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Video Game / Astral Chain

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"Today has been most revelatory."

"My heart goes out to you two... All because of how you were born, you're doomed to be used by those idiots till you die. Chained to your fate, powerless."

Astral Chain is a Stylish Action video game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. The game was unveiled in February 2019 and was released on August 30th, 2019 in all regions.

Set in a future Cyberpunk multicultural city known as the Ark, Astral Chain focuses on a Brother-Sister Team who work for a special police task force called Neuron. Said task force was birthed in response to the formation of odd dimensional rifts that have been appearing in the world, unleashing monsters known as Chimeras who leave destruction in their wake. With normal equipment being just as ill-equipped for such a situation as standard police officers are, members of Neuron utilize a brand-new weapon known as Legion: bio-mechanical beings derived from Chimeras that acts as a partner and aids you both inside and outside of combat situations.


Astral Chain marks the directorial debut of Takahisa Taura, the chief designer of NieR: Automata. Bayonetta series creator and PlatinumGames co-founder Hideki Kamiya serves as the supervisor for the game, with manga artist Masakazu Katsura in charge of the character design.

Trailers: Announcement Trailer, Nintendo E3 2019 TrailerTreehouse footage: Part 1, Part 2

Contains examples of:

  • 100% Completion: While the game doesn't keep track of everything you've unlocked with a percentage value, there's a lot for completionists to tackle. Players have to manually take pictures of every last Chimera and Legion in the game and document them in the Subjects folder on your PC. There's also a giant list of Orders that rewards the player for completing certain tasks, and a lot of side missions that involve busywork as a police officer. The game even requires you to replay through earlier missions just to solve puzzles with Legion that you don't gain access to until later on. Some of the orders require gaining S+ rank in every mission on the Pt Ultimate difficulty.
  • A Taste of Power:
    • During the climax of File 2, your Legion has infinite energy, cannot be dismissed, and sync actions trigger automatically.
    • Much later, during File 10’s climax, you unlock Legion Fusion in order to stop a berserk Legion Fused Akira. You have infinite resonance in this fight, meaning that your fusion is unlimited.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: In two flavours. First, there's G, which you require to purchase in-game items and equipment upgrades. You don't earn that much currency once you complete a File as you're encouraged to salvage whatever you can from crates and enemy drops to sell later with high-end "recyclable" rewards given as prizes for doing well in Red Cases (which is harder to do if you're underpowered). Then there are Gene Codes, which are necessary for advancing the skill trees of your Legions. Their individual skill trees. You get these from defeating enemies, but they don't drop in very many quantities. Eventually, upgrade payments hit a formidable wall as the higher-end ones for both your gear and Legions need Premium Material Codes, which are incredibly rare quest rewards. It doesn't help that consumable combat and health items aren't exactly cheap either.
  • All There in the Manual: Much of the finer details of the game's overarching plot can be found in the century-spanning timeline contained in the art book.
  • And the Adventure Continues: File 12 shows that while things are looking up for humanity, Chimeras are still a threat to the Ark and its inhabitants, leaving plenty of work for you to do.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Various outfits and accessories can be unlocked by completing in-game achievements and side quests. Numerous unlockable palette swaps for both you and your Legions allow for even more customization control.
  • Another Dimension: The Astral Plane is the source of all chimeras, who invade the Ark through dimensional rifts. According to Jena Anderson, the Astral Plane is a giant computer whose purpose is to catalog all life on earth, so the planet can be "reformatted" later.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If the player attempts to use an item from their highly limited personal stocks while having a temporary supply item of the same type, the supply stock is automatically used instead.
    • Your camera will highlight enemies that you haven't discovered yet with a translucent yellow dot in the reticle.
    • Getting 100% Red Matter in all of the story files can be a pain as they're often difficult to see and sometimes require obsessive re-checks in an area before proceeding. Luckily, to get 100% completion, the game only asks the player to get 80% Red Matter cleared in each file.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1. The chimeric invasion has destroyed 90% of all life on Earth and the remaining 10% are only surviving thanks to a manmade island called The Ark. Still life on the Ark is relatively normal and humans still have access to most comforts so barring the constant attacks from chimeras and aberrations it's not too bad.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Your X-Baton's Gladius form can cut through enemy shields with ease.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Some of the bosses such as the Homunculi are the size of buildings.
  • Badass Normal: Jin, Max, Alicia, and Akira find themselves in this position when their Legions pull a Face–Heel Turn..
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Yoseph Calvert, who wants to transcend himself and humanity, and Jena Anderson, who wants to merge the Astral Plane and Earth.
