Astral Chain: Unique Gameplay

With so many genres available in the game industry, it’s no surprise that some developers, indie or well-known, end up becoming specialist developers for specific genres. The combination of experience, skills, and in-depth knowledge related to the genre makes them able to mix quality products that are unfortunately not to be missed. In the hack and slash action genre, which also sometimes includes a few RPG elements in it, the name Platinum Games becomes “king”. Collaborating with many giant publishers who don’t hesitate to give up responsibility for their important titles, Platinum Games finally returns with the exclusive Nintendo Switch game – Astral Chain.

Plot

Astral Chain takes on a daunting future setting. Regardless of the technological advancements that they have achieved, humans are in fact threatened with extinction. But refusing to give up so easily, humanity succeeded in setting aside differences and building a giant ship called “Ark” that functioned like an island in space. On it, humans try to rebuild everything. As you can predict, it will not run as smoothly as imagined.

Mankind must face a new threat – monsters called “Chimeras” coming from another dimension called Astral Plane. These various forms of monsters seem to make the process of kidnapping and withdrawing humans from the earth into their world as the main motivation. Unfortunately, just ordinary people will not be able to see and feel them. Every process of their appearance only manifests in the form of destruction, death, and chaos.

This problem must be faced by a pair of twins who become your main protagonist, when they have to deal with Chimeras for the first time. Their equipment and abilities as police are not enough to deal with threats that they cannot even see. In such a precarious situation, they were suddenly recruited by special forces called NEURON. The Division had found a solution to fight the Chimeras, by creating a tool that was able to bind and control them. A chain that will turn them into monsters that stand on our side – Legion. A truly effective solution.

The Best Visual on the Nintendo Switch

With the limited performance of Nintendo Switch, mesmerizing visual quality has never been the main attraction of this one hybrid console. The same thing that made many of the latest AAA games end up not being released there. Although there are AAA games that are struggling to plunge into the potential market with this growing number of gamers, it has to sacrifice visual quality and resolution, as happened with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Because of these conditions, no one would have thought that Platinum Games would be able to offer something special with the Astral Chain.

The results are truly amazing. I don’t know the technical knowledge as to what Platinum Games spawned for this game, but they have to be recognized as spawning a game that deserves the title as the Nintendo Switch game with the best visualization so far with Astral Chain. The taste of anime is indeed flowing thick from the design of the world, characters, and technology in the style of cell-shading they carry. But the combination of colors and blur effects that flow from so many moments will instantly make you fall in love, complete with super dramatic cut-scenes that are ready to make your adrenaline peak. The taste of the action anime did flow thickly from him.

Unfortunately, Astral Chain also leaves a disturbing problem in terms of presentation – visual effects that can sometimes be felt, excessive. It is not uncommon for you to encounter a mass battle situation against several monsters at once and it is difficult to know what is really happening because the visuals are “too crowded”. It’s hard to catch what the enemy is doing, it’s hard to find out which enemy you should prioritize, and sometimes it’s hard to see whether your attack is indeed in or not. What you can count on is just small clue combination attacks while avoiding it when there is a suspicious enemy animation appearing. And we still haven’t talked about the annoying camera problem.

The good news? His presentation from the audio side ended charming. Regardless of whether you choose to use the English VA or Japanese VA, you will find dialogue that sounds quite natural for the size of a video game. This is helped by stories that do not rely much on the tropes of Japanese anime characters so that VA English is still able to facilitate the existing story. Although we ourselves still recommend you to enjoy it with Japanese VA. As for the OST that is playing? Comes with a variety of genres that appear at important moments that exist, it is enough to build the atmosphere that you really need in the situation, especially when fighting big bosses.

Legion and Hand Cramps

Those of you who are familiar with Platinum Games action games seem to be familiar with the taste of the action games they are making, something they also maintain in the Astral Chain. That’s right, we are talking about the fast and intense side of action, while providing benefits for those who can indeed evade at the right enemy attack timing, which in Astral Chain – annulls the damage that occurs while making you access different attack animations if followed by a button attack. The frame for the execution of this evade is also large and not difficult to do as long as you really pay attention to exactly when the enemy attack animation will enter.

