Astral Chain - Reviews & Impressions

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#1 Posted by glots (4422 posts) -

Are you craving for a new third-person action game this week, but feel like Control is not anime enough for you? Well luckily for you, Astral Chain is coming out this friday on the Nintendo Switch!

Platinum's style has never quite clicked with me and I think their only game that I've played through was Vanquish, which I enjoyed for it's gameplay and greatly disliked for it's not-so-bad-that-it's-good-but-just-bad story and characters...oh wait, I did also play Nier: Automata. Didn't love it, but thought it was decent. However, I could maybe go for this one just for the visuals and colorful gameplay alone, so I'll be keeping my eyes on a discount price.

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#2 Edited by chaser324 (8719 posts) -
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#3 Posted by Rejizzle (1147 posts) -

@chaser324: Yeah, I'd probably be more lenient than Austin on a lot of the issues he raises, but as someone who really just plays dmc to get to the bloody palace his comments about the pacing give me some reservations. Game does look cool though...

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#4 Posted by Epidehl (741 posts) -

Man I remember seeing around E3 the devs having to constantly push back on "Is this gonna be like Nier?!" and it's sad that people are for some reason still doing that. Like, expecting a normal Platinum game to do the story stuff of Nier when that was explicitly not the part they did is bizarre (Nier was is no way "transcendent" mechanically).

Dunno, I think it looks rad, but I'm also not has hung up on the cop aspect of it as some people are apparently. Nice to see it's reviewing well.

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#5 Posted by Casepb (776 posts) -

One of my most anticipated games of this year. I see either this or Doom Eternal being my game of the year.

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#6 Posted by Gundato (367 posts) -

I think this was never going to be Nier-like. That was very much a case of Yoko Taro being Yoko Taro and Platinum making the game "mostly okay" to play. Even MG Rising was largely influenced by whatever notes Kojima left before they asked that he stop motion capping watermelons

Even Bayonetta, for as amazing as it is, is kind of an outlier for Platinum. They make REALLY good systems (and it sounds like these get better on higher difficulty settings) and very "okay" plots.

I am going to wait for Digital Foundry to let me know if this works in handheld, but I am very much approaching this as another Vanquish: A game with fun, if occasionally frustrating, mechanics and a few great set pieces. But I am not expecting to remember anything of the plot outside of "Big Gears of War looking mother fucker was actually a bad guy... I think?"

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#7 Edited by Drakoji (399 posts) -

@epidehl: I find Austin's review really misguided. He's been in the biz long enough to know that directors and writers matters in this industry, and for him to expect a Platinum game to be as well written and directed than Nier Automata is really dumb. He should know that Platinum only worked on the gameplay systems of Nier, which were standard Platinum gameplay, and that they had nothing to do with what people found special in Nier:Automata.

Austin searched for Yoko Taro in a game where he has nothing to do with, and that's flat out ignorance, which is kinda sad because he should know better.

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#8 Edited by Humanity (19044 posts) -

@chaser324: To some degree that review is going through the Waypoint filter and should be taken with a grain of salt I think. I actually listen to the Waypoint podcast fairly often when they discuss games I'm interested in to get a different perspective. The thing about this specific perspective is that it often seems nearly comedic as the crew tend to dig into issues way deeper than the game warrants. I'm often sitting there way more fascinated by the mental gymnastics the Waypoint crew go through than the actual game they're discussing. For instance I think it is kind of astounding that Austin would think this anime-ass-game about future tech-cops and cool looking demons.. would somehow seriously comment on the current state of affairs regarding police militarization. One look at this game can let you know that it's just not going to be about that. You chain these beasts up and use them as weapons because that is what they are. It is a more graphic representation of an established trope in Japanese gaming culture of "enslaving" a creature to fight for you. Similarly I think comparing it to Nier which is such a left-field, one of a kind oddity is also not especially sensical as nothing out there is like Nier. Not even the original Nier is like Nier Automata.

