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Steam’s new surprise hit is a free anime party game everyone hates

New multiplayer game Astral Party is Mario Party with anime girls, and it's currently blowing up on Steam for all the wrong reasons.

A cute anime girl with purple hair wearing a hood looks nervous, smiling weakly

There are some things that you expect to pop off on Steam – Baldur’s Gate 3, Starfield. Did I expect Astral Party – a Mario Party-style multiplayer game that trades out Princess Peach for X-rated anime girls – to be pulling over 30k concurrents on Steam? No, I didn’t, and yet here we are.

Imagine Mario Party, but instead of Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi, and company, you have a roster of “cute anime girls” – that’s Astral Party. Blending the visuals of anime games like Honkai Star Rail and Genshin Impact with easy-going multiplayer gameplay, Star Engine Project’s bizarre take on the party genre is blowing up on Steam for all of the wrong reasons.

At the time of writing, 25,048 people are currently playing Astral Party, which only released on Thursday, February 29. The all-time peak, according to SteamDB, comes in at an impressive 31,980, beating out the likes of Overwatch 2 and Street Fighter 6.

A graph from SteamDB showing the player count for Astral Party

Sure, that might be shocking in itself, but when you look at the reviews, you’ll be left wondering quite how this thing has taken off. Currently sitting at a ‘mostly negative’ consensus on Steam with almost 2,500 reviews, players are complaining about everything from translation errors and slowdowns to overpriced microtransactions.

Positive reviews are largely jocular, providing insightful commentary like “you can play as a trash can, 10/10” and “100% Orange Juice, but with hotter characters.” A few of them made me audibly snort.

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Pretty much every review – positive or negative – compares it to 100% Orange Juice which, for those unaware, is a similar party game that’s currently going for just £1.74 / $1.74 until Monday, March 11. By comparison, it sits at a ‘very positive’ rating, so if I were in the market for a cutesy anime adventure, I know which one I’d be leaning towards.

There are hundreds of awesome multiplayer games, though, so be sure to check out our list of all of the best ones. Additionally, we have a rundown of all the best co-op games, if you prefer the chaos of playing with your friends in person.

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