Astral Chain has a lot of features, I’ll go over most of them but I’ll surely miss a few. In order of importance…
Attacks are pretty simple combos of jamming that attack button. These are much less varied than in Bayonetta or Nier Automata, in fact, there are three weapons I have come across so far, and I completed the main story at last. Technically these are modes for a single transforming weapon, the X-Baton.
- Baton, the standard mode for quick melee attacks.
- Gladius, an upgraded mode of heavy melee damage.
- Blaster, standard sidearm firing weak rapid bullets.
Once you have your first Legion, the game begins to reveal its depth gradually. You’re meant to revisit Files once you have equipment from later in the game, usually, once you have all five Legions selectable from your quick change menu. So don’t sweat bad grades if you play on PT Standard, which brings me to…
You’ve got four Difficulties called Playstyles. In order of rising difficulty: Unleashed, Casual, PT Standard, PT Ultimate. In PT Standard and up, you are graded for your performance. PT Standard is the mode for you if you’re accustomed to the games made by Platinum, though the game starts off on Casual.
Legions have their own Meter, called the Energy Meter. You can’t always have one out due to this blue meter gradually depleting with time. This doesn’t mean too much initially, but when your legion gets hit, this is what constitutes their “HP” gauge. If it reaches zero, you’ll have to wait a bit for the meter to completely fill again before using your Legion. Time taken up by this Cooldown phase varies depending on how much you have Upgraded your Equipment and speaking of, Legions get a kind of equipment that can influence this too.
Legion’s have two equipable elements. Skills and Abilities. Skills are up to two commands to be given to your legion via button presses in combat.
Abilities are equipable items that change their stats and traits in a lot of differing ways.
Legions have their own section in the game’s Pause screen equivalent, the Legatus Menu. The Legatus is the equipment you pick up in File 2. Once you have this, you can upgrade Legions with the Gene Code you pick up from defeated enemies.
When attacking or really any time, you will start seeing blue flashes after a point in the game. This is your sign to press the Legion Control button to initiate special Sync actions such as a defense, attack, or recovery from a fall.
Legions can be controlled directly by a second player, though I have no nearby friends to try it with.
They normally are controlled by holding their Legion Control button and moving the right analog stick.
Legions can and often do need to interact with your environment through unique actions from each of the five. Usually you’ll find very specific circumstances, usually, this is pretty easy to pick up on. Remember they are not visible to normal folk, so you can use your Legion to Eavesdrop on strangers.
Legions, especially the Arm Legion, are often used in basic puzzle segments. These come and go and usually are not required to proceed. Though you will need to know how to Chain Jump.
To Chain Jump, you send your Legion to a distant point, then press the Legion Control Button and your Attack button at once. You will be yoinked to where it is, useful for crossing gaps.
The Chain also has uses in battles beyond the negative of hindering how far you can be from your Legion. By holding the chain between you both, you can chain counter a dashing enemy be catching them with the chain and then pulling it taut to launch and stun them. And by encircling targets with the chain completely, you can bind enemies (and troublesome civilians or other nonsense) to disable them. Effectively these are Astral Handcuffs.
There are noncombat sections aplenty, ranging from odd minigames to light detective work, mostly talking to civilians and checking camera feeds. There is a secondary view mode called IRIS and it gives detailed readouts on most interactable objects.
Noncombat sections are not the peak of this game’s design though, and I did groan at later “Stealth” segments… This ain’t MGS and you ain’t Snake. The Chain Jump is decent to use outside of combat for some basic platforming and exploration.
There is an in-game camera with filter effects mapped to pressing right on the D-Pad by default. You collect extra data on enemies, locations, and people by taking a photo of them.