All that said - both Bayonetta 3 and this game are making me consider maybe getting one of those new Switchs. If these consoles are going to become the only source of fun Platinum character action games then I might be required to cave in and get one eventually.

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#9 Posted by FLStyle (6724 posts) -

This game very much reminds me of one of my guilty pleasure games from the PS2 era, Chaos Legion, and that excites me greatly. Naturally it'll be much better and has a cyberpunk aesthetic so I'll definitely be jumping on-board with this this year but I've got a ways to go with Fire Emblem Three Houses yet.

@glots said:

Platinum's style has never quite clicked with me and I think their only game that I've played through was Vanquish, which I enjoyed for it's gameplay and greatly disliked for it's not-so-bad-that-it's-good-but-just-bad story and characters...oh wait, I did also play Nier: Automata. Didn't love it, but thought it was decent. However, I could maybe go for this one just for the visuals and colorful gameplay alone, so I'll be keeping my eyes on a discount price.

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#10 Posted by BajiBoxer (2 posts) -

@drakoji: Yeah. In writing his review, he failed to review the game on its own merits. He relied way too much on direct comparisons with other games. I feel it takes away from what he's saying about this game. A review shouldn't be mentioning other works in every single criticism. I find it distracting at best.

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#11 Posted by Gundato (367 posts) -

@bajiboxer: In your post, you didn't acknowledge the number of vowels Austin used and relied far too much on your dislike of the review style he chose for that game. I feel it takes away from what you're saying about the review. A review review shouldn't be mentioning other review styles in every single criticism. I find it distracting at best.

There is no right or wrong way to review a game. The people who say "Mother fucking Zleda/!?!? BEST GAME EVER!! BUY IT!!" are just as valid as the people who go into way too much detail on a comparison of the "director" models used by games like Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress. Different reviews target different audiences and you aren't everyone's audience.

The better part of a decade ago (possibly closer to two...), Kieron Gillen wrote a great "manifesto" that touched on this. It is the idea that a review should not be objective and inherently needs to be subjective. Because game reviews are travel writing. You don't read about a beach to know how many grains of sand there were or when the sun rises and sets. Maybe you want to know how easily accessible it is by car and how likely you are to have your blanket stolen. I want to know where the nearest liquor store is. A friend of mine wants to know if people will leer at her. And so forth.

Some people want to know if this is more Korra or Bayonetta (yo). Others want to know if it is as good as Nier. And others still want to know if you can pet the dog. Rather than get hung up on not liking someone's review, find a review you do like. Find someone targeting your persona and find out if this is the game for you.

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#12 Posted by JasonR86 (10274 posts) -

I don't mean to smear Austin's review (he says before smearing the review), but too much of it relied on comparing Astral Chain to other games and media. It's a personal pet peeve of mine when reviewers don't review a game for what it is but rather how it compares to other games/media. Games don't live in a vacuum, sure, but it feels overly reductive to criticize a game for not being something else. Maybe this game isn't trying to be like Nier, even if there are similarities. It's like when people used to (and annoyingly still) compare Mario and Sonic. Yeah, they're both platformers, but they are going for different experiences. Half-Life isn't less of an experience because its shooting, tone, and level design is different than Quake, or vice versa.

Also Astral Chain looks fine.

...I just couldn't leave this text box empty. You're welcome?

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#13 Edited by BoOzak (2681 posts) -

I usually get Platinum games day one but issues with the pacing, 30fps, and only having one attack button is giving me pause. (i'm sure theres still depth) I also didnt think Nier: Automata was amazing. (the first was better, combat aside)

I'll get it eventually, I like sci-fi future cop shit.

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#14 Posted by Drakoji (399 posts) -

@gundato: We are not asking him to be objective, just talk about the game, not how it compares to other games. It's lazy shorthand reviewing. It's like the "The Dark Souls of Genre X" meme.

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#15 Edited by chaser324 (8719 posts) -

Damn. I feel bad for posting the Vice review. I had no intention of turning this thread into a critique of Austin's approach to games criticism.

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#16 Edited by Efesell (4634 posts) -

I feel like Austin is also suitably critical in many aspects of the game so it's weird to just focus on that one part. He is in general usually too critical on most things for my own personal taste so I tend to filter what he says somewhat, but his perspective is still useful.

The headline is probably an unfortunate choice.

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#17 Posted by Gundato (367 posts) -

@drakoji:And as someone who would respond to "Dark souls meets Mechwarrior" with "I can fuck with that": that has value. It isn't the only review I would want to see, but it would be one of the most influential to me if it came from someone with a strong Souls background

Similarly: A week or two ago Will described "Shortest journey to earth" as (paraphrased) "a much more system-y FTL" and that pushed me over the edge. It wasn't the strongest standalone "review" and wasn't even really a "review" in the first place, but it was what a lot of us who were on the fence had to hear.

Again: it is fine to not like a review. That doesn't make it right or wrong. It just means it isn't for you. And complaining about it not being for you gets into that "all media and content should be made for me" bullshit that a lot of people tend to fall into in our increasingly curated content feed based world.

Hell, I actually really like musou games. Every time Jeff shits on it I don't scream "your review is bad because you are focusing on the wrong part". I just smile, see if he talks about something interesting that game does, and then go check a different outlet to see how it compares to previous musou games.

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#18 Posted by Drakoji (399 posts) -

@efesell: I fucking love Austin, that's why I'm so harsh on this review. I think he has a very unique viewpoint and we love a lot of the same things. But sometimes he goes on some weird tangents and gets a bit too preachy too. I still value his POV a lot though.

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#19 Posted by TheHT (15890 posts) -

what a terrible trailer. saw this instead and immediately wanted to jump into it:

Loading Video...

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#20 Edited by handlas (3406 posts) -

This game aint getting enough love on this website. My god it's so good. It seems kinda simple at first but it quickly layers on one system after another with your Legion.

Oh... and Lappy. Love her!

However, like all platinum games... I get a headache after 30 mins of playing because it's so frenetic. Am I the only one? I remember getting one every time I played Metal Gear Rising lol.

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#21 Posted by TheChris (550 posts) -

The first story trailers for this game made it pretty clear for me that the story would be generic anime nonesense so I can’t say I’m surprised that it is pretty much that. The gameplay looks fun though.

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#22 Posted by goosemunch (77 posts) -

Wait a sec... in the actual game the lady cop is just wearing regular boots!

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#23 Posted by Syndrom (526 posts) -

i'm kind of waiting for a quicklook

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#24 Posted by glots (4422 posts) -

@syndrom said:

i'm kind of waiting for a quicklook

Going up this week, likely wednesday.

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#25 Posted by Humanity (19044 posts) -

Wonder who will be playing it. I'm thinking Dan.. but it might end up being Ben. Wildcard is Jason who has QL'd Platinums games in the past.

Curious to see what they think since it's a game that seems to be as anime as you can get. Overall the industry and fans alike seem to really like it, apart from Austin who seems to really dislike it.

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#26 Posted by Casepb (776 posts) -

I'm about 6 hours in so far and loving it. It's got a Platinum feel to it, but also RPG. The visuals are also some of the best on Switch. I'd say if you like Japanese games in the slightest you owe yourself to play this game. It's just great.

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#27 Posted by ActuallyDeevees (1 posts) -

I'm 11 hours in and while I think it's great there hasn't been anything that wowed me like in Platinum's other games. It hasn't had any super bombastic sequences like in Revengeance or Bayonetta nor does it have any incredibly memorable sequences. The action is fun though a little chaotic even for their standards.

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#28 Posted by FrostyRyan (2925 posts) -

It's a combination of everything Platinum has done so far and it's fantastic.

And yeah Austin's review makes no sense.

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#29 Posted by ryudo (182 posts) -

Best action game of 2019 and I loved DMC5. Also kinda surprised Giant Bomb has not done a quick look. Too anime I guess.