  • Black and Gray Morality:
    • While many of the main characters are genuinely good people, that doesn't change the fact that their main weapon against chimeras is gained by torturing and enslaving other chimeras and judging by the opening cutscene, the process isn't painless. Comments from a minor NPC imply that the process of gaining Legions is common knowledge around Neuron, to say nothing of Yoseph and Brenda who actually take part in the process.
    • Aberrations are some of the first enemies you encounter and are generally just common Mooks. However, file 2 reveals that they were previously humans who redshifted because of the mere presence of chimeras. This understandably puts them in a more tragic light but they're still mindless homocidal enemies that have to be killed.
    • The antagonists themselves. Jena is a terrorist fighting against Neuron and created the Homunculi that are undoubtedly some of the most dangerous enemies in the world. However, it's later revealed that she's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is doing what she thinks is to the benefit of humanity. Meanwhile, Yoseph a slightly, slightly Darker Shade Of Black who is only saving humanity to fuel his God Complex. Regardless of their motivations, they both want to merge humanity with the Astral Plane, believing that it will be saved when in actuality the process will kill practically everyone.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Sword Legion possesses blade arms.
  • Blamed For Being Railroaded: In File 06, you are forced by the game to follow Hal into Zone 09, which is off-limits to police, even though nothing in-universe says you have to go there. Hal even explicitly states that you don't have to come along with him, yet the only two responses that the game allows you to make both equal "yes". One unauthorized mission later, Yoseph has you arrested and thrown in jail for insubordination. Downplayed a bit, in that you only get provisonally detained while Hal gets fired entirely, suggesting that he got most of the blame as the one who led the mission while your crime is mainly being his accomplice.
  • Bomb Disposal: One sidequest has you trying to disarm a time bomb by using the Sword Legion's ability to sever the electronic signals much the same as cutting the wires on a bomb. You're even guided through which one to cut in what order. The bomb is fake, and failing to defuse it just results in a shower of confetti and a party horn sounding off.
  • Bonus Boss: Completing 69 of the cases assigned by Olive in Chapter 12 unlocks a final case, in which you battle Aether, who is essentially the equivalent of Final Noah Prime turned Up to Eleven.
  • Boss Bonanza: At the very end of the game, you must fight Akira suffering an existential crisis and Yoseph's evil Legions before being immediately thrust into the final battle with Noah, which consists of a platforming segment and two distinct fights with the Core and Noah Prime, the latter of which has two distinct forms.
  • Breather Episode: File 08, Peace. You're on cleanup duty after the second of two consecutive disasters played through, and most of the file is effectively a Minigame Zone with no time or story pressure and very little straight combat.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: File 12's cases mainly comprise chimera-hunting objectives, and in addition to the enemies being quite punishing, the difficulty is locked to Pt Ultimate. The R3 cases in particular give you several waves consisting of multiple bosses.
  • Canon Identifier: Inverted, in that the twin you don't choose to play as is given the Canon Name of Akira regardless of gender (making it easy to talk about the character), but the player character receives no specific title to distinguish them (even their brief stint as the only active Legion user, or Legiate, on the force is short lived when Akira acquires a new one two Files later).
  • Chain Pain: The titular Astral Chain. Your player uses it to control the Legion. They also use it to do things like trapping enemies or fugitives, or acting like a tripwire.
  • Character Customization: The player character's hair, eyes, and skin tone can be chosen at game's start, and all of these plus their outfit and color scheme can be edited at the HQ locker room later. The player can even switch which twin they're controlling by replaying File 01, which puts them through character creation again. The Legions can also be recolored.
  • City of Adventure: The events that transpire in Astral Chain take place in the cyberpunk city called the Ark.
  • Cloning Blues: "The Ravens" turn out to be mass-produced clones of Akira, much to the original Akira's disturbance.
  • Collector of the Strange: The game is specifically designed to reward average police work should you choose to partake in it. The catch? One of the collectibles in the game is discarded soda cans. The other type of in-game collectible is inspecting public toilets.
  • The Corruption: Chimera activity leaves behind a residue called Red Matter that can't be seen by normal people. If left unattended, people slowly undergo a process called redshifting, corrupting them before finally becoming Aberrations. This can be cured through blueshifting, which the Sword Legion is capable of; curing sick individuals in exploration-based areas can help boost the player character's reputation. Members of Neuron bonded with a Legion can withstand much larger doses without succumbing as easily; the Howard twins' own resistances have been theorized to be a byproduct of their birth, as their mother was redshifting while pregnant with them.
  • Cute Kitten: You can find one in every File to adopt, and collecting them is required for several Orders (achievements). Compared to human characters (especially generic NPCs), they are rendered in painstaking detail.
