Anima: Gate of Memories (XB1) Review

Ken McKown

Split personality.

There are too many games launching on a regular basis. It is easy for titles to come and go without anyone knowing they even existed. When I first saw Anima: Gate of Memories, it was on a store page online. I had never heard of the game and the developer was unknown to me, but the screenshots and description intrigued me. So I reached out to the developer about covering the game. They were extremely humbled, and explained their small team size and passion for the project. Once I got my hands on the game though, I quickly realized that it wasn’t just blowing smoke; there is something really special to be found here.

Anima follows The Bearer, a girl without a name and a lost past. She is unwillingly joined by Ergo, in a pact that has the two fighting side by side to take down a series of monsters, without much reason behind it. There is a surprising amount of story and lore buried in this game. Tons of notes and flavor text, journals and history really make the world feel alive. As it progresses more and more things become clear, but I loved unraveling the mystery.

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MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99

The dialogue ranges from decent to almost comedic. While the story and world building are certainly interesting, the actors voicing the characters definitely feel generic. The writing also suffers from time to time, but even with these shortcomings, I was still heavily invested in the world of Anima.

This is an action RPG through and through. The combat reminds me more of an action game, but there are also abilities to upgrade. Players can swap between The Bearer and Ergo with the press of a button, and even mix up combos during the switch. Combat feels fluid, and outside of a few camera issues, performs extremely well. I had fun figuring out how to take down certain enemies by switching between characters. It is also worth noting that this is no button masher; hammering out button presses will do nothing outside of getting the player dead, and quickly.

The world feels like a classic Zelda-inspired journey. There is little to no hand holding in the game. I oftentimes had to explore, and read journal entries to solve puzzles. Early on the characters start gaining abilities allowing access other parts of the world. Everything is entirely open, meaning I could backtrack to anywhere in the game, which was often required. There is no fast travel system, which is probably my biggest complaint, as the world is massive, and can take quite a while to traverse back and forth.

Players will earn equipment and skill points as they progress. Each character has their own skill tree with a host of abilities. Like everything else in the game it isn’t explained as well as it should be, especially considering there are moves for various stances, such as being in the air. They also have to be equipped much like the equipment. This is a deep game on several levels, and a lot of it involves navigating through menus figuring out how things work.

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The lack of explanation is easily my biggest issue. When I was able to access new areas, the game rarely gave a visual cue to let me know that, resulting in me wandering around the environment more often than I would have liked, trying new doors. There are obscure puzzles that cropped up, with no explanation on how to solve them. Once I did figure them out though, it was extremely satisfying. Decoding what symbols on a door mean never felt so good.

Visually the game reminds me of a mix between Nier and El Shaddai, two of my favorite sleeper games of last generation. There is a soft beauty to the game with vertical areas and interesting architecture. I do wish the enemy designs were more interesting, but at least the bosses are – again, another impressive aspect of a game with such a small development team.

Anima: Gate of Memories is a solid action/RPG that would have easily slipped under my radar. It is longer than I expected, and continuously spices things up with new enemy types and puzzles throughout. I had a blast with this game, and it surprised me at almost every turn. I definitely recommend checking it out; the $20 price tag is more than worth the experience contained within.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Interesting world
  • Solid combat
  • Great exploration

Bad

  • Lack of explanation
  • No fast travel
8

Great

Ken McKown
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.
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