You probably know Platinum Games due to their work on the acclaimed Bayonetta series, and although director Hideki Kamiya has assured fans that the third installment hasn’t become vaporware, we probably won’t be seeing the ass-kicking witch in action for a while. Fans of highly stylized hack-and-slash games need not worry. There’s one other title from Platinum that’s well worth looking into on Nintendo Switch until Bayonetta 3 arrives.
Released in August of 2019, Astral Chain is set in a neon-filled, futuristic universe and merges snappy brawling action with investigation and exploration. You’ll be assuming the role of one of two twin police officers in the year 2078, tasked with taking down a legion of dimension-hopping monsters known as Chimeras.
Astral Chain‘s stand-out mechanic when it comes to combat is the use of Legions. Legions are essentially live weapons ranging from a sword to Rush’s badass cousin. Once a part of the problem themselves, Legions were captured by humans and then repurposed. They’re now used to fend off the invading alien army by being tethered to its owner via (you guessed it) chain. They enable the player to not only see the chimera menace (which ordinary people can not) but also clear up the red matter. Besides, Legions are capable of destroying gates to the Astral Plane.
As mentioned earlier, Astral Chain is not an all-brawn affair. During the 12-hour course of the campaign, players can also expect to explore a sprawling city known as the Ark and take on side quests. Here, you’ll do ordinary officer stuff such as using your IRIS/detective view to observe various locations, take down drug dealers, and chat with civilians. You’ll also come across dimensional rifts, which will transport you to one-off sections. This will further explore what your Legion can do in combat and non-combat oriented scenarios.
This leads us to one of the factors that jumped out at us is that this game’s voice acting is superb. They paid some great voice actors that are known for great work in anime and video games. The Japanese and English Dub, either way, you like to hear it you’ll enjoy. No worrying here. The English dub has some heavy hitters such as Brianna Knickerbocker, Joe J Thomas, Elizabeth Maxwell, Allegra Clark, Aleks Le, and Cassandra Lee Morris.
Since release, Astral Chain has been met with overwhelmingly positive critical and consumer praise. Destructoid awarded the game a 9 and noted that “..Astral Chain is introducing new enemy types even through the final level”- something I find to be *very* important in this genre (beating up the same guy over and over with a palette swap towards the end was fine in the ’80s, but doesn’t cut it now). Nintendo life awarded the game a 9/10, going as far as to say “Astral Chain isn’t just one of the Switch’s stand-out hits – it’s one of 2019’s best video games.”
As to be expected with Nintendo exclusives, Astral Chain still stands at its original $59.99 price point for new copies and, to my knowledge, hasn’t ever gone on sale. That said, it looks to be worth every bit of its asking price.