Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Astral Chain is an action game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Nintendo.
Astral Chain was announced by Nintendo during a Direct presentation in February of 2019 with a release date scheduled for August 30 of the year. It continues a partnership between the two developers that has seen them working together on various Nintendo exclusives, such as The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, and Star Fox Zero.
Takahisa Taura, who worked on the critically acclaimed NieR: Automata as its lead game designer, heads up development on Astral Chain as its director, under the supervision of Hideki Kamiya. Astral Chain is Taura’s directorial debut. The idea for Astral Chain was pitched by Taura, who wanted to develop an action title where the player would control two characters at the same time, following which PlatinumGames began development on the game. Meanwhile, renowned Japanese manga artist Masakazu Katsura worked on character designs for the game. Several PlatinumGames veterans who have worked on titles such as Bayonetta and NieR: Automata are also part of the development team.
As per Takahisa Taura, Astral Chain was originally envisioned as a fantasy game where the player would be using magic in combat. However, during early development and after various conversations with publishers Nintendo, the developers decided that the fantasy setting was used very commonly in video games. Wanting Astral Chain to stand out and have a distinct identity, the developers changed the game’s setting to a cyberpunk one. Taura cited cyberpunk animes like Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed as inspirations, as well as the work of character designer Masakazu Katsura on his own science fiction manga Zetman.
Development on the game started with the core idea of the player being able to control two characters at the same time for various purposes in combat, and PlatinumGames built the game around that idea, while adding various other elements along the way as well.
PlatinumGames have also confirmed that they have no plans to support the game with DLC after launch, but that they are considering and thinking of ways that they can expand upon the game further with future instalments, which they would be willing to do if the game proves to be successful. Initially, these comments were mistranslated and taken to mean that Astral Chain is envisioned as the first part of a trilogy. However, later Taura clarified that that is not the case, and that he and PlatinumGames are only thinking of possible ways it might be expanded into a trilogy or more going forward.
Astral Chain is set in a futuristic cyberpunk setting. In the year 2043, a meteorite collides with the Earth, which triggers catastrophic events across the world. Wormholes start appearing, which causes almost the entire world completely uninhabitable. The survivors of this catastrophic event band together and set up a city called the Ark on an artificial island, where they begin preparations to rebuild civilization and, in turn, the world.
For a period of time, the Ark, a metropolitan city of many cultures, enjoys some peace, wormholes eventually begin to appear again, bringing with them alien creatures called the chimera from the “Astral Plane”, who begin polluting the people and the world with something called Red Matter, while also pulling people into wormholes. To fight back against the chimera, the Ark sets up a task force called the Neuron. The Neuron use special living weapons known as Legion to fight against the chimera. Legion were once chimera themselves, but were captured, neutralized with armour, and then mentally synchronized with their wielders in the Neuron. New Legion wielders don’t enjoy perfect synchronization with their Legion immediately, but as they fight together more and more, they become more synchronized, and eventually begin to fight as one.
The player plays as a rookie officer in the Neuron task force. Players can choose between one of two characters to play as, male or female, who’re also twins.
Astral Chain’s combat revolves around what PlatinumGames have dubbed as “Synergetic Action”. The player controls both, the protagonist and their Legion, who are bound together by chains, with the player having to split their focus on both characters. The protagonist is also equipped with multiple Legion, and can switch between them at will. Each Legion has its own unique attributes and abilities and can be used differently in combat. Though original PlatinumGames wanted a lot more Legion, having ideas for more than a dozen, they eventually decided to streamline the process. The final game has five different Legion types.
Legion can be attacking, defensive, or provide support, and have both, ranged and melee attacks. The Legion can be commanded to attack one enemy while the player attacks another, or both can attack a single enemy for greater damage. Using the chain connecting the two in combat is also a mechanic, such as tying enemies up with the chain, or using the chain for tripping enemies. Legion can also be used outside of combat, for things such as investigations, traversal puzzles, tracking, interacting with the environment, riding, destroying obstacles, moving platforms, and more.
The headquarters of the Neuron serves as the central hub of the game. From the headquarters, players venture out into the Ark to take on quests and missions and head up investigations, though the Ark is not an open world environment. Game director Takahisa Taura describes Astral Chain’s level design as a cross between the large, open areas of NieR: Automata and the more linear levels of singular progression found in the Bayonetta games.
Astral Chain also allows players to choose the gender of their character, as well as customize them and their appearance. Meanwhile, several other mundane activities, such as picking up trash, finding secret, hidden toilets in the environment, buying products from vending machines, and the like are also included. The developers included such activities because they wanted players to be immersed in the game and its setting and its characters.
Astral Chain also features co-op gameplay for two players. Each player uses one of the Switch’s Joy Cons, with one player controlling the player character, and the other controlling the Legion. Both players are required to play in sync with each other during and outside of combat.
Note: This wiki will be updated once we have more information about the game.