I’m increasingly convinced that Astral Chain

is the most beautiful game on Switch. Breath of the Wild is a gorgeous pastel-pastoral, Super Mario Odyssey still has that sheer cartoon charm, and the likes of Thumper and Ape Out drip with expressive style. But only PlatinumGames’ latest has caused me to run out of room on my SD card through sheer weight of screenshots.Its cyberpunk island-city setting, The Ark, is a blanketing haze of neon, either buzzing down from buildings, or reflected back up at you from rainfall-slick streets. Its characters feel like they’ve sprung into 3D from an anime, a grab-bag of pink hair, eyepatches and over-the-top animations. Even its frenetic, two-tone combat is an exercise in visual flair, the titular chain whipping across the battlefield, as both player and Legion (your semi-AI controlled living weapon) dance their way through combat.

A major part of all this is the animation, but I think you can get a pretty good sense of what I’m talking about through screenshots. Here’s a gallery, with some observations about what I think it’s getting so right:

Astral Chain Is Absurdly Pretty

It feels like a small miracle that it runs as smoothly as it does, while still cramming this much detail in. I recently had a chance to talk to director Takahisa Taura, and asked him whether it was tough. Amazingly, he didn’t think so – his (short) answer: “There was no particular difficulty just because it was for Switch.” In fact, what Taura says Platinum found most difficult was accounting for UI text that could be read on both TV and handheld.

I don’t know what cybermagic they have over there in Osaka, but I’m sure a few other developers would like a sprinkling of it too. It helps, of course, that this is a game being made specifically for Switch, and with the help of Nintendo to boot (Taura calls it a “really good working relationship”). It can only bode well for the upcoming Bayonetta 3 – then newest in a series not short on flashy effects and good looks itself.

Astral Chain doesn’t just have good looks to its name – our 9/10 review says it’s “another excellent game from Platinum, and one of the best action games of this generation. Period.” I highly recommend you take a look.

Joe Skrebels is IGN’s UK Deputy Editor, and he’s been shouting this opinion at people for weeks. Follow him on Twitter.

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