Thursday, June 28

Review: Anima - Gate of Memories - Arcane Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


When you see games being compared to the likes of Dark Souls or something like Nier they tend to get your attention, but only if the comparisons are favorable. Aiming high and aspiring to create something that can attain those levels of success is admirable but while many have tried it’s hard to put together something in that same league. While it’s obviously trying to swing for the fences, unfortunately Anima: Gate of Memories just fails to inspire in almost any area, making for a frustrating experience.


In the Arcane Edition specifically you’ll have the opportunity to play through 2 different odd stories cut from the same general cloth: One as a young woman known as The Bearer of Calamities and another as a character called The Nameless. I can’t say either of their stories are terribly memorable, it is mostly just the odd details like The Bearer’s talking book that come to mind. That’s not to say that a rich world full of lore wasn’t attempted, just I struggled to find it interesting. A big part of the problem is that the characters’ motivations, as a whole, feel pretty one-dimensional and the often over-dramatic quality of the voice acting made it all a bit silly.


Moving on to the gameplay itself it’s best broken down into exploration and adventuring versus the combat. Starting with the exploration of the world while there can be flair in some of the environments there’s no getting away from how sparse and sterile they are as a whole. Aside from the enemies, some pick-ups, and perhaps some moving blocks that provide for some minor platforming there’s just nothing going on. This gives the world a very last-gen feel to me, even if the style of everything is pretty cool overall. The platorming I mentioned, for the most part is fortunately rare and mostly there to make you work a little harder for a given item pick-up for piece of lore. The camera can really be your enemy in these situations though, as for the most part it’s a struggle to get it into a decent position as you try to make accurate jumps.


Even with the game’s other failings, compelling and tight combat could have been a real saving grace. Unfortunately, not only is the camera generally your enemy in these sequences, but on the whole fighting tends to fly between being pretty generic and repetitive and just outright cheap. Going up against an array of different generic enemies can have its moments, as the various moves you have at your disposal allow for doing things like juggling and showing some personal flair. However, when you’re facing multiple enemies the combat can feel a bit clunky, even if you use the lock-on system. It’s workable but there doesn’t seem to be a flow to it like there can be in other titles in similar situations. Boss battles, though at least a bit more interesting, can be aggravating and inconsistent. It’s not so much that they’re generally overpowered as both their attacks and your means of winning are often so cheap and unsatisfying. Taking a boss down with superior strategy and execution is satisfying, but wearing them down slowly through repetition starts to feel hollow after a while.


Overall, though there’s a fair amount of content between both games and the production qualities are decent on the whole I found Anima: Gate of Memories to be aggravating in both of its forms in this edition. It’s possible I may not somehow be in their target audience but instead I choose to believe that despite whatever lofty goals they had for the title it just isn’t executed very well against its contemporaries. On multiple levels this feels like a game that could have found success one or two generations ago but as titles have broken through and proven what’s possible it now comes up lacking. If you’re interested in the property or are itching for some decent slashing action it has its moments but be warned it can be a bumpy ride.

Score: 5.5

Pros:

  • If you’re into lore there’s quite a bit to be found
  • There are moments where the combat can click with its varied moves and options


Cons:

  • As a whole the camera is troublesome and frustrating whether in combat or while trying to complete platforming sections
  • Boss battles are usually more monotonous or aggravating than engaging and exciting
  • The game world is generally barren and sterile, making it feel last-gen or earlier