It’s like the Persona and JoJo series came together in a futuristic world with cops!
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: PlatinumGames Inc.
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Genre: Action, RPG
Players: 1-2 [Local]
Official Website: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/astral-chain-switch/
ASTRAL CHAIN - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Who it Caters to
PlatinumGames you’ve done it again! The team behind titles such as the iconic Bayonetta, and NieR:Automata, have now delivered on their promise to give fans another fantastic game that’s full of non-stop action. When we first caught a glimpse of Astral Chain during the E3 Nintendo Direct our initial thoughts were quite honestly, a bit skeptical. On a visual level, it certainly gave us flashbacks of the Bayonetta days and the overall gameplay was a cocktail mixture of a variety of titles. Something felt off, however, at least during that period of time, but fast forward to now and we’re totally awestruck by how incredible this action-packed game is. Astral Chain is for anyone who really loves a great deal of depth when it comes to gameplay since the game introduces really unique features that you won’t find in any other title on the market. One of those features is giving players the chance to take control of what are called ‘Legions’, a Persona meets Jojo-esque type of summon that players can use to take on enemies in battle. More on this in the next section!
What to Expect
These Legions play a quintessential role in the progression of the story, and are what truly make Astral Chain such a jaw-dropping experience. Straight out of the gate you’re thrown into a mesmerizing theatrical cutscene but instead of watching it all unfold, you’re now a part of it all. An important mission has been dispatched to you and immediately the motorbike revs up straight into an explosive tutorial filled with heart-pumping action sequences, and mind-blowing visuals that send your senses into a frenzy. When it’s all said and done you come out of the beginning of the game foaming at the mouth for more, like a hungry dog waiting for its next meal. PlatinumGames struck a chord with us immediately with that opening sequence and that became the segway for what truly feels like Nintendo’s best action RPG title to date. With a multitude of features such as being able to customize not only your character but also your Legion, along with a clever detective gameplay mechanic that truly adds more immersion to the cop experience, Astral Chain is one game you do not want to sleep on this summer.
As we mentioned before, E3 2019 unveiled a lot of great titles and what made Astral Chain so distinct from the others was its visuals. From the moment you laid eyes on the game you knew right away that PlatinumGames had the right idea, and all it needed was a bit of spice to really send things to the next level. The in-game UI has got to be the most intricately designed that we’ve seen in a long time, simply because it really helps to compliment Astral Chain’s focus on the futuristic experience. Not only that but you’re able to fully customize the UI to your liking as well which is something not too many games allow you to do, which once again creates a very unique experience for each player. From every small spark to a massive explosion, to even the astonishing battle cutscenes after slaying an enemy, are designed with impeccable attention to detail and never seem to disappoint. Character animations are smooth as they transition from one action to the other, and Legions look incredible as they move around swiftly to your commands on the fly.
In the sound department, Astal Chain once again creates an impactful experience and really gets the adrenaline pumping, especially during chaotic battles. The mixture of heavy rock solos, chill house, and hard techno beats really just turned the hype meter up from 0 to 100 real quick. The soundtrack is astoundingly refreshing and you’re never feeling a moment of boredom because the music keeps you totally engaged, and pumped full of explosive energy. It really feels as if you’re watching a blockbuster anime film with professional camera work implemented for dramatic effect, and A-list voice actors who help to bring each character to life. While many enjoy the English voicing of the game our immediate bias kicked in and chose the Japanese voicing, and to be honest it didn’t hamper our experience in any way. The only issue we had mainly was with the lip-syncing animations because even with English voicing, the mouth movements just didn’t correspond well to what was actually being said. Understandably so, since we feel that PlatinumGames wanted to place more attention on the overall performance of gameplay, rather than a few added dollars to get the lip-syncing right.
