Astral Chain

In this series of end-of-year features, we're summing up some of 2019's biggest talking points.

Just as Hollywood studios will bank on a beloved franchise rather than take a risk on the unknown, video game publishers are becoming increasingly reliant on established series when it comes to raking in the cash.

Juggernauts such as FIFA, Grand Theft Auto, Assassin's Creed, Zelda, Mario and many, many more are tentpole names upon which millions and millions of dollars are lavished each year, with the creators safe in the knowledge that the outlay will be recouped without too much bother, thanks to the pre-existing fanbase.

Therefore, taking a punt on a brand-new IP is a gamble that many publishers are reluctant to even consider, which is what made the critical and commercial success of PlatinumGames' 2019 Switch hit Astral Chain all the more encouraging; it was a brand-new franchise from a studio which has plenty of existing IP it can use. Instead, PlatinumGames (and Nintendo, which published the title) took a chance and duly reaped the rewards.

Granted, Astral Chain built on the good work seen in other PlatinumGames titles, but its mix of detective drama and thrilling, combo-heavy action (using every button on the Switch to boot) made it a stand-out hit; so much so, in fact, that the Nintendo Life team voted it the game of the year.

It doesn't always turn out as well as it did with Astral Chain; Switch's other big new IP in 2019 – Daemon X Machina – was merely good rather than great, but we're still glad that the console was capable of hosting these fresh new AAA experiences. Hopefully, 2020 will offer similar surprises alongside the established 'old guard' of big-name franchises.