Game Review: Anima: Gate of Memories (PS4)
08/08/2016 Leave a comment
With so many games being published across multiple-platforms it can become extremely easy to a miss a handful of titles, especially those ones with virtually no promotion and marketing behind them; which coincidentally leads me onto Anima: Gate of Memories, a game which, despite having no real publicity behind it, isn’t half bad and provides some interesting entertaining at the fraction of the cost; but does this mean that Anima: Gate of Memories is worth your attention? Well let’s take a look!
|Title:||Anima: Gate of Memories|
|Resolution:||1920 X 1080|
|Subtitles:||English, French, Spanish (White)|
What originally started life as a Kickstarter Campaign led by Kai Nesbit has soon formulated into a third-person action-adventure styled RPG title known as Anima: Gate of Memories (or Anima: Gates of Memories as I keep incorrectly calling it) and while it may offer that visually simplistic apparel and lack-lusture voice-acting one might expect from an Indie developed game it does feature a thought provoking storyline that just might keep you engaged till the end…
To some, and that’s me included, Anima: Gate of Memories will seem like a stand-a-lone adventure within a unique world of magic and sorcery; but alas this game is actually part of the Anima Beyond Fantasies collection which is a work of media collaborating a larger universe together. Whether or not each part of the ‘Beyond Fantasies’ collection makes up a complete story remains to be seen; but this game does expand that universe and brings it up into an entirely new media of entertainment.
When it comes to the story then Anima: Gate of Memories puts players in control of The Bearer, a female protagonist who seemingly has no memories prior to joining the society, and Ergo, a demonic male character that takes the form of a book when travelling with The Bearer, as they venture forth to protect the world from evil creatures known as Nightmare as well as attempt to reclaim the Byblos artefact which is said to cause world destruction if fallen into the wrong hands.
From my perspective the story within Anima: Gate of Memories may seem simplistic, with its one minded purpose of saving the world from destruction by retrieving an ancient artefact; but it is done with such detail and immersion that, if you ignore the rather terrible voice acting and stationary 3D cut-scenes that do nothing to immerse you into the story, you will find yourself caring for the characters and wanting to know more. For example the society that The Bearer and Ergo work for is surrounded in mystery and while Ergo acts like a womaniser he can be quiet caring and opts to protect The Bearer from any harm; especially when things get tough. There is also the mysterious Red Lady character that knows about The Bearer and her past; all of which add to the mystery of what is coming next.
Another unique aspect of Anima is the fact that while the game is played from the perspective of The Bearer, which is of course the female character in a blue and white dress, players are able to freely switch between The Bearer and Ergo during combat; with each character having a different set of skills and fight styles but more importantly a different health bar. This unique gameplay aspect of having two different health bars makes the ‘ever-tricky’ boss fights slightly easier to handle; as you can freely switch between the characters if you see yourself getting into a pinch.
Speaking of gameplay then Anima: Gate of Memories is played from the perspective of a third-person action adventure title and, in some aspects at least, plays in a similar manner to the Devil May Cry franchise whereby pressing button combinations together can result in combos and destructive attacks being dealt to your opponent. Furthermore by using the alternate attack button both characters can attack from a far with energy blasts, which is of course an alternative to Dante’s pistols. Bizarrely enough however the player has two ‘energy’ gauge bars underneath their health bar; each of which tailored to a different attack. Physical attacks will use the red gauge while magical attacks will use the white gauge and once depleted you will not be able to perform any attacks. I assume it is a nod to Dark Soul’s stamina gauge; but whether or not it is a reference to any other franchise it does slow the game down and make you plan your next move rather than just mindlessly attack.
Gameplay wise Anima is a hack-and-slash title however the RPG element of the game come into effect by using experience points to unlock new abilities and skills. By collecting orbs –of-sorts scattered around the game-world, and those earned during fights, the players can upgrade the protagonists health, skill and magical abilities and just like in a traditional RPG game some abilities cannot be unlocked until others have been unlocked first. This is all done through a giant tree in the pause menu and at first it can seem overly complicated, especially with the rather uninformative tutorial segment and the multiple pages of information, but eventually after a few uses it does become second nature.
Interestingly enough Anima isn’t just about beating enemies, locating orbs and levelling up as littered throughout the game is a selection of puzzles each of which will require a bit of problem solving to get done. Personally I found some of the puzzles a bit too difficult; as at times there is no clear indication or direction on what to be doing, but unpon finding the answer you’ll realise that the puzzles are not half bad – just frustrating at the time they appear. Once again the puzzles do slow down the overall pace of the game and give it that much needed difference to other titles in a similar genre; such enough Devil May Cry has the odd puzzle but when compared to Anima they are extremely simplistic.
Storyline and gameplay aside one aspect of Anima: Gate of Memories I truly did find interesting was the varied amount of locations and game-worlds; as while some were bleak and rather bland they did offer that variety that most games tend to forget. Dark Souls III for instance is enriched with fabulous castles, caves, caverns and pathway and it is the same here in Anima; albeit just not as detailed. Unfortunately however the varied amount of game worlds also means that some lengthy loading times can be had as entering each new location will result in a loading screen – a shame but for an indie published title that looks like this then it is to be expected.
Anima: Gate of Memories will not be known for its impressive visual feats nor it’s exceedingly good voice acting, as neither are true; but what it will be known for is that no matter the budget and man-power a well thought out story with some impressively unique locations can be created; which makes a nice change compared to some of the big developers and publishers out on the market.
From the offset the Anima: Gate of Memories looks like a PS2 re-mastered on the cheap for the PS4; but in actuality it is a indie developed PS4 (and Xbox One & PC) game that has some great ideas created under restrictive conditions; to which we should commend the developers on, however while a hack-and-slash styled adventure awaits there is a large amount of dreary dialogue that quickly becomes boring, cut-scenes that do not add any emotion to the story thats being told and, at times, clunky controls with potentially over-complicated puzzles that just add to a rather shallow experience. It’s a good game; but it’s not without some flaws but it is one you should check out if you enjoyed Devil May Cry or similar games in the genre.
Anima: Gate of Memories is now available for the PS4, XB1 and PC as a digital download and as a physical release from selective retailers within the UK and Europe.