  • Cyberpunk: The game takes major cues from various cyberpunk works (Takahisa Taura specifically credits Shirow Masamune's Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed), with transhuman characters mentally connected to the biomechanical legion weapons.
    • The Ghost in the Shell influences can really be seen with Sector 5, a slum shantytown built upon industrial buildings inside the walled off Zone 09. The very aesthetic of the rusted corrugated metal roofs, Chinese neon signage lighting up the dimly lit alleyways, and people literally scrounging around for any old technology they can find just to make a meager living was clearly influenced by how Niihama is visually represented in the original 1995 movie.
  • Crutch Character: In the form of an ability, the Auto Sync Attack ability, when equipped, grants the player the ability to fire off sync attacks without having to press the appropriate action button. This can be particularly useful for the Legions with multi-part sync attack combos and can ease newer players into the game's standard mode. Overtime, the ability becomes less effective as the player learns the timing for the sync attacks, learn that the ability slots can be occupied by an ability that adds new effects, and the fact that auto sync attacks can be a liability as the only way to cancel out of them is to dodge.
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: Platinum again manages to squeeze in a "ride your motorbike at breakneck speed" segment into the game. They do this AT THE VERY START OF THE GAME.
  • Death World: The Astral Plane, the dimension that the chimeras come from. It's said to be so dangerous that only chimeras can survive in it. If the abundance of chimeras that will be after your life wasn't enough, merely being inside the Astral Plane will slowly but surely corrupt a person, causing them to "redshift" until they become an Aberration.
  • Degraded Boss: Bosses that received a Mook Debut Cutscene often reappear later in the story in regular battles. Played completely straight in File 12 where virtually every boss monster encountered in the story is often just one of a dozen enemies to fight in a case.
  • Early-Bird Boss: You fight Enceladus in File 2 before you have access to most of the game's combat and upgrade options, meaning weaker weapons, low health, no Legion skills or abilities, one Legion to work with. With so many limitations, he throws first-time players for a loop. Returning to this fight later with your entire arsenal of tools makes the fight significantly easier.
  • Early Game Hell: The first two and a half Files of a new game tend to strain a player's health the most, as they don't have access to the Finishing Move yet. Once they do, healing items become a bit less precious.
  • Enemy Scan: One of the many functions IRIS offers.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Subverted. The Howard twins were respected cops, but still thoroughly out of their depth when they first join Neuron.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Not to a large extent but the entire game from file 01 to file 11 takes place in only 16 days.
    • This is best showcased with the very first day, June 21, which is the time frame for both file 01 and file 02. In order; the twins face off against a horde of aberrations, get their asses handed to them by chimeras, get their own Legions, defeat Laius, take a helicopter to Neuron HQ where they are officially promoted to the Neuron Task Force, train with Jin, take on their first case as Neuron officers, investigate two chimera attacks, defeat one of the larger chimeras who redshifts some nearby civilians, they pursue Enceladus who drags one of them to the Astral Plane, the rest of the team rescues the player character and kills Enceladus, they start saving some nearby civilians who have also been dragged to the Astral Plane, the team loses control of each of their Legions and have to fight them, the player character tames the Sword Legion and Max performs a Heroic Sacrifice to buy the team time to escape. Oh, and file 03 reveals, while all this was happening Jena bombed the ARI and stole some resources for her Homunculi.
  • Evil All Along: Yoseph, who presents himself as the Big Good, turns out to be the Big Bad with a destructive case of a savior complex.
  • Evil Costume Switch: The Legions, after they undergo a Face–Heel Turn in the Astral Plane. Subverted with Akira; they return from the ARI decked out in sinister black armor. However, they remain a good guy nonetheless. Played straight with Akira's clones, who betray you and Akira proper after Yosef shows his true colors.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The nature of the conflict between Jena and Yosef is revealed to be this. They both have ill intentions for the human race under the guise of well-intentioned extremism. It's just that they have different ideas of where humanity should end up.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The main menu is a shot of Akira looking out into the Ark. When they're forced into a coma by Jena, they disappear from it. Similarly, when they return with the Raven armor, they're shown wearing it there too. By the time the player clears File 11, they disappear — and it stays that way for the rest of the game.
  • Face–Heel Turn: During the protagonists' first venture into the Astral Plane, the corruption becomes so deadly that it causes their own Legions to turn against them. By the end of the chapter, every Legion, save for the player character's, has turned back to the side of the chimeras.
  • First Person Snapshooter: Unlocking profile data for people and locations is achieved by taking a photo of them. An in-universe photo, mind, and don't expect a Chimera to stop attacking you in the meantime. Fortunately it doesn't have to be a good photo, just of the right thing.
  • Flaming Sword: Chimera HUM-C-158B8-00 codename "Diomedes" wields a large flaming sword, and has considerable reach when attacking with it.
  • Flawed Prototype: The Protolegions. Similar to the Sword Legion, they were born from altering basic humanoid chimera for the sake of specialisation. However, the bunch of them were ultimately shelved due to incompatibilities with their enhancements. For example, the large-handed Glove Protolegion had difficulties balancing thanks to its engorged limbs, and the Archer Legion's aim was infamously inaccurate compared to a true Arrow chimera's.
  • Fun with Acronyms: IRIS: Integrated Reality Information System.
  • Fusion Dance: You gain the ability to fuse with your Legion in the last couple of levels. In addition, this is how the Final Boss ends up being created.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: When Akira suffers a seemingly mortal blow, it's mentioned offhand that their AED (the device that acts as your Justified Extra Lives might have been damaged in the fall.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • At the end of every level, you get graded on your performance, receive your pay, and may even receive a promotion based on how many accolades you collect. This even happens in files 10 and 11, where you're a wanted fugitive who has been kicked out of Neuron.
    • When you complete a Red Case and then dismiss the results screen, "Case Reported" appears on the screen briefly, the idea being that you're logging the events and submitting them to police command. This happens even in File 06, where you're on an unauthorized mission and thus shouldn't be communicating with the rest of police at all, and in Files 10 and 11 due to again being terminated from Neuron.
  • Gameplay Grading: If playing red cases on PT Standard or Ultimate, you'll receive a letter grade for your performance from D to S+. A good number of the Orders in the game involve getting S+ on files so it's in a player's best interest to do well.
  • Gendered Outfit: The main female character's uniform has a few differences, the most prominent being the short shorts.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All:
    • Not to the extreme of, say, Pokémon, but recapturing the four Legions that go berserk during a mission gone wrong is the main narrative hook for the first few hours of the game.
    • You're also encouraged to take pictures of Chimeras in order to fill out the database, and you get rewarded if you do so.
    • Each level has three hidden collectables: a stray cat to rescue, a public toilet to inspect, and an almost-literal Metal Slime to hunt.
    • There are six Lappy-related items obtained by doing Lappy-related cases.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The game doesn't provide any hints to the passcode locking some of the Duty Reports in File 6 and 10. The player has to know that the reports were written by Max (which isn't known until you open them) and that he'd pick a number significant to him, in this case, the twins' birth date.
    • The tutorial for Lappy's Balloon Bash neglects to mention that the player character in it (Lappy) can run if the left analogue stick is pressed down. It's also possible to dodge in the game, but that's not nearly as useful for getting balloons in the hands of the right folks.
    • One particularly obscure hidden quest was only discovered and completed weeks after the game's release, and only after some players dug around through some game files. To get the Stylish Helmet, the player has to interact with the broken armbot, SA-R036, in File 3 until all new dialogue is exhausted. This is the only real instance in the game where the NPCs have more than a couple lines of dialogue for repeated interaction. Afterwards, the player must then locate this same robot, in sequence, in four other files and again exhaust all new dialogue. It's very easy to miss the first leg of the quest, it doesn't seem to indicate that it starts a quest line, and all of its future triggers are in out-of-the-way locations that players normally wouldn't revisit. Even worse, after the second leg of the quest, the robot completely disappears from its location after it's said all of its dialogue, without any real indication that it's moved to its next spot.
  • Half-Identical Twins: The player character and their younger sibling Akira. The game actually alters Akira's skin and eye colors based on what you put into the character select screen at the start, so whatever choices you made, they will avert the usual anime sibling stereotypes and ALWAYS actually share your traits. Averted otherwise, as their hairstyle and color remain the same in any other capacity.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The sibling you pick has no official name, and you are asked to name that person. Your younger twin is named Akira Howard. Despite the lack of a proper Canon Name, the "random" option when naming grants each sibling 4 unique names: Ryo, Kazuma, Yamato and Hayato for the brother, and Akane, Miki, Misaki and Kaede for the sister. If the player character is addressed directly, it's usually by "Howard".
  • Heroic Mime: Whichever sibling the player chooses becomes this. Conversely, whoever ends up becoming Akira engages in normal conversations a lot. However, the introduction to File 12 has the player character deliver a monologue detailing what happened during the month after File 11.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The English dub doesn't seem to bother with mouth flaps during advanceable cutscenes with dialogue boxes. It's particularly noticeable during Jena's monologue about the true nature of the Astral Plane.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The battles with the Neuron Legion Nemeses during File 02 and the clash with the RAVEN Corps in File 10.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Called "playstyles" by the game, since they also change some of the rules:
    • Casual gives the player more defense and extra revives per File. The optional "Unchained" modifier also automates most Action Commands to make combat simpler, and grants unlimited revives to the player, making it impossible to actually get a "game over".
