If you ask any hack and slash fan to name their all time top five games of the genre, chances are it won’t be long before you hear them mention Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2 or NieR: Automata, and indeed, possibly all of them. (Mine would have to be: God of War 3, DmC: Devil May Cry, God of War 2018, Bayonetta, and Muramasa Rebirth.)
Platinum Games’ Hideki Kamiya, the director of Bayonetta, and Takahisa Taura, the designer of NieR, have collaborated to make the upcoming game, Astral Chain. In short, the best minds behind the best games in the genre have got together to make something special, and if that doesn’t pique your interest, have you even got a pulse?
The story details, as taken from the official website, are as follows:
“The Ark: A massive, prosperous, multicultural city. But disaster strikes when mysterious dimensional gates appear, bringing dangerous alien creatures to the Ark to attack the people and corrupt the land. The Ark police form a special task force, known as Neuron, to face the alien threat head-on.
Humanity’s last chance against invasion is a special living weapon called the Legion. As a rookie Neuron officer, you and your Legion will work together to solve cases and save humankind.
ASTRAL CHAIN gives you full control over two characters at once for thrilling Synergetic Action, courtesy of PlatinumGames. Switch between several Legion types and skills to save the world your way.
ASTRAL CHAIN features character designs by the acclaimed mangaka Masakazu Katsura (ZETMAN, Video Girl Ai), and marks the directorial debut of PlatinumGames’ Takahisa Taura (designer of NieR:Automata). Hideki Kamiya, director of Bayonetta and writer/supervisor of Bayonetta 2, provides supervision.”
I may possibly be putting two and two together here, with a lot of speculation added into the mix, but do you remember how Xbox fans were getting excited about a new hack-and-slash adventure game called ‘Scalebound’? Who was that being developed by? You guessed it… Platinum Games. It is hard to pin down exactly why that game was cancelled, but one could be forgiven for speculating, particularly in light of the convenient timing, that maybe, just maybe, Astral Chain was the game that the Bayonetta team was working on, and further, that this was at least in part to blame for Scalebound being canned!
The rumours were that the company didn’t have the assets to develop both games, and were being pushed to make Scalebound bigger than it had been envisaged. Platinum couldn’t cope with the workload that was required for such an undertaking, and so had to choose one or the other. Seeing how Bayonetta 2 was a Nintendo exclusive, it’s not hard to deduce that Platinum decided to choose where their fan base was (Nintendo), and not risk it with a new console (Xbox). Like a Phoenix rising from the flames, could Astral Chain be the game that the Bayonetta team were working on all along?
Another reason to be excited is the fact that there hasn’t been a game set in a near-future world in the style of Blade Runner for a good while. Yes, we will shortly have Cyberpunk 2077, but it’s a genre not really explored of late, so the story elements of Astral Chain, have gotten a lot of interest, especially from fans of both Ghost in the Shell and Psycho Pass.
Finally, the set pieces and stylish combat, both hallmarks of Platinum Games, are clearly on display with the trailers we have seen. If you have played any Platinum Game titles before, then you will know what a tight, fluid, and generally superb combat experience these games bring to the table. ‘Bayonetta’ was over the top hilarious fun; ‘NieR’, with its tightly focussed and superbly responsive style, was incredible; heck, even the combat in Platinum’s ‘The Legend of Korra’, was good too. These developers know their stuff, which is why ‘Astral Chain’ coming out exclusively for the Switch, on the 30th August 2019, is something to really look forward to. Total Gaming Addicts hope to bring you the results later this month, so watch this space for the final verdict.