From the brilliant minds behind Nier: Automata comes Astral Chain, a highly complex hack and slash with a spectral twist.
The game takes place in a world where beings known as Chimeras invade the earth from the astral plane. Local police enforcement must drive the Chimeras back using their own apparitional ally, the Legions, and fight them within the astral plane.
Legions are also beings from the same dimension as the enemies but are physically linked to certain characters through chains on their wrist. These Legions can be used to retrieve materials, subdue hostile humans, and, most importantly, face down Chimeras in spectacular fashion.
Players take the role of a police officer, who can be customised at the start of a playthrough by choosing hair, skin colour, and gender. One fascinating detail about Astral Chain is that once players have created your character, they will also have a twin based on the gender-flipped version. This twin will play a role in the story, but the developers did not go into great detail on how large a part the twin will play.
Described as “synergetic action,” the combat within the astral plane sees the player working alongside the Legion with combos bouncing off of each other in precisely timed strikes. Players can also send out their Legion to attack an enemy while they focus on another or, similarly, have the Legion focus down an objective while the player fends off foes.
In the demo shown during GameSpot’s live coverage of E3 (embedded below), the character’s build was at a slightly higher level than at the beginning and was able to summon multiple Legions at one time each with unique weapons. The weapons showcased included a baton for the player, a sword, a bow, and a Legion with an axe was also mentioned. While the combat does seem overwhelming at first, the developers ensure that gamers will be slowly eased into it and, due to the combat revolving around style, players can be as flashy or as basic as they want to be.
Combat can evolve even further via skill trees where gamers can focus on a particular playstyle to make certain Legions more effective. For example, if the player chooses to focus on the heavy axe-wielding Legion, they will want to invest in more close quarters based skills.
Hacking and slashing are not the only challenges within the astral plane, as it also contains a puzzle element. Unlocking new areas will require players to target multiple switches that change the physicality of the already warped dimension.
While the meat of the game is found within the other dimension, Earth still offers plenty to do.
As a cop, the character is tasked with keeping the peace and upholding the law. By being a good citizen, the player gains currency towards upgrades. Simple good deeds such as picking up litter or not jaywalking all contribute to becoming a better citizen and gaining more rewards.
A rumour suggests a side option to rescue adorable kittens from trees, but that has not been confirmed. Legions can be used to detain humans in a non-lethal fashion by chaining the person for questioning or to defuse a situation. Players will need to put on their deerstalker hats as Astral Chain also has an element of investigatory work, including questioning witnesses or tracking clues.
Astral Chain may seem quite overwhelming at first with plenty to do and a complicated combat system. Overall though, the experience should be very rewarding to players who take time to learn the intricate ins and outs of the game.