    • Pt Standard gives the player fewer revives and more powerful enemies. It's also the minimum difficulty that qualifies for Gameplay Grading.
    • Pt Ultimate is only available when replaying a File after clearing it once. The player only has as many revives as their equipment upgrades allow, enemies are even stronger, and damage taken by Legions comes out of your health instead of energy.
  • Interface Spoiler: None of the orders detail any major spoilers of the story, but reading through them early on in the game tells you of certain things to expect to happen in specific files.
  • Invisible to Normals: Chimeras are invisible to normal folks. Only those with Legion can see them. In fact, it's a bad sign if a regular person can see chimeras, as it means they're redshifting.
  • Jump Scare: Played for Laughs when Lappy gives you a tour around the station. Every time you go to a new area, Lappy shows up behind you without warning. You're always startled, with the Joy Cons rumbling from the mini-heart attack he gives you.
  • "Just Frame" Bonus: Comes in three flavors:
    • Perfect Dodge, when you evade an enemy attack at the last possible moment. This can be followed up with a Sync Attack if your Legion has learned Perfect Dodge + Sync.
    • Your Legions can learn Perfect Call, in which calling your Legion right as you're about to get hit results in your Legion knocking the enemy away. They can also learn Perfect Call + Sync which lets you follow up with a Sync Attack. The Axe Legion's Perfect Call is a direct parry akin to previous Platinum titles.
    • Parry is an equippable Legion Ability that is executed by pushing the left stick in the direction of the enemy attack, similar to the Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa accessory from Bayonetta.
  • Justified Extra Lives: You're equipped with a portable AED, which can bring you back from the brink of death a limited number of times. Gaining higher ranks nets you even more revives.
  • Keystone Army: It doesn't matter how many chimeras you kill, thanks to the Astral Plane they'll keep coming back to murder and/or kidnap humans. It's only when you kill Noah, a being that has merged with the Astral Plane, that chimera attacks lessen.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: The twins' father, Max, used to come to Maison Forest to help tend to some stray cats. He made Akira keep it a secret from everyone, lest it ruin his tough-guy reputation. His kids seemed to take after him in this regard; one of the collectible side missions throughout the game is finding stray cats in each file, which are then placed in a safe haven that the player can visit.
  • Playable Epilogue: File 12 ends up being this, consisting mostly of a series of "cases" that you can tackle in any order after beating the game.
  • Last Lousy Point: Completing the enemy list is systematic enough, just snap every Chimera you fight at least once, but filling in all the different Aberrations is a nightmare. These have thirty-something entries alone, one for every combination of Redshift victim (civilian male, civilian female, nomad, officer, scientist) and weapon (blade, large blade, sword and shield, gladius, bow) with several having Filthwing variants as well. You're all but guaranteed to have to replay half the game obsessively photographing every one of these complete non-threats to find the one type you're missing.
  • Lawman Baton: Your character uses a transforming futuristic one which sometimes emit energy.
  • Level in Reverse: File 2 and File 7 for the Rayleigh Plaza sections of each File have you traverse the three-story area in opposite directions.
  • Limit Break: After chapter 10, you get access to Legionic Fusion, which grants you a massive boost to your strength and speed. However, it requires you to fill up a gauge by doing a multitude of sync attacks first (or using a Resomax, which fills the gauge up instantly).
  • Magical Defibrillator: Your extra lives come in the form of an AED that shocks you back to life after a mortal blow, although it can only do it so many times (6 on Casual, 2 on Pt Standard, 0 on Pt Ultimate) unless the appropriate Unchained toggle is on. Yep, a shock to the heart is all you need after a chimera cuts through your chest like butter. You can make it even more "magical" by upgrading your Legatus, not only increasing your number of charges but also restoring more of your health, even beyond your maximum HP with enough upgrades.
  • Male Gaze: The female character's pose on the promotional art blatantly showcases her rear end.
  • Marathon Level: File 6 is a relatively long level compared to the others in the game's main story. It takes the player through roughly seven different sections and often takes a few hours to complete, more if the player chooses to be meticulous about exploration.
  • Mêlée à Trois: In the chapters involving Jena, the main conflict will typically be Neuron vs. the chimeras vs. the homunculi.
  • Metal Slime: Inspired by the trope's namesake, the GEL-C-A070C-00 appears once in each File, and will quickly run away and eventually flee if you don't deal with it fast enough. Defeating it rewards you with extremely rare Legion abilities.
  • Mighty Glacier: The main role of the Axe Legion. It's by far the slowest Legion, but it makes up for it with an invaluable defensive barrier that it can envelop the PC with at any time.
