What is A.W.: Phoenix Festa?
A.W.: Phoenix Festa is a story-driven dating sim/fighting game hybrid that ties in with The Asterisk War anime TV show and manga comic book series. Playing as either the star of the show Ayato Amagiri, or a custom character, you'll need to enter the upcoming Phoenix Festa (a multi-school battle tournament), and win. Before you can do that, though, you'll need to find yourself a partner in one of your female classmates, and train your little heart out if you want to stand a chance of coming out on top.
How do you play A.W.: Phoenix Festa?
In A.W.: Phoenix Festa, you have several months of in-game time to get yourself a partner, train, and get yourself ready for the tournament. Each and every day has an AM and a PM slot, and aside from certain scripted events, every chunk of time can be spent however you see fit, whether you're training and duelling, shopping, or going out on dates with the female of your choice - so it's up to you to try and manage your time effectively.
Training is the key to holding your own in the Phoenix Festa competition, and is as easy as choosing an area to improve from a list, letting you deal more damage with your attacks, bolster your health, or up your defence to reduce incoming damage in battle. The catch is, you can't train for too many days in a row, as it saps at your health, meaning finding a balance between rest, dates, and training is key.
Battles themselves are pretty straightforward - you simply move your character into position and mash the attack button to deal damage, whilst trying to avoid the worst of your opponent's blows. In order to win a duel, you simply need to reduce your opponent's health to zero, or deal enough damage to their 'school badge' that it breaks. Certain strategies deal more damage to badges than others (like using your strong attack at key moments), giving you several options for how you approach each fight.
Outside of battles, the game is more of a visual novel - essentially a 'choose your own adventure' style story in video game form. At certain moments during the story sections, you'll be able to pick a response from a list, with some answers letting you either grow closer to your chosen female companion, or unlock extra scenes.
How easy is A.W.: Phoenix Festa to pick up and play?
Generally speaking, A.W.: Phoenix Festa is a pretty straightforward game, that's easy to pick up and play. Combat is simple and button-mashy, meaning it's never really too challenging, while there's also not really any 'bad' options for you to pick in the visual novel style conversations. Most of the challenge here comes from getting your schedule right, and finding the balance between training, romancing your partner, and resting to recuperate and prepare for another day.
However, it's possible to make the game a lot easier by simply playing as anime star Ayato Amagiri rather than your own created character, as Ayato's starting stats are much higher to begin with, giving you a bit of an easier ride through the game. If you skimp on your training a little when playing as Ayato, it shouldn't matter as much - he also has access to a pretty powerful sword from the earliest moments of the game, too, which again makes things a bit easier.
As the game's heavily text based, that does mean there's a lot of reading involved, so a solid reading skill is pretty much a requirement.
- "*Sigh* First day on campus and I'm already an accidental creeper. This is going to be fun to explain to her..."
- "Ominous... but I guess an Ogre Lux's strength can't come for nothing. I'll be careful with it Claudia, I promise."
- "If you need cash, why not use the Job command to rustle up some dough? You should pick a job that you're interested in from the list. Once you've cleared a job, it's difficulty will increase."
A.W.: Phoenix Festa is pretty middling in terms of mature content, with mild violence, bad language and minor sex references throughout. Violence is pretty tame, with no blood or gore shown, as the game's teenagers face off against each other with swords, spears and guns in competitive matches that end when the other team is rendered unconscious - not killed.
As it's also a dating sim, there are a number of anime ladies you can romance, unlocking slightly risqué scenes showing occasional upskirt shots, or semi-dressed women, accidental chest gropes and one shower scene where the female characters have their modesty only just protected by bubbles and towels. There's a fair amount of double entendres and romantic references peppered in the dialogue too. Bad language, however, is fairly minor too, with words like crap, ass and damn being the only real offenders.