Games: Astral Chain on Nintendo's Switch 'another pitch-perfect action-fest from the Japanese purveyors of Bayonetta and Nier: Automata'
Astral Chain (Switch)
WHAT the hell's going on? I mean generally. Sure, I'll nod, smile and pretend to be in on the craic, but as a man disgustingly fatted on middle age, I generally don't know (nor could care less) what's happening around me anymore. And never has a game captured that feeling of fleeing faculties more than Astral Chain.
In short, it's brilliant! Aping the breakdown of the feeble mind, I can see movement and colour (and I'm pretty sure my less atrophied appendages are doing something), but the latest Switch exclusive makes me feel awesome.
Platinum Games are the most consistently interesting developer in the world at the moment and Astral Chain is slathered in their special sauce. Another pitch-perfect action-fest from the Japanese purveyors of Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, it's a fiesta of alien slaughter and heart-on-sleeve histrionics, where everything and the kitchen sink is thrown at a cocktail of anime-influenced hack and slash action, with grave sci-fi gibberish swaddled in Battle of The Planets style cartoon visuals.
In a post-apocalyptic future where humanity's remnants survive inside a megacity, players command one of two sibling cops in a blend of lickety-split combat and detective work – all pulled together in a way only Platinum can do.
Forever lashed to a glowing beast, you can sic your colossal cur on a madcap menagerie of otherworldly enemies. Scratch beneath the button-mashing veneer, though, and Astral Chain's forgiving mayhem belies a surprisingly deep actioner, with myriad customisation and gameplay options catering to a wide range of player – from shallow, cack-handed grunts to combo-thirsty obsessives.
Your buddy, forever on an inter-dimensional choke-chain, takes the form of a variety of glowing doom-bringers, from archers and swordsmen to a ruddy great pair of fists, while new concepts come thick and fast. In-between learning new moves there are stray cats to find, vending machines to chat to and a haunted bog to contend with.
No matter your preference – shallow fisticuffs or deep role-play – Astral Chain has got you covered, pal. Customisable gameplay options let lazybone types sail through the story with minimal effort, while those who prefer wrapping both hands around its deep, nuanced combat gristle can take the stabilisers off for a hardcore challenge.
Either way, it's a spasming kaleidoscope of combat that'll keep the adrenals plump till its satisfying finale. And whether or not players are simply mashing the joypad like lobotomised monkeys, the end result is the same unbridled joy.
As a bespoke Switch title, Astral Chain is tailor-made for the console's limitations and, just like the finest Nintendo fodder, looks incredible thanks to a manga-tastic style rather than powerhouse tech, capturing the look of Japanese Saturday morning cartoon imports from the early 80s.
A sop to the anime set, rich sci-fi world building is blended with soap opera side quests for a love letter to the Japanese action game that keeps Nintendo's portable marvel in the hunt for Game of The Year.
Trust me – you'll have a ball. And chain.