It’s One of the Most Stylish Games You’ll Ever Play
PlatinumGames has made their entire name off of being the “stylish action” developer, but that’s never been truer than with Astral Chain.
Astral Chain is easily one of the best looking games on the Nintendo Switch, with a fantastic cel-shaded visual style that resembles a CG anime like Knights of Sidonia or Ultraman.
It’s probably the most anime-like game you’ll ever play, and I mean it. Astral Chain even has its own anime-style opening and ending, with original songs and all.
The game style carries over to both cutscene direction and the actual combat. The camera does a pretty good job of following the action, and the sheer spectacle of everything is impressive, even while Astral Chain makes sure you always have control.
If you’re a fan of anime you’ll likely adore Astral Chain, as it wears its inspirations clearly on its sleeve.
A Combat System Unlike Anything Else
The absolute most unique thing about Astral Chain is its combat system, which is quite literally unlike anything you’ll find in gaming.
The main conceit of Astral Chain’s combat is that you’re basically controlling two characters at once, your hero and their Legion. The Legion are invaders from another dimension called Chimera, that Neuron has captured and bent to their will using Legatus technology.
Controlling your character feels very similar to NieR: Automata, as you can switch between different weapons and pull of a super quick dodge to avoid enemy attacks.
There’s no blocking, so just like in NieR combat becomes a dance of dodging and attacking. Things really shake up, though, when you summon your Legion in.
You can control the Legion’s movement, as it’s attached to you through the Astral Chain, although the creature attacks on its own.
You can wrap the chain around enemies to bind them, use powerful Legion abilities, and much more.
Astral Chain has five different Legion and each one functions completely different, and as the game goes on you’re encouraged even more to swap between them on the fly in combat.
It’s a combat system that’s fast and frenetic, but never makes you feel like you’re out of control of what’s happening. Layer on some humongous boss battles, and you have one of the best action systems Platinum has ever created.
Fascinating Cyberpunk World
While Astral Chain certainly takes many inspirations from anime, fans of the cyberpunk genre will find a lot to love, and there’s quite an interesting world and story at the game’s core.
Astral Chain takes place on Earth, where humanity has been driven to the brink of extinction by the appearance of another dimension called the Astral Plane.
This dimension corrupts the world and humans, and terrifying beasts called Chimera emerge from it and attack. Now humanity has moved to a mega-city called The Ark, where a militaristic police force keeps the peace and protects them from the Astral Plane.
While Astral Chain doesn’t generally delve too deep into the major cyberpunk themes of morality and corporate corruption, they are still there.
There’s some great world-building the game does to teach you about everything, especially you read all the database entries you can uncover.
Science gone wrong, government espionage, and restriction of information are just a few of the things that contribute to Astral Chain’s cyberpunk themes.
On top of that, the game just screams cyberpunk visuals with dazzling neon splashes, futuristic technology, and grungy city streets. While we’re waiting for Cyberpunk 2077, Astral Chain is the perfect type of game to give you that fix.
It’s Accessible to Newcomers and Veterans Alike
One of Astral Chain’s biggest strengths is how accessible it is to anyone and everyone, so don’t let thoughts of difficulty turn you off from playing it.
Upon starting the game you have three different “play styles” to choose from, which essentially function as difficulties. Casual is an easy mode that lets you cruise through the game, Pt Standard is a more difficult “typical” action experience, and Unchained is a hand-off play style that automatically takes care of combat.
If you’re wanting to simply explore the world and story of Astral Chain you can choose Unchained to breeze through, or if you find you’re having trouble in Casual you can even switch to Unchained at any time, then switch back.
While the different play styles do affect how much damage enemies do and how aggressive they are, the big difference is the number of revives you get, with Casual granting you four to start with and Pt Standard granting two.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, on the other hand, you’ll unlock Pt Ultimate after beating each File the first time. This gives you zero revives and makes enemies even harder, allowing for the “Ultimate” action experience.
The good news is that you can jump into past Files anytime you want at the start of a File, letting you play around with different difficulties as much as you want.
It’s an adaptive system that makes Astral Chain welcoming for any kind of player, something that’s great for a system as appealing as the Nintendo Switch.