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  1. #1

    Astral Chain [NSW]

    This is a new Switch exclusive from Platinum, and it's an interesting twist on the traditional Platinum action game. You have a companion character who fights with you, who actually does most of the fighting. The companion is on a chain and can be yanked back to your side, thrown at enemies, or used for trick moves like capturing enemies in the chain or tripping them up. It's a neat mechanic and once used to is easy enough to use.

    Visually it's pretty much the best I think we're going to see from the Switch. Resolution is low (apparently dynamic but looks like 720p most of the time) but the frame rate is a fairly stable 30fps. Those technicalities aside, it looks great for the most part, with tons of VFX (nice GPU particles too), punchy lighting, and nice shiny sci-fi art design. Characters are pure 90s anime. In fact the game even opens with an anime style intro sequence.

    I've sunk a good few hours into this so far and I like it a lot. The action sequences, especially the boss battles are as insane as you would expect from Platinum, and they're interspersed with little detective sequences which are somewhat Batman like.

  2. #2
    I'm nearing File 04 and enjoying this. It's essentially exploring similar looking environments before fighting some similar looking enemies and then platforming and fighting in a red void space meaning it's not that dissimilar from the structure of Control on paper but this is a more slick product. It looks great on the system and it's rolled out as an experience really well. Any GOTY claims still feel maybe a tad overblown including claims it's Platinums best combat system. I'm curious what Dave makes of it but to me having to control your own attacks, your legions and the camera sometimes makes for a compromised experience which isn't a problem but I think it stops it being as refined as simpler set ups even though its still fun.

  3. #3
    Is there any hit of the scale of story found in Nier: Automata here?

    The combat in that was pretty good but the world and the characters were what really put it above and beyond for me.

  4. #4
    I'm not sure whether the game scales enemy difficulty down or whether I'm getting better at controlling this but it's beginning to throw larger groups at me and I'm taking them down very quickly all of a sudden. The combat system feels satisfying but it's definitely on the simpler side for Platinum like Nier was.

    Re: the story @ItsThere
    In that regard definitely not, Astral Chain is a fairly simple 'chosen one' action story with just enough to justify the countless fights and some cheesy anime dramatic scenes. On the sliding scale it'd be a lot closer to Bayonetta on that front minus the pervyness.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Superman Falls View Post
    I'm not sure whether the game scales enemy difficulty down or whether I'm getting better at controlling this but it's beginning to throw larger groups at me and I'm taking them down very quickly all of a sudden. The combat system feels satisfying but it's definitely on the simpler side for Platinum like Nier was.

    Re: the story @ItsThere
    In that regard definitely not, Astral Chain is a fairly simple 'chosen one' action story with just enough to justify the countless fights and some cheesy anime dramatic scenes. On the sliding scale it'd be a lot closer to Bayonetta on that front minus the pervyness.
    Thanks SF. I think I'll wait for a bit then, replaying BotW and taking my time second go around so that's the next 60 hours spoken for

  6. #6
    I'm now getting into File 08 which I think takes me into the final third of the game and the amount of combat moves has increased. I wouldn't say I feel like it's become much more deeper but it does feel more fluid as a result. There's a touch of danger to the overall experience as the recycling of environments is starting to happen more frequently too so I'm hoping the later chapters build the game up into somewhere new, File 06 was mostly new but the weakest and most stilted File making File 07 feel like an action fest.

  7. #7
    Finished this now. I really enjoyed this, it's not perfect by any means but as a first outing for a new franchise its a good step. Combat could do with more depth and more variety in environments as the game progresses, it ends very abruptly too but as a straight action title it's been a pleasant surprise.

  8. #8
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    Giving this my attention having finished Control and I'm enjoying it.

    It looks pretty fantastic and runs well, even in handheld mode.

    HUD is a little busy for my liking but apparently you can switch bits off if you want.

    Glad there's an option to switch to the J-dub as the English language track is awful.

  9. #9
    What's everyone else thinking of this, now it's settled in a bit?

    I'm kinda divided over it. I think it looks absolutely fantastic; can't fault that. Then again that's what everyone has focused on.

    As for the combat, I'm not sure? It's fun, but it can get a little crazy considering how much is going on. Starting with the controls (why is the "summon Legion" on zL whereas "dismiss Legion" is on R?!), but also just the number of unusual abilities you've got at your disposal. I've enjoyed it so far, but I'm up to the end of file 4 and haven't died yet... I'm not sure how well the game will cope if it becomes genuinely difficult, as it might just get frustrating. I guess we'll see. Overall I'm not fond of how the Legion even has an energy bar which runs out as they are used and has to recharge; does that mechanic develop into something good?

    The story is kinda poor, though. Already the course of it looks quite obvious, and the dialogue is very poor - like I can work with the hokey, dubbed-anime style that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 effects, but this isn't great. Sometimes the direction of the lines doesn't match their context, or the translation seems off (just now, had a character say "she won't get away again" when chasing for someone that they were pursuing for the first time) or the delivery just seems really flat.

    The investigation segments again, look incredible. The feel of the city's great, and some of the shader effects really are something else, but it feels a bit lifeless somehow; honestly at times it puts me in mind of Station Square in Sonic Adventure.

    Also the platforming doesn't work well. I've lost track of the number of times I've had to deal with that.

    When it's firing on all cylinders it's great, but it's feeling a little mixed.

  10. #10
    I'm assuming R is used to stow your Legion because once deployed ZL switches it between close defence and long distance attacks. After some time I still like it, it's not the deepest of combat systems but depending on the difficulty setting it's not a big problem. Towards the end I needed more health and revival items but never really outright died. I was okay with the story too, it's not great but I didn't expect it to be either as Platinum aren't good on that front (in before anyone mentions Nier Automata which doesn't count as it discounts Square's input). A sequel has plenty to improve upon for sure but as a first effort I was happy with it.

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