Hi, everyone! I’m Yuki Suda, concept artist for ASTRAL CHAIN. The devblog baton’s been passed off to me, so I hope you’ll join me on a little run through the Ark! This devblog should give you a deeper understanding of ASTRAL CHAIN’s setting. Hopefully you’ll come away with a few fun facts that’ll make the game even more enjoyable for you!
First, let’s take a look at the geography of the Ark, the artificial island where the game takes place. Shortly after you start playing, you’ll hear a lot about certain areas – “Zone 36” this, “Zone 10” that – which may feel pretty disorienting as you’ve just gotten your hands on the controller for the first time.
So let’s get you oriented to the Ark in advance! That way, you’ll feel right at home as soon as you fire up the game.
The Ark is a megafloat – a massive, artificial island city – made up of separate districts joined together. These districts, in turn, are made up of smaller areas called zones. The island has grown larger and changed shape over time, as more and more zones were constructed. When the main story of ASTRAL CHAIN takes place, it’s about 250 to 300 square kilometers. Each district has its own atmosphere and characteristics that set it apart from the others.
Each zone is designated by a two-digit number. The first digit tells you which district it’s a part of, and the second digit is the zone’s number within that district. For example, Zone 36 is the sixth zone established in District Three. The Ark is made up of five regular districts, from 0x to 4x, plus one special district that you might have noticed at the top right of the map. You’ll learn more about that one later…
Given limited space and resources, each district has been built up in its own way throughout the Ark’s history. This results in some complex cityscapes, like the valley of skyscrapers you see here.
ASTRAL CHAIN’s story will lead you to investigate several different parts of the Ark. Some of these are lively areas full of people, and some are forbidden to those without the highest levels of clearance!
Many shots of the Ark that we’ve been able to show off so far feature an abundance of signs and billboards. These may look like neon, but in the world of ASTRAL CHAIN, signs like this are actually holographic projections. I had a major hand in creating all these signs as part of establishing the Ark’s aesthetic!
A deep dive into these hologram signs provides an insight into the kind of lifestyles that people lead on the Ark.
These logos are so stylized they may be challenging for even Japanese players to read! But here we have an advertisement for an “imitation clothing” store, and something called a “neuroboutique.” Other signs throughout the game promise “generic seafood,” top-class synthetic meat, and more. Just the sort of businesses you’d expect in a world as rich in technology – but poor in raw, organic resources – as the Ark.
Here, tucked away among the fashion brands and energy drink ads, we have a billboard advertising insurance. But it’s not just any insurance; this plan provides coverage for redshift – devastating corruption caused by alien matter from beyond our dimension.
I’d love to go through each and every sign one by one and give you as much detail as I could, but that would result in the longest devblog in PlatinumGames history! So let’s leave it at that for now. Please keep an eye out for interesting signs while you’re playing! Moving on…
Urban life on the Ark offers all sorts of conveniences, and what’s more convenient than vending machines? Ark residents are never too far from drinks, ice cream, and even hot meals like hamburgers, right at the push of a button. (Have you ever had something piping hot out of a vending machine before? It’s not too uncommon in Japan, but I guess it may take some getting used to…)
Naturally, you’ll be able to use some of these vending machines as item shops.
The ultra-advanced Vendor-3 units aren’t your ordinary vending machines! They’re loaded up with an advanced AI that allows them to make small talk with customers. Some of the Vendor-3 machines you’ll encounter have had a few unique tweaks made to their personality routines, so if you see a new one, don’t forget to say hi. Pick up a tasty beverage while you’re at it!
Okay, well, I tried to keep this brief, but it went longer than I expected. Thanks for reading! I hope you got a sense of how much detail is waiting for you in the world of ASTRAL CHAIN!
After joining PlatinumGames in 2015, Yuki Suda worked on enemy designs and environmental art for NieR:Automata. Now, as a concept artist for ASTRAL CHAIN, he’s had a hand in establishing the look and feel of the Ark. His blood type is A, his zodiac sign is Cancer, and he loves hamburgers and melon soda, just in case you were wondering.