Hybe, the company behind immensely popular K-pop stars BTS, is getting into video games. The first release from the Korean company’s newfounded games publisher Hybe IM (with IM standing for “Interactive Media”) will be Astra: Knights of Veda, a 2D RPG with more than a touch of Dark Souls and Elden Ring to its heavily-armoured bosses and big scary dog monsters, if its first gameplay trailer is anything to go by.
Astra is billed as a 2D dark fantasy RPG that mixes together the real-time combat of beat ‘em ups with the progression of a roleplaying game as you toughen up your squad of four knights by chopping through its fantasy world of Planis. The game is built around a story that will have over 200 cutscenes and full voice acting, with developers Flint promising a “rich” narrative.
The game’s reveal trailer shows off characters wielding swords, spells and bows – while dodge-rolling for their lives – against a variety of enemies including knights in hulking armour, red-eyed knights on horseback, a hairy dog beast straight out of Bloodborne and a mountain of muscle that reminded me of Elden Ring’s Hoarah Loux.
There are also brief glimpses of more monstrous creatures, including a flappy demogorgon-like nightmare and a sort of eyeless humanoid decked in massive gold necklaces, who I can only assume is the rich cousin to the child-eater in Pan’s Labyrinth.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you of Astra’s “…but Dark Souls” credentials, there are also some shots of gothic cathedrals, dragons, big golden doors that open verrrrrrry slowly and some kind of weird fetus that ties into the game’s story surrounding a dark plague, mysterious rituals and a Mad King.
Arguably less of a riff on the Soulslike formula is the game’s apparent love of open cleavage, and characters who say things like “Jeez, you’re making me blush.”
Flint seems fairly in acknowledging Astra’s inspiration from across other games, with promises a fresh spin on what’s come before: “With elements inspired by various games and genres, players can expect an exciting new type of game they have not encountered before.”
The game will allow you to team up with other players to take down its bigger bosses in co-op, or fight against rival players in PvP, all using what Flint calls “a fully manual, 2D combat system”.
Astra: Knights of Veda has been in the works over at developers Flint for seven years now, with the studio including former Nexon, NCsoft and EA Korea veterans amongst a team of 120 devs previously responsible for Dragon Blaze – a mobile RPG that has seen 20 million downloads since, so it seems like they know what they’re doing.
For its part, Hybe IM is the picture of hubris, with the publisher saying it’s “confident in calling its premiere title a ‘grand masterpiece’”.
That prediction will pan out later this year, with Astra: Knights of Veda due to arrive on Steam, iOS and Android – with cross-progression supported between PC and mobile – by the end of 2023.