Aether Gazer CBT Preview & First Impression – A Seamless, Lightning-Fast Action RPG


Strategic gameplay may have been Yostar’s claim to fame, but Aether Gazer does not disappoint as their first entry into the action RPG genre. The closed beta test of the game delivers a wonderful experience that aspires to the sci-fi aesthetic, bringing a polished UI, smooth transitions between combat, and beautiful CGs that set the tone for what players can expect going into this title.

*Note that the screenshots and footage featured in this article were taken from the Aether Gazer closed beta test, and do not necessarily reflect the final release.

A Story of Recovering From the Brink of Ruin

Aether Gazer introduces the player to a brief history of the last remnants of the planet, and how a huge-scaled war known simply as “The Disaster” brought humanity to extinction. With no other choice, the survivors of the event were forced to upload their consciousness to the digital network Gaea to live on in a virtual recreation of their world prior to the event. 

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To protect the last bastion of humanity, Gaea’s self-check program created the organization AetherGazer. Taking on the role of AetherGazer’s administrator, the player coordinates with specialized computer programs known as ‘Modifiers’ to combat Visbanes, monsters that threaten the integrity of Gaea with mindless instinct.

A simple search-and-destroy mission leads rookie Modifier Verthandi and her allies Zenkibo and Poseidon to the Source Layer, the home of the Visbanes and a perpetual thorn in the side. Without a way to destroy or seal off the Source Layer without damaging Gaea, the plot’s mystery revolves around finding a way to overcome this issue while investigating the sudden spike of Visbane attacks within secure areas of Gaea.

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The closed beta of Aether Gazer features only five chapters, but every story segment features full Japanese voice acting for every character on the screen except for the Admin, whose identity is left to the player’s interpretation. The story fights aren’t too difficult on Normal, so even players with underdeveloped Modifiers or who are new to the action RPG genre won’t struggle too much. 

Unfortunately, Aether Gazer lacks the option to replay the story, so any players who took a break and want to refresh themselves on the most recent events will find that they’re out of luck. 

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Blitz Through Your Enemies as a Team

In Aether Gazer, combat happens in real time where the player controls a single character to defeat any enemies they face. Each Modifier has access to a melee or ranged attack, three skills that comprise the core of the character’s mechanics, and an Ultimate Skill that can turn the tide in battle. Racking up a combo is the key to success, significantly boosting your Attack and letting you bring pain to your foes!

Like Punishing: Gray Raven, Aether Gazer features a dodge system that rewards the player for avoiding an enemy’s attack just before it lands and activating that character’s Dodge Skill; whether it’s simply slowing down enemies for a few seconds, or recharging the player-controlled Modifier’s resources, learning to use the Dodge action adds another layer to combat. Balancing the need to clip animations to maintain your combo and dodging attacks without depleting your Dodge gauge is a never-ending challenge.

Joining the player are two AI-controlled allies, but picking and choosing who joins you isn’t simply a matter of playing favorites; bringing certain Modifiers together in the same party grants access to an Ultimate Skillchain, but both Modifiers in the skill chain must have a full Ultimate gauge. You’ll have to decide if the benefits of a Skillchain are worth the extra time needed to activate it, as the tide of battle can change in an instant.

Allies do their best to assist the player by getting the attention of an enemy or spamming healing skills if the player’s HP is low. The AI does a very good job of taking care of itself, so you don’t really need to babysit them, though in rare cases their choice to assist the player might get them killed. Allies will also speak quite often in the heat of battle, but thankfully this function can be turned off if the player wishes.

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A lot of care was taken to keep players on their toes, as animations are not overly flashy, and Ultimate Skills never overstay their welcome. Ultimate Skillchains is a picturesque example of teamwork but never kept me out of combat for long enough to feel disconnected.

Character Progression is a Long Trip

Character rarities in Aether Gazer are not so cut and dry compared to most gacha games, as these rarities can be upgraded by farming Intel through weekly challenges or by rolling a duplicate from the gacha. While this means that a Modifier’s rarity is less important compared to what the Modifier can do, the difference in stats between a B Rank and an S Rank character is substantial. Though S Ranks are the highest rarity that a player can obtain from the gacha, the highest Rank that a Modifier can achieve is Omega (Ω)! 

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The gacha system of Aether Gazer leaves a bit to be desired with a 1.60% S Rank rate, but a pity S Rank at 100 rolls that carries over between banners ensures it won’t take too long for a player to obtain a new S Rank character or their Intel. Even without taking gacha into consideration, there are a few more ways to grind for Intel or even an S Rank Modifier!

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Combat in Aether Gazer may be fast and furious, but seeing significant growth in your Modifiers is more of the slow and steady approach. Modifiers must consume Battle Records in order to gain EXP, and raising the level cap for each character is gated by generic currency, farmable materials, and a high enough Admin/Account level! Increasing the skill levels of a Modifier is also locked behind limit breaking, though farming the material needed to level up skills was very easy to do. 

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Each Modifier is equipped with a Weapon, or Access Key, which significantly impacts the damage inflicted by that character. These Access Keys can be equipped with a single Functor, which further boosts the stats of the character equipped with it; A drawback with this system is that the Functor and the Modifier’s faction must match to be equipped. Notably, 5 Functors can revamp the way a Modifier plays by changing the properties of a skill.

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If that wasn’t enough, then each Modifier can also equip Sigils, which provide bonus ATK, HP, or DEF to a character, as well as other special effects if enough Sigils of a set are together. Aether Gazer does have a shop to purchase Sigils directly, though the cost to purchase a single one is pretty expensive for the amount you need. 

To top it off, players familiar with ‘LMD Hell’ from Arknights will be familiar with the same phenomenon, as I found myself low on Ain Soph coins very often just to obtain some small upgrades. 

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Well-Optimized With a Side of QOL

The loading times of Aether Gazer were astonishingly low, whether it was simply traversing different menus or repeating a stage. To test the limits of Aether Gazer, I had the game open and active for many hours to see how long the battery would last starting from 100%, and at the highest graphical settings possible. Using a Samsung S21 FE, the game lasted a surprisingly long time while only warming up my device and clocking in about 7 hours. 

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I may not be able to speak about other phones, but devices with similar processors will have no issues enjoying Aether Gazer’s dazzling special effects or slogging through long battles.

Being able to directly customize the user interface is a fairly rare sight in mobile games of this genre, but Aether Gazer is an exception to this standard. Players are given the option to move and resize almost every part of the combat screen, with up to 3 different setups to play around with alongside the default layout. 

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On the other hand, the control settings also featured buttons from a controller and keyboard keys. It remains to be seen if the UI and controller settings remain the same during the official release, however. 

Farming materials and the currency weren’t necessarily difficult, but it was time-consuming as there was no option to use skip tickets and directly obtain rewards; I would still need to complete a level to gather materials, but if I expended more stamina prior to starting the fight I multiplied the number of rewards obtained. To my dismay, I wasn’t able to access a 3X multiplier unless my Admin level was at least 40! 

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Aether Gazer is an Excellent Combination of Strategy and Tactics

Given the amount of grinding in this game, a 30-second battle adds up over time when repeating the level over time. Players who are just interested in the story won’t have to worry, but those who are interested in maximizing the potential of their characters will find a long journey ahead of them. 

Despite sharing similarities with Punishing: Gray Raven, Aether Gazer sets itself apart with storytelling, art style, and strategy that the company is often praised for. With impressive visuals, fluid gameplay, and very few issues, the game is ready to make its mark on the Action RPG genre this year!

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XlN9zovBb1Qh2e Aether Gazer | Global Yostar Games Rate: 4.3 Install