Anima: Gate of Memories is a game set in the world of Anima: Beyond Fantasy world, which was originally a tabletop role-playing game, with what I know is to be an original story.
Anima follows a girl known as The Bearer of Calamities and a supernatural being known as Ergo bound together by a pact that neither of them wanted. Forced to stay together, they journey to find answers to questions they have and to eventually separate, but they end up stumbling across events that could lead to a war, and their actions would be important in preventing it. Anima focuses mostly on combat, exploration and the odd puzzle, but it has RPG elements that see you learn skills, equip weapons and accessories, etc, to help you in battle. The story intrigued me but the pacing was jarring where exploring with almost zero goal or hints got in the way of the story, and so any rich lore had to be fought for as the game was constantly treading on its own feet.
If you’ve played any hack and slash before then you’ll be familiar with what Anima has to offer. You can mash square to pummel you opposition or mix things up with a variety of skills. What is quite unique to Anima is being able to switch between two characters on the fly who both have different abilities and can be used together to string together combos and rack up even more damage. Battles can be rather difficult and intense and so you’ll want to gain new skills as soon as you can, especially as combat is such a huge part of the game. When not in combat, you’ll likely be wandering around open areas as you try to find out where to go next.
The best point of Anima is by far the visuals. The visuals are what appealed to me most about the game and they certainly didn’t let down in the final release. The art style and direction, colours and use of cel-shading all blend together to create a lush fantasy world which was a joy to see, and it reached out to my love for gothic fantasy and feels like it would be a great game for Halloween time. It all looks great in motion and the character design is great too, and there are unlockable outfits too! The camera can sometimes be a bit wonky and, having some platforming segments, it could sometimes be a bit of a risk on whether or not you’d land where you think you would land, but it’s far from gamebreaking.
Being a game that was funded via Kickstarter, I didn’t expect big names to be included in regards to voice-acting and whilst I was right, the talent they did get does more than fine. The likes of Skyler Davenport as The Bearer and John Joesph Archer II as Ergo give great performances, and nobody in the game felt like an amateur despite the fact many have had no much experience. The soundtrack does well in complimenting the world and adding to the atmosphere, although it doesn’t exactly stand side by side with it, and I’d have preferred some more variety as everything has a strictly sombre feel to it, and so the OST doesn’t stand out on its own.
Anima: Gate of Memories is far from a bad game but it’s ambition in being a massive game seems to be a little too much for the developer who ended up filling it with a lot of running around and backtracking, much of which feels like padding. The combat is solid with plenty of room for variety and the art style is nothing less than stunning, but it failed to click with me because although everything looks gorgeous, the exploring quickly became tedious – this isn’t helped by the sprint function feeling pretty sluggish. I know very little about the source material so it’s hard to say whether or not I’d recommend this to fans, but I do think it’s worth a go at its £15.99 asking price on PSN.