“Anima: Gate of Memories is a third person action RPG that tells the story of two beings bound by an unwilling pact, an ancient monster and a girl who lost her past…
Forced to stay together, their lives will take a unexpected turn when both discover that something darker than they could imagine is about to start, a war in the shadows in which they will have a leading role.”
– The Anima: Gate Of Memories Steam page (http://store.steampowered.com/app/380750/)
– Decent combat –
From the opening battle of Anima: Gate Of Memories you’ll notice the similarities to action titles such as Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. There’s third person fighting, it’s incredibly quick paced, you’ll be blasting enemies into the air and wiping them out with air combos, you’ll be shooting projectiles from all angles – if the mechanics themselves weren’t familiar enough you also get rewarded for your high combos with words such as ‘COOL’ popping up on the screen.
You get to play as two different characters that each have separate skill sets and health bars – you can actually switch between characters mid-combo in battle too, setting up some pretty sweet attacks that actually work really well in-game.
The game considers itself more of an action-RPG as opposed to a third person action title, so you’ll also be able to level up your characters and improve their stats and skills. You’ll unlock new abilities and improve upon others through the game’s skill trees, but can also improve your stats by equipping a variety of different items and weapons to each of your characters. It doesn’t change anything up visually, but it’s neat to have some control of what stats you want your characters to strengthen up.
Admittedly the battling doesn’t have the same fluidity of games like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, but it’s certainly a good effort given that the game is a budget release with such a low price point.
– The game world looks great –
Whilst Anima: Gate Of Memories’ visuals aren’t always stunning (in honesty some areas look outright ugly), for the most part everything looks undeniably attractive. There’s a good mixture of large and spacious environments and more intimate smaller locations too – one minute you’ll be exploring the depths of a claustrophobic trap infested dungeon whilst you’ll be venturing atop treacherous clifftops the next.
One of my favourite locations is found quite early in the game – you explore a creepy mansion that not only has a dungeon full of mysteriously masked beings, but is also inhabited by living marionettes (another thing that reminded me of Devil May Cry) that want nothing but to kill you. It’s eerie and the game did a good job of creating a spooky atmosphere.
Wherever you are in-game though be it in some creepy mansion, gothic town or open field, credit must be given to the developers for making such a great world to explore.
– Whilst combat is neat battles can feel repetitive –
I’ve already mentioned that the combat in the game is enjoyable and I stick by that point. It’s just that the way that the battles are set up is so un-inspiring, with battles often being confined to small areas that send hordes upon hordes of re-spawning enemies towards you. This isn’t uncommon in action games, but some of these re-spawning sequences go on for so long and there’s no real thought outside of mashing buttons to beat the enemies. Combat is decent, sure, but it doesn’t do enough to engage you throughout the game’s lengthy campaign.
There’s no unique gameplay hook that the game introduces and the combat environments themselves so often put you in such a small environment that you can’t even interact with anything around you – you simply move, mash buttons and wait until either you or your enemies die.
– I never felt involved with the story –
Anima: Gate Of Memories places you in the roles of a young woman known as The Bearer and Ergo, a floating book that can also take on the form of a somewhat demonic looking man. The Bearer and Ergo are part of an ancient society called ‘Nathaniel’ and are tasked with uncovering an artifact known as the ‘Byblos’. Of course, things go wrong and after awakening in a strange structure they realise they’re part of something much bigger and dangerous than a simple artifact recovery mission…
I’ll admit that before I played Anima: Gate Of Memories I hadn’t even heard of the role-playing books or miniature wargame that it’s based upon. Whilst there’s an obvious amount of lore and back story on offer, it’s never properly explored in the game – it took me a long time before I started to understand what was really going on and even then things were never explained in enough detail to have me really appreciate the game’s story or characters.
– It felt like a last-gen game –
Whilst there are things I liked about Anima: Gate Of Memories’ gameplay, I couldn’t help but to find the that everything felt incredibly last-gen. Be it the gameplay mechanics, the camera angles, the awkward platforming – if the game didn’t look so good you could easily mistake it for a Playstation 2 game.
It’s a low budget release though so you can let a few things slide, but the game is guilty of both feeling and looking a little dated at times.
– The awkward camera angles –
The game throws some bad camera angles your way, something that’s especially apparent during some of the platforming sections. Whilst the controls generally work well enough for you to accurately make each jump, there’s no guarantee that the camera will function properly and follow you efficiently.
Whilst it’s frustrating to be sent back to the start of a platforming section due to an awkward camera, you’ll also notice it during combat and when trying to explore some of the game’s more confined areas.
Anima: Gate Of Memories has a lot of potential to offer an enjoyable action-RPG experience, but it’s let down by the fact that it simply feels dated. Uninspired battling? Check. A lacking script and story? Check. Bad camera angles? Double check.
The doesn’t mean the game is all bad though with some decent combat and an often gorgeous game world to explore – it’s just that they’re the only positives that can be found in what is otherwise an often unremarkable experience.
Developer: Anima Project (www.gateofmemories.com)
Publisher: Badland Indie (www.badlandindie.com)
Release Date: 03/06/2016
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC