It’s been more than 10 years since Platinum Games unleashed its first project and since then, the Osaka-based studio has defined and redefined the action game with brilliant releases including Bayonetta, Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. But there’s a sense that the firm wants to take its signature style in new directions: Nier: Automata produced brilliant results and the newly released Astral Chain is the next stage in the company’s evolution.
Combining its established arcade action with exploration, investigation, story-telling and puzzle solving, Astral Chain stands as one of Platinum’s most ambitious projects to date. It’s also a very difficult game to describe. As you would expect, combat plays a significant role, but this time the scope of the experience has been expanded. It has been described as a ‘synergetic action game’ – a descriptor that refers to the eponymous Astral Chain – which links the player character with a being known as a Legion, a mechanic that influences almost every aspect of the gameplay. From combat and investigation to simple traversal, the bond between the player and this Legion is key.
At its core, Astral Chain is Platinum’s take on a Cyberpunk-style world, influenced by the designs of genre epics like Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed. The world is split between puddle-soaked streets, dilapidated back alleys, the pristine Neuron HQ and the alternate dimension from which the game’s primary threat has arisen. As expected, Astral Chain is based on Platinum’s in-house technology and there is a focus more on pushing the Switch hardware and getting the most out of the fantastic art design.
Read more: eurogamer.net