Astral Chain is, without a doubt, one of the best action games currently available on the Switch, and elevates the genre to a whole new level.
When Platinum Games, the studio behind action masterpieces such as Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, announces a new IP – you know you’re in for a spectacular experience.
Astral Chain is a Switch exclusive, and yet it’s already one of the most popular games available on any platform, and with a good reason. The game is a wonderfully bizarre mix of anime, cyberpunk, head-spinning action, and… cats?
The Last Resort
In the not-so-distant future of 2078, the remnants of humanity are huddled in a huge megacity called The Ark. The rest of the world was destroyed by the Chimera, a race of mysterious and extremely hostile creatures. The special task force Nuron goes through inter-dimensional portals to fight the Chimera on their home turf, with the aid of living weapons called Legion. These Legion creatures are domesticated Chimera attached to the Nuron warriors by a chain of pure energy.
Our heroes are twin siblings chosen to serve in the Nuron force. You’ll select the twin you’d like to play as (either the male or female one) and immediately join the action. Seconds after you finish customizing your character of choice, you’ll find yourself riding a futuristic motorcycle through waves of enemies, exploding vehicles, and cyberpunk environments.
The plot of Astral Chain is straight out of a dystopian amine movie and revolves around the origins of the Chimera. It has a few cool, yet somewhat predictable twists along the way, but the highlight is the interactions between the different characters. You’ll get into family drama with your twin, discuss life in The Ark with your fellow officers, and help a toilet fairy find some toilet paper. You read that right the first time.
Astral Chain is a weird game at times and strikes the delicate balance between overly silly and overly gloomy. The story has a lot of serious moments, plenty of humor, and a bizarre obsession with cats.
Two Are Better Than One
The Legion companion is the truly innovative element in the game. It’s not another weapon you wield but a wholly separate entity, so during combat, you control two different characters. You can use your Legion when exploring the world as well, as it can help you solve puzzles and overcome certain obstacles.
You start the game with only one of these creatures, but you accumulate more as the game progresses. By the end, you have a full squad of them to choose from. Having a Legion by your side adds a layer of tactics to any combat situation. Each of them has its own fighting style, abilities, and skills you can use against different enemies to take advantage of their weaknesses.
During battles, your Legion attacks automatically without waiting for a specific command. You can order it to attack different enemies or use different skills at the right time so that you can chain together attacks and combos. Controlling both your main character and its Legion is a challenge, and requires pretty much every button on the controller. Thanks to a steady learning curve, you’ll be pulling off amazing combat moves and spectacular finishers in true Platinum Games fashion.
In addition to your Legion, you’ll have grenades, boosters, and a futuristic police baton that can transform into a gun or a giant sword. Each weapon is useful in its way, but it isn’t a particularly impressive arsenal. Still, you have the freedom to develop your fighting style and tactics as you see fit.
The camera could have used a little more work, though. Some angles make it hard to keep track of two separate characters in combat, especially in handheld mode.
Proper Police Procedure
When not fighting Chimera, you’re running around The Ark to solve police crimes. In the station, which serves as a sort of hub, you can chat with the rest of the Nuron task force, run combat simulations, upgrade your gear, and discover side-missions.
When out on a case, you’ll explore a seemingly seamless map. However, the game is somewhat linear, and you can’t go where you’re not supposed to be yet. There’s always an invisible barrier preventing you from straying too far off the mission area.
While Astral Chain is undoubtedly an action game, Platinum Games did a great job adding more diverse gameplay, like puzzles and even platforming. You’ll need to look for clues, question witnesses, and complete side objectives to uncover more information on the case you’re working on. Even though these are all relatively simple tasks, they never feel repetitive; on the contrary – they all feel significant and essential to the mission.
Looks Absolutely Heavenly
Astral Chain looks fantastic, both in handheld and TV mode. Naturally, it isn’t as smooth as other current-gen titles, but it is still one of the best-looking games on the Switch.
The anime-style graphics are superb, with attention to even the smallest of details. The cyberpunk, dystopian environments are appropriately gloomy, with the bright graffiti and lights contrasting with the deep blues grays of the buildings.
One look at any screenshot is enough to show you how the cel-shaded models pop against the city’s backdrop. When combat starts, attacks, and skills send beautiful sparks of energy everywhere and highlight the visuals even further. It’s a great looking game.
With Astral Chain, Platinum Games proves it is back to creating astounding action titles with unique combat systems and tons of fun content.
If you’re fan of the studio’s previous work, this is more than a safe bet. Even if you’ve never playing anything by Platinum, but want an action title with tight combat and the occasional comic relief, Astral Chain more than delivers.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.