I was feeling this way too until about Chapter 4, then found all those upgrades and started to change my style of play. Much less button mashing a la Bayonetta, more patient movement and timing a la Arkham Asylum. And it hugely clickedScrustle wrote: ↑September 5th, 2019, 6:56 pmI just finished chapter 6 of Astral Chain so I think that makes me about halfway through. I was considering talking about this game earlier (apart from the first impressions of course) but I was holding off, because honestly I was pretty disappointed with it. While I had a lot to say, the idea of dragging this game felt rather depressing, considering my love for Platinum. But then suddenly out of nowhere, it just got massively better and it finally clicked. It's still pretty early as it's only since this last chapter that is has turned such a corner, but it feels damn good to finally crack this.
But I still think the criticisms are worth noting, so I have to mention them. At first the game was completely overwhelming. It came across as simply far too visually chaotic, as I was basically unable to make sense of what was happening on screen. The art style, while aesthetically appealing, is full of really strong colours and high contrast which tended to blend together very easily. And with enemies being so aggressive, and the frame rate often struggling to maintain even 30fps, that didn't help things. Almost every fight felt like a mess where I was being thrown around like a chew toy, not even getting a chance to respond to anything that was being thrown at me. The controls are also pretty fiddly and unnecessarily complicated in many ways. The precision blade mode that's lifted out of Metal Gear Rising in particular is a pain to use. There are also a number of just strange design decisions that seem to serve no purpose other than to frustrate. Chapter 4 in particular is horrible for this, where they litter the whole level with goo that makes you stumble when you walk in to it. Not helpful in a fight. And then there's the exploration sections at the start of chapters before you go in to the more linear action-focused latter parts. I like it from one perspective, as it's cool to inhabit this world and explore it. But at the same time, these sections often feel like padding where objectives aren't that interesting, and it breaks out the pacing of the game in a way that I think does it a disservice.
But then going in to chapter 6 things suddenly changed. I realised I could upgrade my gear much more than I had been doing so far. Suddenly unlocked a bunch of very useful moves that helped me keep on top of combat way more effectively. The ability to automatically bind a group of enemies in front of me, and being able to go from that straight in to a high damage sync combo. As well as finally unlocking a distance-closing attack that also chains in to a sync. So suddenly it all makes sense! I was starting to wonder where the hell all these 9/10 reviews were coming from, but now I think I see it. It's extremely satisfying to pull off a good chain of sync attacks, controlling the battlefield and switching between Legions on the fly. While I still think some of my issues still stand (the performance in particular really struggles in the boss of this chapter) now I think I can see where the magic lies, and what this game is going for. I also think there are things about this specific chapter that help as well. This is the first one where you're not put up against mostly new enemies, and there is a lack of any annoying gimmicks that get in the way of the fun. So there's no nasty surprises with stuff that you don't know how to tackle, or things that get in the way of you trying to deal with that either. At least, when it comes to combat anyway.
It's a shame it took so long to click though. It makes me think that's another issue with this game actually. It starts you off well below the level of power you need to be to tackle what the game is putting you up against, and it takes too long to reach that point. I suppose I can understand them wanting to ease you in gradually with this game, being such a unique thing, but I get the feeling they picked the wrong things to hold back from you. If I had at least some of this earlier, my time with the game so far would have been so much more positive. But at least this does somewhat confirm my suspicions that this game will be much more fun through the second time, when you have all the skills unlocked and know what you're doing. Or at least those early chapters will.
Chapters 6 and 7 have been two of the best few hours of a game I've ever played. Looking forward to the finale.