Preview: Astral Chain is the anime police action game I didn't know I needed
The Nintendo Switch has had some astounding titles this year already but also has a few more gems on the horizon. With the likes of Luigi's Mansion 3, the next Zelda, and Pokémon Sword and Shield are the most talked about, it sucks that no one has given Astral Chain the attention it deserves.
The game, which was announced earlier this year, was placed in a Nintendo Direct alongside many other titles and has rarely been hyped about or discussed since then. The game is also set to come out in August, which isn't usually a big month for blockbuster game releases.
The number of times that we have been able to watch this game in action either through videos online or at Nintendo events, but never getting actually to play it, was mind-boggling. So imagine our relief when we could finally get some playtime into Nier: Automata's Takahisa Taura's directorial debut.
Of course, Takahisa Taura isn't the only superstar name attached to the product. The game's supervisor is Hideki Kamiya, who worked on both Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, and features character designs by manga artist Masakazu Katsura of Zetman fame.
Combining all these names into a title like Astral Chain, however, doesn't mean that the game is guaranteed to be a success. This, the question "is it fun?" resonates a lot. Thankfully, I am here to tell you that this button-mashing police anime action game is not only fun but also crazy and something that you never knew you needed in your life until you finally play it.
And while the skepticism around the game can be justified, due to it being ANOTHER anime-inspired action title from the folks over at Platinum Games, we are here to tell you that it something you shouldn't worry about. If a game is good, it's good, 'nuff said.
It might just be one of the best Nintendo Switch games coming out this year— but we will get into that more in our review later this month.
Getting into the nitty-gritty
It's easy to get lost in the lore and world of Astral Chain right from the get-go due to the mysteries that surround the many weird happenings.
In the game, you take on the role of one of two Police twin siblings who need to face off against hordes of beings known as chimeras who bring destruction and devastation to everything around them. To assist you, the Police have learned how to capture and wield the chimeras by turning them into a loyal being called "Legion."
Only by combining the powers of the main character and the various legion, syncing your attacks and weapons together, can you possibly solve all the mysteries, find all the clues, and bring peace to the world. While the combat sounds simple, trust us, it's not. The mechanics have a high risk, high reward to them, that only the most skilled players will be able to take advantage of.
Regardless, you get a sense for what Platinum was going for from the very beginning with an emphasis on police work, investigations, and solving crimes. For instance, in one mission shown off to death during E3's demo of the game, you have to search for clues around an area to help you find out precisely what happened before moving on. To do this, you will need to solve puzzles and even use the invisible nature of your Legion to wiretap civilians that don't want to talk to discover the truth.
The police work doesn't stop there, either. You even get punished for going against the law by doing stupid things like littering or crossing the road when the light was red. Then again, you are also rewarded by cleaning up litter off the ground and doing other positive things for the community.
All this helps you get lost in the metropolis as you immerse yourself in one of Platinum's biggest worlds yet.
For every game that has influenced Astral Chain, the game also does something a little differently and makes game mechanics it's own. From the first dozen hours we have played, it feels like Platinum Games has learned from all their past successes and failures with Astral Chain to create a well-made story-driven action game with a lot of quirks.
The world is massive, the gameplay is incredible, the game looks amazing, everything has a lot of depth, and I have already invested way too much time into the game in the short period I have owned it. I'm still struggling to get through certain areas and find all the secrets, but I am eager to see what awaits me at the end of this epic action-filled adventure.