Anima: Gate of Memories PS4 Review
Anima: Gate of Memories is based off the insanely popular, and European, tabletop game of the same name. The series is so prominent that it has inspired a miniatures game, a series of card games, and currently an international competition where players are seated with ranks. It is important to note that this is almost entirely a European phenomenon, as it remains almost entirely unknown in the states despite a rather interesting and belovedly crafted Dark Souls being released on several systems. Sadly, that might have to do with some of the game’s uneven play mechanics.
The flow of battles is probably the main sticking point, as it lands somewhere between the older Devil May Cry games and instant and intense punishment that is Dark Souls. In concept, and in some of the less complex encounters, this works very well and can be enjoyable when the controlling framework is understood. The problem comes when some of the battles become more difficult and more complex, more so if there is a kind of environmental puzzle going on while demands to be solved. The pressure from several things at once almost seems like it causes the walls of the battle system to crash in on itself, and a bad time is quickly had.
Some of the issues come from the fact that the main character controls as two different people—one that has the power of light magic and one that has the power of dark, of course. In the early stages of the game this is a fun little mechanic as the two can be switched back and forth between when one is overly damaged for naturally heal, as healing items are at a premium, and when an enemy has an elemental aversion to one type of power in these sections it doesn’t mean it can’t be damaged by the other. Quickly, though, this all goes away as enemies are almost required to be between by one of the two characters, their styles mastered, and battles aren’t about having fun but instead an odd and convoluted training ground for the boss of the area.
Not everything is bad, though, as the plot of the game is one of the best that has been witnessed in recent memory. Dark and macabre, each level has sections of the back story scattered throughout, each that needs to be collected before it can be cleared and progress made. This content can be skipped, but the stories contained are simply stupefying. The only real issue that could even possibly be brought up with any of it is that the first section seems to have the best plot out of anything, and the rest of the game is just playing catch up after the insane puppet-master that spent his life making living puppets.
Anima is a fun game, and a great look into what kind of a weird world of table top RPGs that Europe has been living in for the last decade. It is flawed in a bunch of very fixable, and possible sequel worthy ways, but it is also something that is worth a gander for the player that just can’t help themselves while waiting for the next Dark Souls game, or anyone that is looking for something new. The game is unique enough to keep you interested, but sadly it becomes painfully difficult quickly enough that most people will probably be driven off.