Xbox One, PS4, PC
June 3, 2016
Anima: Gate of Memories is an absolute gem of a game and I was stoked at getting the opportunity to review it. A dark fantasy RPG that combines platforming, puzzle solving and plenty of might and magic orientated gameplay, it sucked me in right from the word go.
You play as the Bearer of Calamities, wielder of the powers of Ergo Mundus, an entity sealed within the book you carry after a pact was forged in your youth. Left nameless as a result of that pact, you are initially tasked with bringing a fellow member of the Order of Nathaniel to justice, but just as you are about to seize victory, you are transported to a mysterious tower called Arcane. Arcane provides the backdrop for the multifaceted storyline of Anima: Gate of Memories. You learn that Messengers, entities of great power, have been summoned to the tower, which can only bode ill. Thus, both the Bearer and Ergo are plunged into a plot of intrigue and deception.
The world of Arcane is stunning. The Anima Project surprised, delighted, amazed and terrified me with their creations, from gorgeous plains set against striking mountains to ominous sewers guarded by masses of darkness. The lighting is almost ethereal at times and really sets the mood in conjunction with the great music. The music was so immersive that I’ve gone so far as to buy the soundtrack, which is a very rare occurrence for me.
The characters are well thought out, and although the dialogue can be a bit cheesy at times, it made me laugh rather than cringe which is a skill in and of itself. The storyline is very dark, especially if you are able to unlock the additional endings, but there is a seed of hope in the protagonists’ plight that grows as you progress through the game. It is well worth speaking to NPCs multiple times in order to get the full breadth of info they possess. The exchanges between the Bearer and Ergo when you rest/ save are of particular value.
The Bearer and Ergo are both playable characters and are interchangeable at all times with the push of a button. Each has their own unique skill tree that contains both physical and magical elements to it. One really cool feature of the skill trees is that when you unlock new skills both characters’ stats improve, which gives things a hugely integrated feel. The skill themselves have some crossover, but there are also some unique skills. I loved being able to summon an array of light missiles as the Bearer or unleash Ergo’s ultimate barrage of claws. There is a level cap of 20, so you really have to be selective when it comes to upgrading skills, but this simply added to the challenge for me. There is also a continue+ option that really helps to max out your level and retry anything you had difficulty with the first time with a full arsenal of skills and kick ass equipment.
The combat is straightforward, very easy to pick up and fairly open to experimentation, however, you will fast learn that dodging is an art in this game and essential for the boss fights where the onslaughts can be incredibly brutal. Possibly the only thing I didn’t like about the game is that in order to run, you have to hold down the dodge button, and you can’t run without performing a dodge, which caused me a bit of grief when it came to the platform elements of the game. You are able to map different commands to buttons depending on whether you are neutral, performing a combo or aerial, leading to heaps of customisation on that front.
- Very easy to pick up and play
- Great storyline
- Bad mapping of run controls
- Some spelling/ grammatical errors in loading screens
I can’t really say much more with giving too much away, so suffice to say that if you are looking for a 15+ hour RPG to invest in, this is it. Anima: Gate of Memories is an example of how smaller developers (Anima Project is a team of just 3 people) can achieve as good, if not better results than some AAA titles, and it definitely deserved greenlight backing. This is a difficult game, and you will die a lot, but the challenge of the game is enough to make you redo those tricky bits over and over until you get it right. I will continue to hack away at some of the end game bosses until I defeat them, and I recommend this game very highly to anyone.