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#30 Posted by Gundato (367 posts) -

For those playing it:

What's the ratio of "open world" to action? Assumed it would mostly be the latter but between the pre-release interviews and marketing campaign it sounds like focusing on what Platinum were trying to do with the narrative and the like was actually pretty valid.

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#31 Posted by JudgementXD (51 posts) -

@gundato: That depends on how you play. If you want to explore the areas and do as many side activities as you can then you'll end up spending more time on everything other than fighting. Probably along the lines of 60% side stuff/40% fighting.

Honestly that's probably one of my only gripes with the game. Outside of the more linear story missions there are only a few side activities that involve fighting but those generally have 1 fight which lasts anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Would have liked there to have been a sequence of fights rather than just one in the side activities.

That said the side stuff is a nice distraction and if you feel the itch to fight you can always rush to the story missions (additionally side activities that involve fighting are marked in red while blue cases involve either investigating or mini games).

Oh - there is one mission though that you have to stealth through (technically two but one of them the game outright states that you can just fight if you want) and that'll skew things more to the not fighting side but thankfully the next missions have a lot of fights.

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#32 Edited by FacelessVixen (2708 posts) -

I don't wanna buy a Switch because the Switch Pro is most likely on the horizon. But this and Three Houses are kinda making me say "Fuck it."

Edit 9/6/19: Said "Fuck it" and bought a Switch for this game (and Three Houses).

Edit 9/15/19: Game of the year.

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#33 Posted by DaneillaShaw (3 posts) -

I finally got my hands on Astral Chains and I will try to give you a good resume. So here are my pros and cons so far before I write down my verdict. If you are looking for some feedback to decide weather or not to buy it yourself, here are my thoughts.

Pros:

- stunning graphics and visuals

- awesome soundtrack

- very unique and fun game mechanics

- complex combat system

- very action packed but not the typical buttom masher

- great eye for details in the surrounding world

- the city feels very much alive

- nice funny sidequests

- interesting story

- great and epic boss battles

Cons:

- 30 fps

Verdict:

The true nature of this gem is a wonderfully made action game. It has everything I asked/hoped for and even more.

The boss battles are well directed and challenging. The city feels very much alive and the scenery is just beautiful and eye-pleasing.

To me this game is one of the best games I've played in a long time and I can't wait to finish the whole thing over and over again.

The only downside I can see is the 30fps the game is running on. While I dont recognize it all the time, on rare occasions I had the feeling that I saw some frame drops but it was really minor.

If you are into action games and loved Nier:Automata and Bayonetta, you for sure will love this game to death.

Iif you asked yourself if you should buy this game, at least I can highly recommend it at this point of time.

Just enjoy the masterpiece that is Astral Chain

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#34 Posted by Axersia (1928 posts) -

I'm still only on File 4 but I'm not feeling it as much as I thought I would. Then again, I didn't follow any real coverage on the game and mostly bought it based on the original trailer and my love for Bayonetta 2 and Nier Automata.

I always knew this wasn't gonna be a pure action game, but I didn't expect it to be a whole lot of detective adventure, a whole lot of puzzle-platformer, and a tiny bit of action.

The detective sections can really test my patience, and I don't like being in the Astral Plane. It's got terrible music and is hard on the eyes. It's just not a fun space to be in. The best parts for me are going on combat-heavy missions in the actual city, but it doesn't seem like that's what they're going for.

The combat's good, but not as fun to me as other melee-based action games of recent memory. That could change though as I unlock more Legion and get further into the game.

Still, I'm surprised it's been resonating so much with people. I like Marie, but the other characters are, so far, very forgettable. I also wasn't aware I was gonna be controlling a mute. I picked a female character for a reason, only to discover it's actually her male twin who's gonna be voiced. Odd design choice there.

Again, I'm sure all of this was common knowledge for people who followed the game on Treehouse Live and whatnot. I also don't regret buying it, as this was gonna be a pre-order/day-1 purchase for me no matter what. Gonna keep playing, we'll see how I feel about it by the end.