Today we review Astral Chain, a Nintendo exclusive recently released with an interesting style in gameplay. As always, if you don’t want to spoil any elements of the story skip the section between the usual spoiler announcement.
Some may compare some of the mechanics with the former PS2 game Chaos Legion. Astral Chain takes you the player, into the story of a character that oddly enough, manages to overcome a barrier others seem to be unable to overcome. Due to this it makes you one of two
people who are the sole protagonists of this game.
Of course both of the people able to do this are characters the player may choose to play as. At the very beginning you are given the choice of a male or female character. Once selected the other becomes a computer controlled AI that will on occasion appear at your side in battle. The one big thing to note is, whichever one you choose, they suddenly develop the inability to speak, and basically give affirmatives in grunts. Your sibling on the other hand ends up having plenty of self reflective conversations with you the silent wall.
Moving on from this unfortunate setup that Platform Games did, this game actually has a pretty awesome stylized gameplay. You play a rookie cop through the first mission you are launched into a variety of scenarios attempting to save civilians and some other minor things. Obviously this is to let you get coordinated with the game. Once that is done you then run into an enemy you can’t seem to see. At this point your objective is to try and defeat them or survive. As this occurs a special department that handles these sort of situations appears, and pretty much save you from becoming human mince meat.
As this scene progresses, it seems you have been discovered to have some high compatibility with a piece of technology that this special team is using and the leader is instructed to equip you and your brother with your own set. At this point you are then equipped with your first
“Legion”. You proceed to have a quick boss battle that is fairly simple, and once completed you go to the base and are indoctrinated into this department.
The game takes you through three stages per each file, each file is the equivalent of a chapter. As you progress you can find tons of hidden elements in the game with many little missions, and often conversations will give you clues to reaching a 100% completion of the game. Without these clues however, it’s pretty much guaranteed you aren’t going to be getting everything, unless you already know everything. These stages are as follows :
- Prep – This stage is where you can get your weapon upgrades, clean off your Legion, change outfits, and read up files to further the plot lines of the story. You can also get many of your survival items at this point in the game.
- Detective – At this point you will run around the specified area finding clues that will allow you to move forward. Being an officer however you have other responsibilities such as making sure gang activity is kept to a minimum, helping lost children and several other side quests. This is one of the points that you have to pay attention to dialog extremely well. You may often find hidden bosses in these too.
- Action – Here is where you get into the nitty gritty of the combat system the most. They do throw in some puzzles as well, and MANY hidden paths. Don’t be afraid to explore, use your abilities and test boundaries, there were some points that had some interesting puzzles that led to some pretty awesome hidden bosses. If you think you can reach something, more often than not, you can. These stages usually end up with a boss battle as well at the end. These battles were always quite fun and at times could be a bit challenging.
I don’t want to go too in detail about these Legions because obviously you may want to play this game, and I don’t want to ruin the experience, however I will say this : you will run into a lot of areas that contain objects that seem like they can be interacted with but at the point in time you could not interact with it. You can come back later on with the correct Legion for those parts, and they do make sure to teach you very well how to use each and every one of the abilities of the Legions.
Overall This game performs quite well on the switch and was absolutely thrilling to play. Although you could not play as the Legions themselves, you were able to have some minuscule control over them, at least in single player mode that is.
That’s right there is a multiplayer coop in this. However this coop is only possible locally. Additionally you can only do it via the Joycons. One player controls the main character, the other controls the camera. Additionally as the player performs his combo’s the second player
must time what is called “Synchronized” attacks. These attacks often come in a powerful combo finisher, or counters. It’s a bit awkward, and often (if you and your partner aren’t synchronized) you will stumble over each other when your minds think a bit differently.
Overall this game was delightfully fun, and actually tries to get you invested with explanations of how things came to be. However with the shoddy work of making the main character a silent protagonist, and making it the coop features so gimmicky, and some rough camera angles when in some enclosed areas, I have to rate this game as a 3.5 out of five. It’s still pretty good but it can definitely have been better.