Before You Buy: Astral Chain Preview
According to raving reviews so far, PlatinumGames is releasing another action-packed success. Even before its launch, the game hosts dozens of reviews that score it between an eight or nine on the one-to-ten scale. PlatinumGames is known for its action games, and Astral Chain does not seem to disappoint by introducing new dynamics to the gameplay that will keep fans entertained for the twenty hours it takes to experience the majority of its content.
The game takes place in a cyberpunk setting in the not-so-distant future where there are rifts from the Astral Plane that allows monsters called “Chimeras” to invade and reak havoc. As a police officer part of the “Neuron” task force, it is up to you to check parking meters and fend off the seemingly endless monster- but don’t worry, you’re not just armed with silly mundane weapons like a baton or a weak little gun. Instead, you have a Chimera too, but it has been domesticated and bound to you by your astral chain (oh hey, that’s the title) and is called a “Legion.” You unlock up to five Legion characters over the course of the game, and each one gives you a different combat style to play with.
Of all the features introduced, I think that the control of two characters, yourself and your Legion, is by far the most interesting mechanic. You can only have your Legion out for so long at a time before it overheats, but not only is the Legion powerful and pleasing to watch, the chain that tethers it to you is also a tool at your disposal. By running at enemies with the chain stretched out to closeline the enemies, and you can also run around your enemies with the chain to tie them up and stun them.
There is a high level of customizability when it comes to your character’s cosmetics, weapon, and skill trees of his or her Legions. And to take you away from the action, Astral Chain features plenty of puzzles and silly quests to diversify the experience of the game beyond fast-paced action.
The director of Astral Chain is Takahisa Taura, the lead game designer from Nier: Automata (one of my personal favorites)- and it certainly shows. Visually, the game is very different. It’s beautiful in its own right, with creatures that are iconically unique alongside characters designed by Masakazu Katsura- but the climactic music and thematic cutscenes are somewhat reminiscent of Nier. The music also reminds me of the movie Akira, which is fitting because whichever twin you choose not to play at the beginning of the game will be named Akira while you can name the twin you choose to be whatever you want.
As of so far, the biggest criticism of the game is the main story. As most commented, it’s nothing really special, kinda what something you’d find in a lot of action-oriented anime. While they praise the characters and side quests that range from intriguing to hilarious, people who aren’t into anime would most likely not be as into the game as those who are. I, personally, am not as big as an anime fan as I used to be, but I admit that this game is even appealing to me.
(Not that I still don’t have some problems with anime. Like, look at those heads. If they didn’t have the long, sweeping hair, they’d have massive foreheads. Either that or they know a hairstyling secret that is as sci-fi as the setting- or, maybe, just maybe, a wig.)
But it goes without saying, if you’re a fan of PlatinumGames, you’re more than likely a fan of anime style and stories. PlatinumGames is known for its huge hits like the Bayonetta series and Nier: Automata, and they are renowned for releasing high-quality action games that have an anime aesthetic.
So, if you already love flashy, anime action games, Astral Chain is a safe bet for you. You can pick it up as of August 30th, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch. Still unsure? Check out some gameplay videos on Youtube. There is plenty of cool action sequences, Legions to control, and a variety of Chimera that may help you decide if you want the game or not.