Astral Chain released last Friday to resounding success — we gave it a 4.5/5 stars. It’s stylish, smart, unique and above all that, fun. It places a lot of emphasis on its combat too and for good reason: it’s fantastic and extremely satisfying, just as you’d expect from the company behind NieR: Automata and Bayonetta, PlatinumGames.
When you think of PlatinumGames, the first thing that likely pops into your head is combat. It’s almost always third-person action-oriented, always fast-paced and always unique to the vision of the game.
NieR: Automata, a game about robots (and so much more), features combat with a heavy emphasis placed on your robot companion. It equates to what is essentially a turret but it’s a subtle connection to the greater happenings of the world and how it works.
Bayonetta, on the other hand, places all of the combative burdens on the titular femme fatale witch herself. Much like how having a robot companion in Automata makes sense, Bayonetta holding her own entirely in combat makes sense too.
She’s a badass witch intent on bringing down the heavenly hierarchy that would see her burn in hell. Who other than Bayonetta has the gall to fight the literal heavens?
PlatinumGames makes really good games — we all know that. Their games excel for a number of reasons but the connection between the game’s larger themes and plot lines and the combat, and of course how great that combat actually feels, is what makes their games so damn addictive.
Astral Chain is no different.
Almost as if to one-up games like Bayonetta and Automata, PlatinumGames placed a heavy emphasis on combat in Astral Chain and then named the dang game after what makes the combat tick.
In Astral Chain, your astral chain is what allows you to capture and control Legions. These pet-like combat partners, that you can even pet, are enemies-turned-allies after being wrapped up in your astral chain.
There’s a lot more going on in that system but that’s for you to discover when you play the game.
These Legions are then used in combat as partners that automatically attack enemies. You press ZL to control them and move the right stick to send them where you want them to go. You can simply tap ZL to throw your Legion at an enemy and tap ZL to pull them back to you.
It’s actually a difficult combat system to wrap your head around at first, but as you progress through the game, it gets easier. There are multiple Legions and each control differently but again, that’s for you to find out.
The combat revolves completely around your Legion and how you use it and it feels unlike anything PlatinumGames has ever done before.
Not only must you keep track of your character, who has multiple weapons and placement that must be monitored and controlled by you, but you must control your Legion in such a way that you maximize its potential.
Dismiss your Legion too early and you’ll miss out on critical moments where massive amounts of damage could be inflicted on your enemies.
Leave your Legion out for too long and it will automatically dismiss itself into a state where its cooldown is substantially slower than normal. This leaves you alone and vulnerable and with many of the game’s enemies, that’s not a great spot to be in.
It’s this back and forth between what you’re doing with your character and what you’re doing with your Legion that makes the combat in Astral Chain so engrossing.
Both Automata and Bayonetta are fast-paced and for the most part, a button-mashing festival of combos and flashy attacks. Astral Chain still features combos and flashy attacks but it could not be farther away from button mashing.
Sure, you’ll try to button mash your way through combat but the game will quickly punish you. Unlike Bayonetta and Automata, your Astral Chain character will not be dancing around enemies, hopping far above them in the air and dashing their way to safety.
You’re locked to the ground for the most part and reliant on the back-and-forth pull of strategic positioning on the ground created by you and your Legion. Send your Legion left so you can go right to get behind the enemy that chases after your Legion, granting you access to critical damage spots behind an enemy.
Sling your Legion to the left as an enemy charges your way to red-rover the enemy flat onto its back, leaving it stunned and open to a blast of attacks.
An enemy giving you particular trouble can be quickly stopped by wrapping your Legion around them, locking them up for easy damage.
It’s these many systems, of which almost all are created between you and your Legion, that makes Astral Chain’s combat stand amongst the PlatinumGames greats.
It features the challenge of Bayonetta, the teamwork-like components of Automata and all the pomp and circumstance that we’ve come to expect from PlatinumGames. Because of all that, and just how fun Astral Chain’s combat really is, we say this with ease: Astral Chain delivers on the satisfying combat found in NieR: Automata and Bayonetta.
- Astral Chain Review
- Astral Chain Guide Wiki
- How Does Astral Chain Rank Against All Switch Exclusives So Far?
- 4 Things to Know Before Starting Astral Chain