Reviews, Video Games

RTF Video Game Review: ASTRAL CHAIN

rtf-video-game-review-astral-chain

In a world where humans are close to extinction, they finally create a weapon that made them able to fight back. In this story, you follow two twins that decide to join the elite force name Neuron Task Force

On February 14, Nintendo revealed a new game called Astral Chain for their current hybrid console. There wasn’t much shown, but it caught people’s attention (myself included). Now around six months later, the game is finally here, so why not write a review about it?

Gameplay

Astral Chains’ gameplay is filled with intense and thrilling action that puts all of your reflexes to the test. It is an adrenaline rush to the 10th degree, but with those much-needed relaxing moments inserted here and there to achieve a satisfying flow. These moments take the form of finding a missing dog or helping someone move boxes from one place to the next. The action-packed portions of the game, which are the majority, can be quite challenging. I found myself in these scenarios often, having to retry levels over and over again; but without losing any enjoyment of it. The game does provide the player with an opportunity to keep up with the difficulty that lies ahead of him via skill trees and upgrades that are accessible as you progress.

Controls

The controls are rather simplistic, considering that reflexes and timing are the keys to your success. If you go with the standard control scheme, which is only one of multiple control settings, the player’s input comes through the JoyCon’s trigger buttons and control sticks, with the occasional use A button; which is used to access various action commands like opening a chest or climbing up a ladder. The way you climb up and jump around is very reminiscent of pre-Breath of the Wild Legend of Zelda games, where if you want to jump from one ledge to the next, you need the help from of your Legion instead of being able to jump over on your own. While this might sound annoying at first glance, it does fit with the style of gameplay and controls that Platinum Games is going for.

My issues with the game’s controls arrive with those sections that required the use of motion controls. Be it with the JoyCons or the motion sensor from the pro controller, I believe that the motion control sections could have been worked a lot better. Though it worked the best on handheld mode, these sections proved to be more frustrating than fun overall. There is a multiplayer section where one player controls the Legion and the other controls the Avatar… (sigh) Don’t even bother with it. Using only one JoyCon each, while playing co-operative on one screen is not the most optimal setup. If they wanted multiplayer here, it should have been multiplayer versus or co-operative through online or wireless rooms.

Visuals, Music and Story

The visuals are a stylistic use of cell-shading that gives the game a gorgeous anime-like aesthetic and feel. Due to its remarkable presentation, the average gamer could easily confuse Astral Chain with an animated movie or TV show. However, while the models and the environments look remarkable, I sadly have to admit that the lip-synching is one of the games weakest features. Whether the fault goes to the animations or the actors or voice-over direction not adlibbing to fit the moment the mouths move is uncertain; but in this day and age it is surprising how off it seems. The story could be considered rather generic, but that does not mean it is badly written. The same goes with the voice acting. It fits within the context of what they wanted to achieve and doesn’t feel out of place at any time. The game’s soundtrack implements a mixture of techno and rock. Though it may sound like an odd combination when introduced, once you dive into the game’s environments and world, each track fits perfectly with every scenario. Just the music alone makes me kick myself mentally that I did not acquire the limited edition of the game, which comes with the game’s soundtrack. Yes! it is that good!(particularly the track that plays while you the final boss). I wished I had more bass in my speakers while playing the game. Platinum Games can’t release the soundtrack soon enough.


Summary

Astral Chain is a game that is a gorgeous off-the-rails experience. It is the adrenaline-fueled action that Platinum Games is known for, with controls that work great overall; though not without some minor incidents with the motion controls. With a story, soundtrack and visuals that blend together as well as cheese on a pizza; it is a Nintendo Switch game that definitely deserves your attention. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I recommend you do so. Though not my type of game, I really enjoyed every second of it and I believe you will too.

Grade B+

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Isak Wolf

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