Astral Chain is quite a different piece of work compared to Platinum’s past character action games. When I think of Platinum games, I think of something wacky and quirky and something different compared to the other games released in this medium. Astral Chain isn’t that. It’s an unusual one for Platinum Games. There is nothing quirky about it – it’s quite basic actually in pretty much everything. Character designs, music, plot – you name it. It’s quite lovely to see a more “ordinary” game by Platinum. While ordinary is fine, I feel like Platinum had a bunch of ideas with this game but didn’t know how to execute them.
However, the visuals in this piece of work are great. The actual character designs are uninspired, but they look exceptional in motion. Particles and visual effect during combat are sharp – Astral Chain is definitely a stunner. Visually this game is passable in handheld mode. There is a considerable difference between the docked and undocked versions of this game, I personally just wished more games looked like Breath of the Wild undocked. The music isn’t notable, which is quite disappointing. I probably did set myself up for disappointment, but after Nier Automata’s marvellous soundtrack I was expecting a bit more from Astral Chain.
In Astral Chain, you fight battles with your legion and do little investigations. There are multiple difficulties, and if you are finding the game to be a little bit too challenging, you can play on the Unchained problem, which is the easiest difficulty with automatic combos. The gameplay in Astral Chain is fair to middling. I felt like Platinum tried to make too many different games at once with this one and while it is fine to experiment maybe, it is also better to stick to what you are good at. The legion was a poorly executed gimmick – battles were confusing, and the controls were a mess. You also had to do these little minigames with your legion, which were more frustrating than fun. Astral Chain is exceptionally linear. Linearity isn’t bad – but being linear and repetitive is a big no. In Astral Chain, every file proceeded with investigating, fighting the enemies and then the big boss. It got quite tedious after doing this for a while. The investigation minigames had no place in this game as they were all atrocious. The platforming in this game was a huge question mark because it was incredibly random and poorly executed. Astral Chain’s gameplay is like a bunch of ideas thrown at each other with no sellotape to stick them together.
Moreover, I admire Platinum games efforts of a story in this game, and it made me smile that they tried to make this game a real story-heavy game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out even with their efforts. The plot was obnoxious – I didn’t care for a single character. To be honest, I just wanted a lot of them to stop talking a lot of the time. The dialogue was strikingly bad – I felt like I was watching a B tier anime and the weak voice acting hurts this game. The silent protagonist in this game doesn’t make any sense. Why is my sister/brother, the main character? No, a silent protagonist does not make me more immersed. Especially in this type of game. In fact, the silent protagonist made me care even less about this lousy plot.
To conclude, while I think Astral Chain has a lot of good ideas, but very little is well executed. That said there is a lot set up for a sequel. So a sequel could be gripping with improvements.