In the midst of an (arguably) lukewarm Switch Direct in February 2019, Nintendo did make a couple of intriguing announcements about upcoming games, not least the cyberpunk-inspired Astral Chain, which looks something like the lovechild of Final Fantasy and Cyberpunk 2077. But when is Astral Chain coming out, and will it be worth playing?

Well, the first answer to that question is the 30th August 2019, so be sure to mark your calendars. Assuming, of course, there aren’t any delays; the latest Direct did sadly confirm that more development time was needed for the upcoming Fire Emblem: Three Houses, so that’s been nudged back to the summer.

Otherwise, everything about Astral Chain looks very slick and intriguing, and I got strong vibes of Cyberpunk 2077Final Fantasy XV, and even Beyond: Two Souls by Quantic Dream. Not that similarities are criticisms, by the way; I’m just trying to work out where to place this game in my mind. Certainly the eponymous ‘chain’ is going to be integral to the gameplay, as the trailer suggests, and it plays a heavy role in combat. According to the game’s description, the lead characters are supported by an advanced weapon known as the Legion, but how the chain relates to this I’m not sure. (Given that it’s an ‘astral chain’ I don’t suppose it’s a huge leap to assume that it somehow connects to another dimension?)

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The mysterious chain in action.

“Work together with the Legion and use all sorts of combat styles to fight your enemies,” Nintendo says. “You could both attack the same enemy simultaneously, target different opponents, or send your Legion on the offensive while you support it with items. Use this synergetic action system to battle and explore together!”

The dual gameplay that Nintendo refers to is both yourself and your partner-in-crime. At the start of the adventure, you choose between two playable characters – one male and one female – and the one you don’t select joins you as your younger twin. You are both members of a special police unit known as Neuron, which has been created to combat the swathes of dangerous creatures that have started pouring into the city from another dimension – and they’re not friendly.

All of this takes place against the gritty urban backdrop of the Ark, which is a multi-cultural city in the near future – and it may or may not be open-world. Certainly, some motorbiking sections are shown in the trailer, so it’s possible that a degree of free exploration will be included. The screenshot in the banner shows one of the characters standing next to a vehicle, and it does appear to suggest that you could just hop on and go for a ride at a whim. Which would be cool.

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Team Neuron.

So yeah – I really like the look of this game! I hope there’s a demo nearer the time. I also kinda like that we don’t have to do years of waiting before we get to play, so I appreciate Nintendo remaining tight-lipped on this title until now.

But how do you feel? Has Astral Chain whetted your appetite? Or are you more excited about Luigi’s Mansion 3? (Which we were given zero info on, dammit!) Let me know in the comments below.

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