Title: Anima -
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Steam
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Hack and Slash, RPG
Players: Single player
Written by Dragoon 24th September 2016
A Hack and Slash game generally puts all of the attention on the gameplay but Anima: Gate of Memories takes a different direction, instead focusing on its world and lore. It was a gutsy move for the developers to make that could have worked with the right execution but it just doesn’t pay off in the end. It’s a real shame as well because the world is genuinely interesting and fleshed out, being based on a tabletop RPG which was heavily inspired by Japanese RPG philosophies. The negatives outweigh the positives though and what we’re left with is a frustrating and tedious game that could have been so much more, especially after its successful Kickstarter campaign.
We take control of a girl who goes by the title of The Bearer. She lost her name due to entering into a contract with a demon by the name of Ergo, I’m still not entirely sure why this had to happen but that’s a common theme in this game. Names and concepts are dropped all over the place with little explanation in conversations, they are explained elsewhere but it makes things difficult to follow at times. The story focuses on these two as they attempt to recover something called the Byblos while fighting all kinds of evil creatures along the way. The actual plot is rather meandering and generic, the bad guys took the McGuffin so you have to get it back because it’s apparently important.
As for the characters themselves they are either dull as dishwater or infuriating. The Bearer is a brooding nobody who’s main reason for existing is for the male characters to gawk at and awkwardly hit on. The worst offender is Ergo, he has a strange habit of calling The Bearer “Baby” at the end of every sentence and making absolutely awful jokes. He also makes some very questionable remarks about what he would do to a sleeping Bearer which just come off as creepy. The rest of the supporting cast are mostly just clichés or are there solely to dump exposition. This coupled with the games atrocious voice acting makes it very hard to like any of the characters.
Where Anima really shines is its world. You can tell a lot of love has been put into it with many interesting locales with matching lore that you slowly uncover as you fight your way through them. For example a creepy haunted mansion that was once home to a manikin maker, his creations have come to life and as you work your way through you begin to piece together what happened through various journals and the environment itself. While these environments are interesting their actual level design is far from it. The forced platforming sections are infuriating due to the sticky controls and some of the puzzles and traps are stupidly hard, the spike corridor in the haunted mansion area had me losing the will to live due to how frustrating it was.
The main meat of a Hack and Slash game is the gameplay but again Anima falls flat on its face. The sticky controls persist in combat and it never feels slick and intuitive to combo moves. You can switch between Bearer and Ergo mid fight but it makes little difference other than them having their own health bars. The enemies will often drop out of a combo that should work and your character falls too quickly for satisfying aerial ones. The camera is also a monster to battle with which is a big issue in a game where you’re being attacked from all directions.
The game has a strange cel-
Anima: Gate of Memories is a game that had a lot of potential but it just couldn’t live up to it. The well fleshed out world is let down by a generic story and cliché riddled characters. The environments tell an interesting story but at the same time they don’t always look the part along with the characters and creatures within them. The Bearer is a bland pair of breasts on legs and Ergo is a quite frankly a giant douche, you usually want your main characters to be lovable and relatable but these guys are far from that. The game controls awkwardly and the combat is dull and about as deep as a puddle which is a shame, especially when you compare it to the likes of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta which this game tries to emulate. Fans of the tabletop RPG will no doubt enjoy this but for someone like me who will be playing it blind there’s little here to entice or entertain.
Surprisingly good soundtrack.
Infuriating level design.
Anima: Gate of Memories is one gate that’s better left closed, it gets a disappointing 4/10.