Astral Chain is the newest of Platinum Games entries into their “Look how awesome our combat is” library and is something I have looked forwards to for quite a little while, and something I mentioned daily to Respawning’s own Javier about how much I wanted.
So to say I was a little hyped about Astral Chain is an understatement of the highest degree.
Platinum Games is one of those developers that I often forget about until they release a game, then I remember that all their past titles are my favourite games on a console; it’s very well documented that my favourite game this generation is NieR: Automata for example, so I had high hopes that Astral Chain would take the position of my favourite game for the Nintendo Switch.
And you know what? It is.
So here I was, starting the game live on air with all the hype I could muster pushing me forwards and… I started disappointed. The game started a little slow and my character did not feel as though he should be fighting in a Platinum Games title. Everything just felt a little bland and clunky to me. This feeling lasted for the best part of about 10 minutes until I unlocked my first Legion, and the lights and excitement started with me thinking… Ahhh, now THIS is a Platinum Games game.
The combat, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, is what really shines through on Astral Chain. Platinum have really nailed the ability to chain together flashy looking combos that make you feel like an absolute badass taking down monsters. Whilst it seems a little shallow on the surface, the game’s training section does a fantastic job to highlight the depth of the combat, showing the player how to chain together different combos and utilise the chain that links the Neuron Agent to the Legion for fantastic effect.
One of the unique things that I loved about Astral Chain is that from the second you unlock your first Legion, you are put in control of two characters at once. Whilst this takes a little getting used too and can be a little confusing at first, it lends itself perfectly to Platinum’s unique blend of combat strings and deep combat. The Legion will act of it’s own accord the majority of the time assisting the character in unique ways but you still have the feeling of complete control over the Legion and the Neuron Agent, moving both independently into strategic locations to kick ass and solve crimes.
Which leads me nicely into the plotline. In Astral Chain you play as a rookie Neuron Agent, a special task force of the police who use the Legion to solve crimes and beat up monsters. You are the last stand to stop humanity’s extinction. As per my usual review fare, I don’t want to go into too much of the plot as I find this annoys me more than anything else when I read other reviews and large portions of the story are spoiled for me, but the story is pretty standard Japanese fare that will delight even the most diehard weeb such as myself.
Sound is something that I find to be really important in Platinum’s other titles, the music and general sounds of combat really promote the epic feeling that you want when kicking ass and is something I feel was done perfectly in games such as NieR: Automata, a soundtrack to which I am still listening to, to this day. Astral Chain is no different, when you get into a combat situation and the guitar kicks in, it just makes the player go “YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH!”. This is literally the only description I can fathom for it but I will say, I have had the Ark Mall combat phase music on repeat on YouTube as I write this review so a lasting impression on me it has definitely had.
Something that really surprised me with Astral Chain is just how absolutely stunning a game can look for the Switch. I know Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey had pretty good graphics and both brought something special to the table for the console, but both pale in comparison to Astral Chain. It’s an absolutely stunning game that is easily the best looking game for the console. I found myself just staring at the environments and characters while I was playing for minutes on end just in awe of how pretty a game it really is.
Graphically this extends to the combat as well, Platinum Game’s trademarkable flashiness is felt to full effect here, easily rivalling the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of how it looks.
Ultimately, Astral Chain is everything I wanted from a Nintendo Switch exclusive. It’s become a game that I can easily sink 3 hours into in one sitting (after the Facebook Stream ended I found myself playing more until late into the night) or it can be a game I quickly grab 5 minutes on when on the loo or the bus. It epitomises everything that is fantastic with the Nintendo Switch whilst still bringing it’s own charm to the table that is unrivalled in 2019.
For sheer joy and impeccable combat I am going to give Astral Chain 10/10. In my eyes this is the perfect game for the Nintendo Switch and an absolute MUST for console owners.
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