  • Monster Compendium: You can unlock database entries for the chimeras by taking photographs of them.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: In proud Platinum Games fashion. Any enemy larger than rank-and-file Mooks gets a cutscene and an intro splash that reads their name out. Unlike most examples, these don't peter out later on - thanks to the sheer variety of unique Chimera subspecies, you'll see new ones well into the postgame.
  • Morph Weapon: The X-Baton has three different modules which suit different needs. The default baton configuration is a well-balanced melee weapon, the pistol is the only ranged form of attack the player has outside of summoning their Legion and can fire fast yet individually weak bursts, and the gladius is a slow juggernaut that deals the most damage and can stun enemies.
  • Mundane Utility: Incredibly powerful, Chimera-slaying, last-hope-for-humanity Legions are frequently used for mundane police work, which is lampshaded by Akira when you use the Astral Chain to restrain a couple of brawling civilians and they forlornly admit they thought the days of breaking up petty squabbles were behind them. At one point, your Augmented Reality eyepiece, meant to be used for investigative work and profiling suspects, can be used to cheat at a shell game. Also, due to the Legions being invisible to normal people, they're often used as a way to eavesdrop on conversations from far away.
  • Multiethnic Name: From important characters to one-off NPCs you can scan with the IRIS, this trope comes in full force, usually pairing a Western first name with a Japanese last name and vice-versa. Justified in that mankind is on the brink of extinction and confined to a single man-made island. The citizens in Sector 5 have mainly Chinese names, with almost no ethnic variations, which makes sense since they've been sealed off from the rest of the Ark.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: By listening to what Jena had to say in file 5, Hal and the player character set off a chain of events that causes a chimeric outbreak in file 6 as well as causes them to either be arrested or become wanted fugitives.
  • Obviously Evil: With dirty, disheveled blonde hair and red eyes, it's pretty obvious from her character design that Jena Anderson is a villain. The footage of her from the opening introduction certainly doesn't help her case. Yosef doesn't fare much better in this regard with all his speeches of The Greater Good and humanity's need to transcend, made worse by the fact that his reveal as a villain is presented as a twist.
  • Only Six Faces: With the exception of important story characters, most NP Cs have the same face dressed up with different hair styles and accessories. In most cases, you can copy the exact look of these NP Cs.
  • Open Secret: Everyone at Neuron knows that Marie wears the Lappy costume, but she thinks she's keeping it secret from everyone. She even makes a huge confession about it, even though your first encounter with her was trying to find Lappy's head while she was getting into costume. Most people play along and try not to mention her name when talking to Lappy because it makes everyone feel better. The key word is "try", as some members of the office staff end up slipping and using her actual name on several occasions, which can be best experienced in the side quest where the player-controlled twin dons the Lappy costume to take over for Marie.
  • Police are Useless: Justified. The reason that Neuron was formed was because regular law enforcement was ill-equipped for the monster threat. There ARE sidequests involving regular police officers TRYING to be useful, like in apprehending normal criminals, however.
    • Unfortunately, most of Neuron is also ill-equipped to fight Chimeras. Prior to the game's main story, Max, Jin and Alicia are the only known users of Legions, with Max having had the longest experience with one for about 2 years. This doesn't last shortly after the game begins. The protagonist becomes the only living Legion user for a good portion of the game, made worse by Jena stealing Legion cores from the ARI in File 4, preventing new ones from being made. The missions involving many of the minor characters from Neuron HQ require you to save them from Chimeras and Jena's monsters, giving the impression that Neuron is essentially a group of glorified policeman with a bit more knowledge about what they're up against. This is finally addressed by the ending, exploring the HQ in File 13 will show that with Yoseph no longer siphoning resources for his own designs, everyone at Neuron is equipped with a new Legion within a month.
  • Post-End Game Content: Once you defeat the final boss, a new File opens up where Olive tasks you with a whopping 71 cases to complete, each featuring their own separate rules about what items to use and hordes of enemies far more numerous than what was encountered during the story.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Calling out the Legions dyes the player character's hair a bright blue, regardless of what their original hair color was. Later, when Akira becomes a part of Raven, their hair turns a bright shade of red when their Legion is out.
  • Puppet Fighter: The core of the gameplay revolves around this. The protagonists fight alongside the Stand-esque Legions, which are controlled with giant chains. The gameplay requires you to manually move your Legion both in and out of combat to help you reach new areas, bind up and counterattack enemies, and solve puzzles.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The game is more than glad to remind you that police officers don't go around doing stuff you'd do in any other video game. Smash some nearby boxes while you're tracking down a Chimera? Your sibling will call you out, and you'll suffer a score penalty as well.
