
At its core battles consist of 2v2 matchups with Ayato and his partner. Overall, combat is fast and fluid and easy to get into, though a little bit button mashy at times. I found the game lock on camera a bit troublesome as it kept changing to a top-down view as I approached an opponent. I did like that you could tap the corner of the screen to lock onto Ayato’s partner when they are in need of help. There are also many different Luxs (weapons) to choose from including short sword, long sword, spear, fists, handgun, and rifle. I played mostly with the long sword, though I occasionally switched it up to try some of the other weapons. I really enjoyed trying out the different types of weapons and each one had its own type of combo that was unique in it’s own special way.
Outside of combat, other events include part-time jobs for money to buy new Luxs, Lux modifications, scheduling appointments to take one of the four girls on a date or requesting a duel to increase Ayato’s rank or intimacy level. The lower intimacy level is with a certain girl, the less likely they will agree to go out on a date. Ayato can try to win the girl over by buying her a gift at the thrift store to raise his intimacy level. Overall the dating portion of the game left something to be desired.
My in-game clock had me somewhere north of 5 hours, but I could have very easily tacked on 10 or more hours to that if I went back to complete each different girls route, unlocked all the CG art, or earned all of the PSN Trophies. A.W.: Phoenix Festa certainly isn’t the only RPG dating sim available on Vita, but it’s perhaps one of the more entertaining ones. Outside of battle, multiple character paths kept me engaged and entertained for hours. However, there’s constantly a hook that keeps me coming back for more, even if it means sitting through mindless grinding sessions to raise my stats. Whether for fans of the anime series or visual novel fans in general, A.W.: Phoenix Festa delivers.
-RPG Dating Sim Elements
-Quickly deteriorates into endless repetition
Review copy courtesy of Bandai Namco