PlatinumGames completely knocked it out of the park with a couple of their most recent games so let's find out which one's superior.
For starters, I expected Astral Chain to have a generic plot which only acts as an excuse for you to keep fighting Chimera. However, as the story unfolded, I was impressed by how many twists and turns there were, especially pertaining to your character's origins and Yoseph's true intentions. That being said, how could you compete with NieR: Automata? It has one of the most mind-blowing stories in the history of gaming and as if playing it once wasn't enough, you can play through it again and again to reveal more about its world's history and secrets. It's one of the few games that I think about regularly even though I completed it over 2 years ago.
Now, this category is a lot less clean cut. I absolutely loved the cast of characters in Astral Chain. Even though you play as a generic protagonist, every one of your comrades has a unique personality and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in the headquarters while chatting with everyone inside. NieR: Automata obviously has a more iconic protagonist in the form of 2B and her comrades at YoRHa include the chipper 6O and the sympathetic 9S. Also, the antagonists Adam and Eve are downright creepy but overall, I enjoyed interacting with the cast of Astral Chain much more so it wins here. Plus, its villain is pretty surprising, too.
When it comes to core combat, Astral Chain and NieR: Automata are actually rather similar. First of all, they both involve unleashing melee and long-range attacks while commanding a hovering partner whether it's Astral Chain's Legions or NieR: Automata's Pods. I find the main difference between the 2 games' combat to be their sense of viscerality. NieR: Automata feels fantastic as you dodge enemy projectiles while unleashing all sorts of attacks. However, the combat in Astral Chain is a lot more involving and intense as you have to attend to many facets of battle in order to emerge victorious in many confrontations. Severing chains between enemies then beating on them only to crush their life force feels amazing so Astral Chain wins this category, too, but definitely not by a lot.
Besides combat, both of these incredible games feature lots of other gameplay elements. Astral Chain's main focus outside of fighting Chimera is its detective segments which are quite immersive and hold the campaign together beautifully. Meanwhile, NieR: Automata is action-intense from start to finish so when you're not fighting enemies in the traditional sense, you'll be taking part in shoot 'em up segments, hacking mini-games, side-scrolling sections, and toppling massive bosses in unique gameplay scenarios. It goes without saying but when it comes to supplementary gameplay, NieR: Automata goes above and beyond and leaves you wanting more.
Both Astral Chain and NieR: Automata are stylish, visually appealing, and fantastic games to simply watch. While Astral Chain has a more futuristic neon look with detailed character models and environments, NieR: Automata takes a much subtler approach by offering soft colour palettes within its mysterious and oddly unsettling world. This is a tough one because I love looking at both games but if I had to choose, I would pick NieR: Automata for the fact that it portrays an unrelenting eerie atmosphere in such a masterful way.
I must admit; Astral Chain's soundtrack is outstanding and I definitely didn't give it enough credit in my review. The way that the music turns from atmospherically haunting to energetic as soon as you encounter enemies is just awesome and the whole score is filled with layered tracks that combine vocals, orchestral arrangements, and electronica wonderfully. Having said that, very few games have music as memorable as NieR: Automata. Simply listening to the soundtrack doesn't even do it justice because as you play it, the musical soundscapes blend so seamlessly into each other that it's jaw-dropping. Even though I'm listening to an awesome DJ mix by Habischman right now, I can still hear the evocative melodies of NieR: Automata simply by thinking about them so it wins this final category.
It was certainly fun to relive these 2 top-notch gaming experiences from PlatinumGames but it's time to pick an overall winner which is...
Winner NieR: Automata
Although Astral Chain is a must-play action game that's full of variety and a great cast of characters, NieR: Automata remains one of the most unforgettable games ever created complete with a mind-blowing story and soundtrack. Even though it won this matchup, if you're a modern gamer and haven't played both of these amazing games then you need to reprioritize your backlog and get to it. They're 2 of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences in recent years and worth playing for anyone who's even mildly interested in action games, especially ones with memorable stories and stylish graphics.
That's just my opinion. Agree? Disagree? Vote now!