Straight out of the gate you’re blown away by the very well designed tutorial mode that pretty much shows you how to play the game. Once you’ve dived in a little deeper you’ll come to discover a lot of interesting quests that incorporate a very L.A. Noire style of approach, where players must uncover clues in order to help civilians and progress the story. This detective-style gameplay grabbed our attention immediately because not only does it help with creating more immersion for the player, but it teaches you to be very detail-oriented when it comes to your surroundings. Speaking of surroundings, the level design in Astral Chain is truly off the chain in many regards, as it takes reference from a lot of major cities, New York’s Times Square for example, and expands upon it to create something truly unique for players to explore. The open-world experience gives players the chance to roam around at their own pace and really soak everything in, while still reaping the rewards for collecting rare items and Red Matter along the way.
The cool feature titled IRIS, allows players to see the world from a very different perspective, sort of like a new pathway beyond the Matrix and allows you to see things that most wouldn’t typically see. For example, there are some missions where you’re supposed to eavesdrop in a few civilians in order to gather intel on the suspect you’re trying to apprehend. By going into IRIS mode you’ll be able to see a hovering circle around the characters and use your Legion to listen in on their conversation that would not have otherwise been heard in a regular situation. This opens up a large section of the game when it comes to solving quests and aiming for the completionist title, because there are a lot of secrets that you may never see if you just played the game without IRIS available. To be honest, we played with IRIS on throughout most of our gameplay experience because it actually looked really cool, but also made collecting Red Matter easier since at times, because the alternate world was vastly red in its color layout it was hard to collect every piece to accomplish our objective.
The only time we really turned off the IRIS was when we engaged in battle with wild boss battles, which is another amazing point to bring up. Having dabbled with the Dark Souls franchise for a while, we immediately had flashbacks of the game while going face-to-face in boss battles. They felt long and enduring and you always had to make sure that medkits were readily available just in case a surprise attack was to come. This is perhaps what helped to champion the game even more because every battle felt fresh and never dissuaded you in any way. With each new Legion you collect every boss battle encouraged you to play with a different game plan in mind, and so you’re constantly being challenged to think outside of the box when it comes to mixing up your approach in order to come out on top. We’ve had our moments where we succumbed to death due to trying out new methods but luckily the game gives you 2 full batteries which sort of act like an extra life, and so we were right back into the swing of things. We could go on and on about how creative you can be in battles but we’ll leave it up to you to experience it fully to truly get the idea.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
One thing that we should also note is just how versatile each Legion is but also how accommodating they can be at times when you really need them. For example, in the beginning of the game, you’re given a taste of what each Legion can do which is indicated by certain markers located throughout the open world. So when you first start off you only have your Sword Legion available but you’ll see doors, dumpsters and dug up ground that let you know that you can return back to these areas once you’ve collected the other Legions. This immediately grabbed our attention because it encouraged us to keep playing but also, to return back to previous missions to collect extra bonuses that we had missed. This adds a tremendous amount of replay value to the game and tie that in with trying to 100% the game, and you have hands down the best action-RPG title on the Switch.
Astral Chain delivers by luring players into an open world jam-packed full of content, that encourages you to keep coming back for more.
The difficulty levels gradually get harder and with Platinum Ultimate is a difficulty you unlock after completing missions on Pt Standard.
Taking selfies is fun too! Reminds us of Watchdogs in a way!
Things can start to feel a bit cut-and-dried over time, especially when doing sub-quests that have to do with collecting certain items.
We wish even harder difficulties were put in place to really push us to the next level.
Honey's Final Verdict:
There really weren’t that many mishaps in Astral Chain and we’re not surprised by that, considering PlatinumGames’ impressive track record. We only hope that at some point the team will be convinced to throw in some more DLC content to reel players back in but for now, all we can say is great job! Astral Chain lived up to the hype and surpassed it with flying colors with its in-depth gameplay pertaining to Legions, an emotional yet exciting narrative and a presentation that’s truly unmatched in the gaming world. We hope you will find our review to be an exciting read and look forward to more content from us here at Honey’s Anime!
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!