The main character will be armed with three main weapons – pistols, batons, and swords, each of which has its own advantages. Guns are range weapons that have little damage, but are effective against flying enemies. Batons for quick attacks against enemies that can avoid you effectively, while swords act as heavy weapons with large damage that is slow, but qualified to open the enemy “defense”. Changing weapons will be an activity that you must do often to fight against variations in countless Astral Chain enemies. Variations that each of them will have animated attacks, weaknesses, and also certain strategies to be subdued, making Astral Chain status as a cool action game increasingly shining.

What makes it unique, complex, and exciting? That you have to control the movement automatically outside the main character that you control before. By using a combination of two buttons, you can move this Legion manually which is limited by the length of the chain that ties it. This one chain is indeed multi-functional, because in addition to pointing out the boundary of motion between you and the Legion, it can also be used to get its own strategic advantages in battle. You can move it to roll up enemies that will bind them for a certain amount of time. You can also attach damage energy that will be shot back and forth between the ends of the chain to produce extra damage. You can also adjust the process of attraction, towards Legion or vice versa, for more combination attacks.

Of course, these Legions are not just a foundation for fighting. Their role is equally important in the exploration process which is also a “portion” of the Astral Chain gameplay itself. There are some items that can only be accessed if you have a certain Legion, including side missions that you can complete and new areas that you open. Fortunately, this game also provides a definite logo to provide information about which Legion is needed to “finish it”. As an example? You need ARM to lift heavy objects, AX to destroy objects with energy barriers, to BEAST to search and track side quest items needed based on their sense of smell. This makes the role of the Legion more significant than just a tool of war.

Because indeed, Astral Chain builds on existing gameplay not only based on the action side only. To support your role as a special police officer, the story which is divided into several Chapters (FILE) will usually be divided into two phases in each section. There is a part of the battle that usually ends with a giant boss fight at the end, and there is also an exploration section that asks you to enter into a limited part of town to complete the various side missions. This second part will usually require you to use Legion in accordance with their respective functions, complete with supporting IRIS technology that plays a role like “Eagle Vision” in Assassin’s Creed that allows you to see clues and information better.

In the end, a diligent exploration process will reward you with something worth pursuing. One of the most significant of course is finding a variety of items that will help you along the way, from healing items to Ability Codes that can be used to inject permanent buffs into your Legion. The Legion that you use does not have an EXP Points based skill system, but can be strengthened using something called Gene Code obtained from the enemy he defeated. He must be paired with materials that you can also get throughout the game to open slots for more qualified Skills, Abilities, and buff status. Sometimes you also have to choose, because the same material is also needed to strengthen your physical attack weapons and Legion “home”, making them more effective. While the character level increase system depends on the Rank system collected through the points you get at the end of each Chapter.

Post-Game

Astral Chain is not an action game that can be calculated “long”. Divided into 11 separate chapters, which, as we discussed earlier, are divided into a process of exploration and action into a fairly balanced proportion, you will only need about 15-20 hours to complete the main story. But of course there is a little “Metroidvania” sensation here. There are some things that you will not be able to open, finish, or destroy when taking the story according to progress because the process of acquiring a new Legion that really depends on the story. But Astral Chain provides the opportunity to re-explore previous missions whenever you want, even when you are working on completing the progress of the current story.

The side missions provided by Astral Chain are also quite diverse and do not have to always end in conditions where you have to end up eradicating Chimeras or fighting large bosses. There are also missions that ask you to chase and capture suspects using your Legion chain, some ask you to simply search for information and match clues to questions that arise, to use your Legion to hunt for key items. Variations like this are indeed not arguably making Astral Chain not repetitive, but the rewards presented alone are enough to be a strong motivation.

Conclusion

Astral Chain is a Platinum Games-style action game that offers all the appeal of their products so far, but one level is better through an attractive visual approach, unique gameplay, and “noise” that is even ready to cramp your hands. There is no reason not to glance and dive into this charming action game!



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