    • Played for Laughs with the ice cream shop in Harmony Square. Instead of the ice cream being an inventory item, you hold it in your hand upon purchase and you have to balance it with your controller's motion sensor (if it has one) and the right analog stick, and either eat it or deliver it to a child as part of a Red Case before the stack of scoops falls apart.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Once Raven Squad is activated, the existing members of Neuron are neutered by basing them all out of separate precincts. This is mostly undone in the post-game, where they're all back together and with new Legions, to boot.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Jena Anderson, a terrorist who can take advantage of the Astral Plane, has solid red eyes, along with other marks of evil, like Tainted Veins.
    • The Legions adopt these when becoming more excited during combat. Also when they end up being corrupted by the Astral Plane and turn against Neuron.
  • Red Herring:
    • At the start of File 04, Yoseph can be seen having a meeting with three prophets, all of which are ashamed of him due to four of the five Legions going rogue and potentially dooming what's left of humanity as a result. You'd think they factor significantly into the ongoing plot, but they disappear entirely from the game afterwards.
    • After a Big Damn Heroes moment, Akira shows up in an all-black uniform, with black Legions that even surprise Jena. Then when they visit you in prison, and for some time after, they sound noticeably cocky and distant. This is right after you get warned not to trust "the crows", and sure enough Akria's uniform has RAVEN emblazoned all over it. Of course, given this is the trope, they never betray you. Akira's just on a power high now they can finally help again, and they're completely oblivious to the reality of the RAVEN program.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: The artificial island holding the last of humanity is called the Ark. Fittingly, the Final Boss is named Noah. In other words, Noah's Ark.
  • Scenery Porn: The game offers some amazing views of the Ark's many districts. The more urban areas in particular look like a beautiful blend of New York and Tokyo.
  • Sequential Boss: Two major examples:
    • Jena Anderson has three forms, though you get access to HQ and a motorcycle segment between the first and second forms.
    • The Final Boss, Noah, starts with a platforming segment reminiscent of those from Jena's final form, then pits you against its core. After its defeat, its berserk remains attack you as Noah Prime, who becomes Final Noah Prime when it's down to roughly 40% health.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Color Set 20 for the Legions is a dead ringer for Eva Unit 01.
  • In File 04, Yoseph gives a nod to Platinum's last game by suggesting that humanity "Become as Gods".
  • The Sword Legion's cutting mode takes much of its inspiration from Blade Mode in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. In addition, the finisher prompt the player obtains after the first few files has their Legion tear out their enemies' cores and crush them in their hands, fully restoring the player's health as a nod to the Zandatsu mechanic.
  • Some Dexterity Required: Getting the most out of Legions and the Astral Chain means effectively controlling two characters at once in a fast-paced action game. The player is eased into this as the first few Files introduce more complex commands in steps.
  • Speak in Unison: The player character and sibling both talk at the same time during the announcement trailer. The E3 trailer also showcases this at its climax. While still kinda creepy, it's a more hopeful usage of the trope, as it's used to emphasize their unity, especially as uplifting music plays when they say "He's still alive out there. I know he is." Averted in the game itself, as Akira talks normally but the player doesn't.
    • Towards the end of the game, Yoseph and Jena end up saying "Only I can save humanity!" simultaneously, demonstrating how they're Not So Different.
  • Spiritual Successor: In a way, the game can be considered an indirect revival of the cancelled Scalebound, with both being Platinum-developed games published by a first-party hardware developer as an intended system exclusive (Scalebound being published by Microsoft for the Xbox One, Astral Chain being published by Nintendo for the Switch), and both using the same basic concept of controlling both the player character and a connected Puppet Fighter who assists in combat (Scalebound allowed you to control a giant dragon, while Astral Chain allows you to use different Legion).
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: The twin you select as the Player Character will always be the older sibling and The Hero. The other twin henceforth named Akira is delegated to a support role as another member of Neuron.
  • Star Scraper: The ARI is headquartered in a tower that has over 400 floors.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: A good portion of File 6 involves sneaking your way past guards in order to infiltrate Section V. Your IRIS gives a detailed map of where the guards are and their field of vision. You can easily chain bind them unconscious with your legion, and the missions give a good reputation bonus for not being spotted.
  • Theme Naming: Every type of Chimera that gets a Mook Debut Cutscene is named after something related to Greek Mythology. Zeus, Tartarus, Diomedes, etc.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Two of the drug lords you're sent to hunt down are named Kyle and Douglas.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Defied. The lion's share of items the player finds are "field supply items" marked with a trailing ! in the item name. These are lost at the end of the File under the pretense of turning them into the station, encouraging players to actually use them. File 6 has a quest that can reward you with 5 extremely expensive Missile Drones for use in combat. You'd be crazy to not use that kind of power.
