Astrologaster review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Developer: Nyamyam
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I don?t think I?ve ever played anything quite like Astrologaster before.

I don?t make that claim lightly. I?ve played tonnes of Katamari games. I?ve played a kart racer where the karts were people. In the past year alone, I?ve played not just one, but two Choose Your Own Adventure-style visual novels based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft in the past year, not to mention a pair of noir-styled adventure games starring anthropomorphized animals. I?ve played whatever Wurroom is.

But Astrologaster is still in a class by itself. Here?s how its eShop page describes the game:

?13 clients come to see you 5-7 times seeking advice for personal, professional and medical problems. By examining the stars in the sky, you diagnose and determine answers for your clients? problems. As well as affecting the storyline, these choices will alter your clients? satisfaction levels. Satisfied clients will write you letters of recommendation, and with enough of these letters you can obtain a medical licence from the University of Cambridge.”

As you can probably tell, there?s plenty going on it that paragraph — the game is set in Elizabethan England, when medicine was still in its biles and humours stage, and you play as a doctor/astrologer who consults the stars to find causes for clients? aches, pains, and maladies. On top of that, your character, Simon Forman, is based on a very real — and very controversial — ?doctor” of that age.

Somehow, though, this barely scrapes the surface of how odd this game is. Nowhere in that description, for example, does it mention the four-part choral harmonies that are liberally scattered throughout the game (and available on Bandcamp, if you?re curious). It also leaves up the pop-up book-style visuals, with each new scene literally popping up as you turn the page.

And, most crucially, it leaves out the humour (as in the funny stuff, not as in what Forman and his contemporaries believed in bleeding out of you). Astrologaster is very, very funny — provided you like not-so-subtle quips about men going in and out priest holes, all kinds of euphemisms for sex (my favourite being ?strumpy-humpy”), and lots of other bawdy humour that, truthfully, wouldn?t have been totally out of place in some of Shakespeare?s comedies. It also undoubtedly helps that not does the game feature plenty of solid writing, it also features a cast of voice actors who make the dialogue come alive.

To be clear, Astrologaster probably isn?t for everyone. Humour is, of course, very subjective…and that?s without even factoring in the choral music. But if you?re looking for a game that?s completely unlike anything else out there, look no further, because this is definitely it.

Plug In Digital provided us with an Astrologaster Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A