By Steve Baltimore / June 23rd, 2016
|Title||Anima: Gate of Memories|
|Release Date||June 3, 2016|
I didn’t really know what to expect when I decided to take a look at Anima: Gate of Memories. The trailer impressed me with a game that looked to have fast-paced action RPG gameplay, as well as some stunning environments. However, as we all know, beauty is only skin deep, so let’s dig into this one and see if it is as good as it looks.
The story of Anima follows a girl simply known as the Bearer of Calamity. She has in her possession a book with an entity trapped inside, called Ergo Mundus. Ergo claims to be a demon, and, though his true origin is not known, he can assume a physical form. He made a pact with the Bearer when she summoned him, and the two work for an ancient society called Nathaniel. This society protects the world from darkness. The story begins with Nathaniel trying to retrieve an artifact called the Byblos from an enemy order. After a long chase, our protagonist ends up in a large magical construct and is swallowed by a huge beam of light. Our heroes awaken in a strange place where evil creatures are being summoned. This is the start of something darker than they could ever imagine.
While I had no prior knowledge of the Anima tabletop books or the Kickstarter, I found the story pretty interesting. Since the main story is told through books left by inhabitants of each area of the game, it made the story even more intriguing to figure out exactly what as going on. However, there are some serious grammar problems found in the game’s text. I’m guessing the developers’ first language is not English, so this will break the immersion a bit, even though the Bearer does read most of the books to you aloud.
The one area Anima: Gate of Memories really shines is in the graphics department. All of the character models and environments look fantastic. There is large variety of areas to explore here, ranging from deep dark dungeons to wide open grassy fields. Each area is very detailed and a joy to take in, and the 60 FPS framerate makes the action smooth as silk. The only issue I have with the graphics is some of the dungeons are really dark. I’m sure they did this to show off the lighting effect, but, when it’s so dark I cannot see where each set of spike traps ends on the walls and they want me to run through several sets of them, it becomes annoying quickly.
In the sound department, the music is fantastic. There are lots of fantasy-inspired themes found throughout the game that add to the great atmosphere of each stage. The vocal tracks are equally as impressive. The voice acting in the game is pretty bad, though, to be honest. Ergo sounds like a jacked up horndog most of the time, and the Bearer sounds like she needs coffee to keep from nodding off. I’ve not heard voice acting this bad in a long time. On a side note, whoever had the idea to have Ergo sing during a fight, it was not a good one.
The gameplay is that of basic third-person action fare. You have a series of attacks you can string together as combos. These combos are fully customizeable to your playstyle, which is nice. You can also switch back and forth between the two characters during the combos giving you more freedom to chain together awesome attacks. You also have at your disposal a variety of special attacks for each character. These will be unlocked as you gain levels and use the skill tree for each character. However, like with most games of this genre, you will find one combination of moves you like the best and stick with that. You can also find equipment to boost your various stats.
From the world hub, you access different areas of the game. There will be various puzzles to solve in each area. Most of these are simple block puzzles or ‘find the switch’ types of puzzle. The real issue here is that the world is quite large and there is no fast travel option, so you end up doing a lot of backtracking. The other major issue I have is the controls seem really loose to me to do the kind of precision platforming some of these areas require. If you fall off or die by a hazard, you will lose some health and start back at the beginning of the room. This becomes irritating quickly when you keep falling off because you feel you don’t have complete control of your character. The other glaring issue here is the boss battles. They are so difficult they actually break the game’s balance. You will be slaying every enemy in an area with little trouble, then come upon the boss and be slaughtered, so it’s a good thing it autosaves before each fight. What makes this so bad is the game forces you to learn each boss’s attack patterns to find openings, which would be fine if the rest of the game was more difficult and you had to do that before this. Leveling up helps a little bit, but your health potions restore you health so slowly that it’s still a struggle.
While I cannot say I hated my time playing Anima: Gate of Memories, I think the game needed a bit more polish and balancing before releasing it. The game is around 12 hours long and features multiple endings based on the choices you make. This does give it some replay value if you want to punish yourself some more with the platforming. This is a budget title at $19.99, and a very small team did an impressive job with what they had to work with, but some of these flaws simply cannot be overlooked. If you’re a hardcore fan of third-person action games with a dark atmosphere, you’ll probably find something you love here. However, if neither of those things is your cup of tea, you should probably look elsewhere.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Action RPGanima gate of memoriesAnima Projectbadlands games