  • Totalitarian Gangsterism: Sector 5 is controlled by a group of hackers known as the Hermits. A gang-like organization that brings some semblance of order to a lawless shantytown whose existence has been completely written off by the UNION as not worth acknowledging. They give its citizens the opportunity to work for them if they can prove themselves to be strong enough, and the citizens themselves admit that as long as you don't bother them, they largely won't bother you.
  • Tsundere: Vendor-3 units the game's camera mode indicates as (Rude) behave like this.
    Vendor-3: It's not like I care what drink you want or anything!
  • Underground Monkey: There are only so many Chimera body types, but each has numerous variations, each with visual differences and changes in moveset.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Akira somehow manages to survive Noah's destruction, though they lose a good chunk of their memories. Documentation on the PC reveals that Akira's Legion, who serves as an extension of Akira themselves after they merged, transferred Akira's consciousness to one of the surviving clones from the REI lab, albeit with the nasty events of what went down in REI erased. Probably for the best, given what Akira's mental state was at the time.
  • Unique Enemy: Oodles of them. Plenty of larger Chimeras only show up in a single battle all game long. The game's Metal Slime is one of the more common enemy types by dint of appearing Once an Episode.
  • Variable-Length Chain: The Astral Chain itself is as long as convenient. During several cutscenes new links can be seen stretching into existence. One possible move even relies on the chain extending and then stopping at an arbitrary point. Justified since it's not an object made of physical links.
  • Vendor Trash: Salvage items, all manner of broken and damaged detritus that exist only to be sold for cash. The item in that category with any purpose is cat food, but said uses are optional and it's easily acquired in quantity (naturally, this means it also sells for a pittance).
  • Video Game Caring Potential: One of the optional "collectibles" in the Files are Blueshifting civilians. They are oftentimes visibly ill, suffering, and even bedridden, and to see them back to full health thanks to your actions is always heartwarming, even if they never realize it's you. More generally, Blue Cases involve you going out of your way for all manner of menial tasks like procuring a Lappy toy for an ill child in the ARI.
    • The player can also partake in maintenance for their Legion by removing the hidden Red Matter attached to their body at HQ. This does have a slight benefit to gameplay, as cleaner Legions act more responsively.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: To complete the Persons of Interest part of your database, you need a photo of Officer Carlos Kajioka in his civilian clothing since he won't register on the camera while he's in uniform. How do you accomplish this? Late in the game, he's on the cusp of capturing the leader of a terrorist organisation, but the chase leads both him and the perp to the Astral Plane. After the requisite chimera are dealt with, the criminal manages to break free and runs deeper into the hellish dimension to escape both the superpowered protagonist and the freakishly persistent (and highly virtuous) Carlos. An exhausted Kajioka asks the protagonist whether they should bother recapturing the fugitive or if they should just leave him to die in the Astral Plane. If the player chooses the former, they and Carlos bring the mastermind to justice. Unfortunately, Carlos stays a cop in this route. If the player encourages him to do the latter, the act shatters Carlos' faith in both the law and himself, causing him to retire and exile himself to the Zone 09 building that Hal uses as a hideout.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: The player character's appearance can be extensively customized at their Neuron HQ locker.
  • Voice Grunting: And boy howdy is it jarring in an otherwise fully voiced game. Link at least had the decency to shut up during cutscenes for his first fully dubbed adventure, but your Heroic Mime here will gleefully attempt to communicate despite his/her total inability to use proper words.
  • Wake-Up Call: File 2 serves as this. It serves to show the twins just how much more dangerous working for Neuron is than working for criminal affairs. In an act of arrogance, they take on a chimera thought to be the culprit of a case by themselves. Though they are victorious they fail to prevent some civilians from redshifting into Aberrations. Then they find out that the main chimera they're after is an entirely different chimera so they chase after that. The protagonist gets sucked into the Astral Plane, which Olive warned them to not go into. On top of that they nearly die against it. The rest of the team pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment and ends up losing four out of five of their Legions as a result and Max needs to perform a Heroic Sacrifice just to make sure they get out alive.
  • Wham Episode: File 4: Siege. It introduces a threat more dangerous than Chimeras as well as goes more in depth into the feelings of worthlessness that Jin is feeling since Max sacrificed himself to allow the team to escape. It's also the level to introduce Jena Anderson who easily negates your Legion and nearly kills Akira. The file perfectly illustrates how much of an uphill battle the protagonists will be faced with, with everyone on the team, including the player character, needing to be saved in one way or another.
  • Zonk: Several end-of-case bonuses, such as Faulty Footwork and Sloppy Strikes, are in fact penalties in that they replace mutually-exclusive bonuses that are worth more points, if you don't meet their conditions.


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