Astral Chain's logo, its name stylized as jagged gray metal letters on a black background

Astral Chain is an action-adventure game made by PlatinumGames and released on the Switch in 2019.

You play as an avatar, one of a set of twins, the other whom is named Akira and will be your partner and rival.

The Setting

It's a cyberpunk dystopia! The Earth has been invaded by monstrous creatures called 'Chimeras' from another dimension, the Astral Plane, and they spread 'red matter' which corrupts and destroys and can infect humans with a phenomenon called redshift. Red matter has destroyed almost all of the Earth (and the moon) so humanity now live on an artificial island in the pacific called ’the Ark’.

The Ark is a sort of megacity made up of several districts and zones. Some of them are built in layers, while others have more open skies, leading to urban ravines between skyscraper chunks. Billboards and holographic signs in many different languages can be seen throughout.

Player and Akira and their adoptive father Max all work for a special police task force called Neuron whose job is to investigate Chimera incidents. To help with this, a new weapon has been developed: using captured Chimera as Legions, which can combat red matter.

a colorful shot of player standing in the square, at night, a wall plastered full of glowing billboards behind her and some random citizens. Player is holding a huge ice cream with four scoops stacked on top of each other.a vast cityscape at night, lit up from below. huge walls bisect the scenery, creating urban ravines

The Gameplay

You control two characters simultaneously: your avatar and your Legion (which you can summon at will). There are two main areas of gameplay: the real world and the Astral Plane. In the real world you look for clues and talk to NPCs to figure out what happened, which usually leads you to a gate to the Astral Plane. In the Astral Plane you solve puzzles and explore to find your objective and/or a way back out.

And you fight Chimeras everywhere! The game’s fast-paced combat relies on controlling both human and Legion to pull off combos and there are both ranged and melee weapons and a wide variety of ways to do damage with the five available Legions.

(& if you're like me and plays games on easy there's an option for turning on auto-pilot for the fights)

player character, glowing blue, yanking back a chain while the Legion in the background attacks a chimera. The chimera is bipedal, with claws and spikes, and is red and gnarled like a root with exposed muscle.

Why I like it

This game is so full of detail!

The visuals and ambiance are great, and there's tons of little things that add charm. Every chapter in the game has a special mission for finding a stray cat, and for taking a funny photo in a specific location. There are tsundere vending machines in this game

screenshot from Astral Chain of player in a dingy alley talking to a vending machine with an animated face on a screen. Its name is Vendor-3. It says: It's not like I care what drink you want or anything!a scenic shot of a man and his cat on a precicipe watching the city. the city skyline is hazy and in blue and yellow

I think it's visually a gorgeous game and the ambiance in particular is incredible.

Afternoon at a busy intersection just before the sun goes down. A back-alley full of trashbags and graffiti. Old high rise apartment buildings that were never demolished. A quiet street at night with a single functioning streetlamp where you might find a stray cat wandering around.

The game will show you a mall and a busy plaza lined with stores, glittering at night, but where the game really nails it are the quieter districts.

The Astral Plane has its own eerie aesthetic, with jagged and crystalline matter which forms inhospitable landscapes floating in a red void.
the twins from Astral Chain. Picture split so that the left side is blue with player's face, while the right is red with Akira's face. The split goes down the middle so that only half of each character's face is shown
The player and Akira’s relationship is another highlight of the game for me. You’ve got a sibling and you joke around with them, you’re coworkers, you love them and try to look out for them – and they feel resentful to be looked after, because you used to be just the same until you got this new power, and now--

Your only family, your dark mirror, your annoying twin: it all comes down to Akira.

A hovering yellow drone with blue goggles serving as its eyes. It has several colorful stickers on it
the characters aren't that complex but the supporting cast have their own charm. Take Hal, the owner of the yellow drone pictured on the right: player never actually meets him because he's too anxious to see people face to face so instead his drone offers support on a few cases.

also the combat is just really fun. also if you run into anything the stumbling animation takes like 5 seconds & it's great. there's a quest which makes you carry ice cream where you'll just spill it all over the street as you trip magnificently like a hundred times

trigger warnings:

you play as a cop. violence in general. body horror. drugs. major character death. monster transformation

you also get arrested & almost killed by your boss, plus your twin gets cloned without consent for hundreds of copies and has a breakdown over whether they're real or just another clone.

a family picture of Max, an older man with a beard and scar over one eye, embracing the twins, who are both in uniform and glancing up at their dad

Game & images by PlatinumGames. Lappy pictures from a blogpost by PlatinumGames here.
Webpage by Viivi

button saying: main

cutesy drawing of the mascot Lappy from the game, a yellow dog with a police hat. he's saluting cutesy drawing of the mascot Lappy from the game, looking excited