As many of you will know, I own a Switch, and NEVER play it! It’s been a (albeit, rather beautiful) dust collecting ornament for over a year now. I did enjoy my time with Breath of the Wild until I realised there was no narrative and then quickly fell back in love with my PlayStation 4. However, in a bid to break my current “Trophy Addiction™” and with all the awesome reviews Astral Chain was receiving I thought it perfect time to switch back to Switch!
Developed by the action game masters at Platinum Games (famous for titles including Bayonetta, Transformers Devastation & my personal fav, NieR: Automata), you kinda know what to expect from Astral Chain before booting it up. Fast paced combat perfection, a crazy storyline filled with a quirky cast, a brilliant soundtrack and beautiful to look at.
After my first few hours with the game, I can certainly say it doesn’t disappoint on any level so far. Very rarely will I get a new game and struggle to put it down. Usually it takes time to warm up, time to get into the mechanics and time to get hooked. However with Astral Chain I pretty much played 5 hours straight until I had to go to sleep. Otherwise there was no getting up in the morning.
So, what do I think after my initial 5 hours?
First of all. There is no denying just how wonderful the game looks (In handheld mode – I must admit I have not hooked it up to the TV yet), it’s vibrant with neon colours everywhere, stylish and the world feels solid. There are numerous difficulty settings and aids to help if you haven’t played a Platinum Games game before. If you don’t want a challenge at all you can opt to have the game handle the combat for you. And after completing a level you unlock a ‘hard’ mode to go back and challenge yourself further.
The first 5 hours gameplay is split across Astral Chain’s numerous gameplay mechanics. Exploring the police HQ and completing training assignments (which is highly recommend). Here you can also upgrade your equipment, change your costume/appearance and even go to toilet (looking at you No More Heroes) in a haunted cubicle. Next up, you’ll be visiting various crime scenes out in the game’s world and (much like Detroit) doing some detective work to piece together clues by talking to locals. I really enjoy this change of pace, the world Platinum has created is engaging and full of charm. Finally, once your detective work pays off, you’ll dive straight into the combat!
To me, the combat initially felt a little out of my hands, a little difficult to understand and possibly a little overwhelming. But I think that’s the point. You get bombarded with all this ‘stuff’, to then have it stripped away and slowly built up again. Teaching you in a digestible way how to utilise each of the X Baton weapon settings and what your Legion can do. Legion? Well, this is the thing. Unlike previous games where you control the main character during combat, Astral Chain lets you double team the bad guys. Think part Pokemon, but where you fight alongside your monster friend. By the midway point of the second File I was taking down large enemy gangs with a stylish flow that Platinum is known for, and I haven’t even scraped the surface yet I am sure.
I have really, really enjoyed my time with this so far. I would urge anyone who has a passing interest in action games and owns a Switch to give it a go. I’d probably go as far to say anyone who is a fan of Platinum Games and doesn’t have a Switch, to buy one right away! A bold statement after 5 hours play, but what a 5 hours they’ve been!
Don’t agree, well you know where to find me… On my Switch, battling bad guys on Astral Chain!
Thanks for reading! ∆\