Platinum games. Crazy developers responsible for classics like the Bayonetta kidney series: Automatic machines and metal gears : Rising has recently teamed up with Nintendo to provide a number of exclusive services, including the relaunch of the bayonet. They are known for their wild action games with fascinating stories and interesting characters, and it is not surprising that their latest game is an absolute journey. The Astral Channel combines elements of police investigation with stories about the supernatural and places all this in the light of a dark future in which mankind is on the verge of extinction. For the foreigner, the astral chain makes no sense. But once they go underground, it is an unstoppable act with a bitter and tragic end.
The story begins with the fact that humanity is on the verge of extinction. A mysterious force known only to the public as Redshift has ruined much of the planet. What’s left of humanity lives in a huge floating city called the Ark. The Ark is divided into several zones, and the game focuses mainly on just six of them. The heroes of this story are a series of fraternal twins who were born in Area 09, now in quarantine, during a period called the Pandemic, when Area 09 was almost in the grip of the redshift and corruption. When the scene is open, the player chooses the twins he wants to play for and adjusts them as he pleases. An unselected twin becomes an NPC who follows the player through the story. We were immediately told that these twins, who followed in the footsteps of their adoptive father, had been police officers for at least a year. After Redshift’s attack on the opening scenes, the twins are recruited for a special police unit called Neuron. When they join Neuron, they get the information that the Red Shift has been infected by extra-Moon creatures called Chimeras, who come from another dimension, the astral plane. To fight chimeras, Neuron uses live weapons called legions. Legions are made of the same material as chimeras, so they are invisible to normal people. With the help of the Legion, Neuron’s officers can see the Chimeras, fight them and even go to the astral plane.
Fighting alongside the legions is, to say the least, a unique experience. The legion is connected to the player by its arthral chain and can move around the player in the radius he has captured. During a battle, the Legion automatically attacks enemies nearby and the player attacks with his own weapon, the X-stick. The X-bar is available in 3 configurations: Baton, Blaster and Gladius. Each of them has its pros and cons. Personally, I appreciate Blaster’s speed and responsiveness compared to the other two. However, Gladius’ increased attack strength was invaluable in the final battle. The player and the legion can use the Astral Necklace as another weapon. By wrapping around the enemies, they bind the enemy in place and let the player stun the enemy. By forcing the enemy to attack in a tight chain, he can make a powerful counterattack. Some legions even acquire skills that allow them to electrify a circuit or surround it with rotating blades, for example.
Of course it is interesting to work with the Legion in battle, but where the mechanics of the Legion really shines is there and solving the puzzle. The Legion can pull a player through long halls, which is called chain jumping, which is also useful in the battle to move faster across the field. The player can move the Legion independently to reach items within the radius of the Astral Chain. Each legion has a number of unique possibilities. This allows the legion hands to lift and move heavy objects. The Legion of the Beast can detect things by smell or sound. The arrow of the legion can shoot at objects. And a lot more. The more Legion possibilities are available, the more puzzle games are used. Even in the last area I solved a number of puzzles with my first legion, since I used the one I literally only had in the previous chapter. I really appreciate that in every area all the possibilities of the Legion were used to a certain extent and I did not concentrate on one area.
In addition to using legions to solve puzzles, players were encouraged to use their own research skills to solve various issues. After all, the heroes of this story are policemen. The idea of doing real police work was well advanced in the first chapters, which focused on telling and investigating various incidents with chimeras. However, after the climax of the plot, the game changes a lot, from researcher to hunter, and the emphasis is on the plot, not the conspiracy. The final chapters progress very quickly and reach their tragic conclusion. And no spoilers, but, boy, that character construction really works in the end.
Although I like the plot, the music certainly made the game possible. I could spend hours blowing up some of these steering problems. So many considerations were made, and it was worth it. As game technology has improved, sound design has steadily improved over the past five years. I remember that Mario Galaxy’s full orchestral soundtrack was considered revolutionary, and now it’s the standard for games in the A Series.
If there were mistakes in the game, the tasks in the story were even more disappointing. For example, the failure of some platform jump sequences means a restart in the beginning, which can lead to very unnecessary frustration when trying to start the final battle with the boss. There’s also a sniper who seemed to have a very cool idea, which made a lot of sense for the story, but he needed a much bigger polish with a refill. I also saw a small problem in the fact that most bosses tore off each other’s coats. There are literally five different versions of the same pattern, three of which fight one after the other in the same mission. They all have the same weakness and, with a few exceptions, require the same strategies. I wish I had a little more variety, that’s all. Even the legions had their problems. In single player mode an R-shaped stick is used to move the legions, which means that the player has to give up camera control to move the legion. This can sometimes be a problem in areas where the player has to use the Legion of Hands to move objects such as platforms, because the player cannot move the camera during the game to see where they are going. Moreover, fighting side by side with the Axe Legion is much more complicated than with other legions. While other legions ruthlessly attack their enemies, the Legion of the Axe seems to prefer to stand with its shield up. One of the last questions in this game was that the animation can be a bit wobbly. There are strange vibrations, small camera distortions and the characters’ heads sometimes move awkwardly in the picture.
Apart from the problems, it’s a game that Nintendo spent most of the summer promoting and inspiring. After all, it’s one of the first original IPs PlatniumGames developed exclusively for Nintendo. So the real question actors want an answer to is whether this is compatible with all the hype. To be honest, I’d say the Astral was worth the wait. Of course it wasn’t perfect. But I’ve never been more passionate about game and story legends in a very long time. The games were action-oriented, but they always tell a very interesting story that I can never get enough of. Every night after work I didn’t sleep until 3 a.m., I just wanted to see how it went. And then I finally got into the final fight, which gave me my first game at halftime. This game gave me a challenge I hadn’t known for a long time. From fascinating combat systems to interesting characters, PlatinumGames keeps up with the hype. And although the end allowed me to take care of all the details and made me very happy, I wouldn’t be angry if another franchise game was announced.
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