Astral Chain Review: A Weeb’s Wet Dream

I will say one thing right off the bat; Platinum Games really outdid themselves with this piece. Astral Chain with Fire Emblem and the upcoming Link’s Awakening is really setting the golden standard for the Nintendo Switch this month. The quirky portable console is on fire and this game might be the biggest ember in it.

Astral Chain is set in a post-apocalyptic game, putting it in a huge bunch with many others. This time, the year is 2078 and you guessed it, humanity is on the brink of extinction. All remnants of the human population have now migrated to a Mega City called the Ark. One that was actually built upon a man-made island funnily enough. The player character/protagonist is part of a police force known as the Neuron. The reason for this name is the link they have to a system that allows them to see their real enemy, the chimera. The chimera are a mix of alien/Matrix esque enemies that you often fight in a different plain of existence altogether. Your job is to well, be a police officer against this unusual threat.

The main protagonist is a created character. The way it works and is established is similar to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. You determine the gender by choosing between a pair of twins. The catch here is that the twin you DON’T choose becomes a major character in the story named Akira. The one you do choose is the one you customize.

While I love creating a character, I’ve expressed in the past how I detest blank slate characters that don’t really contribute anything verbally or emotionally. They sort of just exist to beat things up and nod occasionally, which sounds badass but really isn’t. I can understand why developers do it since it allows for better insertion.

I’m really hoping Cyberpunk 2077 sets a new standard for custom characters though. In Astral Chain, this trope is made slightly more annoying due to the fact that Akira is so much more expressive than you. Makes you wonder how their childhood even went.

The customization is pretty neat. You can make your guy look like any favorite character from an anime or even whatever you imagined your own to look like. There’s a decent amount of options in what you can wear, ranging from head to toe.

Astral Chain is described as an Action game but it’s a lot more than just that. I’d redefine it more to a hybrid between an action and an RPG. The reason I don’t call it an action-RPG is some tropes and mechanics that aren’t exactly there. Things like shaping your character for example, since it’s more of choosing between tools/weapons rather than stats. Still, each weapon has its own unique style.

Astral Chain

I’ve droned on a bit too long though, let me get to my favorite feature in the game itself. That being of the Legion, a weaponized form of the Chimera harnessed by the Neuron to use on the battlefield. That’s right JoJo fans, you’ve got a Stand.

I say Stand because the game’s combat gives me that vibe a lot. You having a robot buddy on a spiritual leash helping you with every attack. I absolutely adore the combat in this game because of how fluid and fancy it can be. Besides the usual camera problems Japanese games tend to have, this one plays amazingly. I was especially impressed with how accessible it was made on the Nintendo Switch. The Joy Cons were really fun to use throughout and I found myself maximizing my combat potential pretty often.

Astral Chain Gene Code | Astral Chain Axe Nemesis Guide

Regarding the topic of accessibility, the game’s difficulty is also greatly adjusted to be playable by every type of player. Whether you just want to get by the story or you’d like a challenge. The game has an auto mode that allows you to chain combos by pushing any array of buttons, sort of like Auto in the Guilty Gear games. This is great for people that want to relax and unwind or for players trying to test out the other Legions to see their entire movesets.

Playing at Manual is obviously the way you’ll want to go at least once. The exhilaration of having control over all those sweet combos is really satisfying. In fact, the only thing missing in my playthrough was a Devil May Cry announcer going “SMOKEY SEXY STYLE!” the whole time.

How to Upgrade Weapons in Astral Chain

There’s a small roster of Legions that you can use to help you not only fight, but also solve puzzles. There’s a sword Legion, a beast Legion, an Arms legion, an Axe legion and an arrow Legion.

The sword legion is the cover boy that acts great for crowd control. They can use these energy waves accentuating each slash that leave enemies stunned and open to your follow up attacks. The design of this Legion is pretty damn sleek and it’s like absolute elegance in combat form when you’re fighting alongside this bad boy. If fancy is your thing, main this Legion.

The Arrow Legion is a more passive floaty boi that sticks and hovers around you. As the name suggests, this is the long range game that allows you to get in close to duke it out with your enemies while Arrow lays down suppressive/covering fire on the enemies around you. Oh, and you can use it for solving puzzles that involve shooting a distant target.

The Arm Legion was my pick and personal favorite. Now, I haven’t seen JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure but I’m very avid in the memes. That being established, Arm Legion is a literal Stand. It sticks to your back like a mech and lays the absolute smackdown on any enemies getting near your front for whatever reason they have. Also, you do bonus damage if you yell “MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA” while throwing punch volleys.

The Beast Legion reminds me of the old Dice game where you basically interact with it as a mount and a combat ally. When you’re not riding this bad boy into battle like an absolute Chad, you’re usually leaping and flipping around each other, decimating the enemies around yourselves.

The Axe Legion I feel like should’ve been named and made to look more like a Shield Region because this one is defensive. The barrier it puts around you either forces your enemies to have to get closer or it gives you ample opportunity to close in on them instead.

Have I mentioned each Legion is literally attached to you through an Astral Chain? It Makes this game one of the most cleverly titled games in my opinion at least.

One thing though, the game does have local multiplayer. Don’t get excited though, it’s utter crap. The second player takes control of the Legion and camera while player 1 has the protagonist. Unless you and your co-op buddy are mentally linked by a brain Ethernet cable, don’t try this mode. It’s just as bad as when Mario Odyssey gave player two control over the hat. It’s not like Mario ever had a second character. A brother. Wearing Green. One who’s name rhymes with Puigi.

Anyways, back to Astral Chain. When you’re not beating the shit out of Chimera, there’s actually a lot of downtime in this game. These non-combat segments are why I don’t classify this game as just of the action genre. Between missions, you can often roam around your HQ and interact with all the colorful characters of the game. You can also do real police work at the start of every assignment. Patrolling the Ark and talking to the citizens. Often times, you’ll find side quests in the form of charmingly mundane tasks like getting a kid’s balloon out of a tree. Did I mention you also do these tasks with your Legion? Fun shit.

In conclusion, the bland protagonist and multiplayer features of this game are the only things that hold it back. Besides that, you’re looking at one juicy gaming package to sink your teeth into. Good luck gamers, we live in a Society.

9.0

Astral Chain Review Score


Astral Chain is a cleverly designed action pack anime paradise that combines Cyberpunk vibes with a very intriguing buddy system using your faithful Legion allies.