Ashina: The Red Witch
Developer: Stranga Games
Other Releases: Red Bow, My Big Sister
Initial release date: 4 June, 2022
Genre: Adventure Game
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Vita
Ashina is a game about Ash's exploration of the spirit world, discovering more about her mother and herself. This was funded by a Kickstarter created in July 2020 and is a prequel to My Big Sister which Stranga Games confirmed is getting a remaster soon. I started this three weeks ago, but I paused on writing a review until I felt I had ventured far enough into the game to give a full review. I am posting a full playthrough to YouTube and feel I've reached a point where I can discuss the game and not spoil too much!
The colours work beautifully, everything is clear and well designed I have nothing negative to say about the design whatsoever. Many I know have said it has huge Undertale vibes and I don't disagree.
The one partial downside I believe is the lack of voice acting; I feel that good voice acting would elevate this game beyond belief. The characters of this game are so wonderfully designed, with their sass, wit, and originality. You could know exactly who is speaking with no hints from the language alone. I am a Tanto stan, likes sleep, likes food, can't be spoken to whilst eating. I also love Tena and her huge confidence; I think everyone could use a bit of Tena's flair.
This characterization alongside the story of Ashina is why this is one of the games I have loved most this year. There is a lot of reading which can put some people off, the puzzles are simple, but I feel these mechanics aren't the main focus. This is a story, an experience.
I have probably given the characters about 20 different voices going along, but one thing has stayed consistent: the voice they have in my head. They know who they are and they express it perfectly. It sounds strange to talk about characters as living breathing beings, but if Tanto isn't out there somewhere, scamming free sushi, I don't need to know.
I don't want to spoil the story of the game in this review, and the reason why is because I am desperate for people to experience it. The game is making me feel like I was Ash; I've been annoyed, frustrated, disgusted, and more. For that last one, all I'll say is bath sludge; I know you shivered too...
I feel as if I have nothing but praise for this game but to focus on the downsides of Ashina itself is simple. If you want difficult puzzles and intensely detailed fight scenes, this may not be your cup of tea, but for genre fans and those who enjoy a good story and characters, it is a must-have.
This game is currently half price until the end of July at £3.59/$4.99 and at this price I have no hesitation in saying buy it. It is worth it. At its usual price of £7.19/$10, I still think it's worth it; if you like good characters, design, and story, this is a great choice. In my heart, this is a 10, but if I am going to give it an honest review I will have to go with an 8.5/10 it is a very good game within its genre and in general. With voice acting and maybe a few more difficult puzzles this could have easily been higher in my view, but objectively I think this is just a great game.