Sunday 24 July 2016

Anima: Gate of Memories

Anima: Gate of Memories reminds me of old Japanese Action Role Playing Games from the PlayStation 2 era. In fact, playing through this game it reminded me of a game I fondly remember called Nier from last generation. It features many of its traits including open areas, similar art, decent music, and even a book as your companion. Unfortunately, the experience of Anima is something I won't recall upon all that fondly despite some enjoyable moments.

Developed by The Anima Project and out now for PlayStation 4, Anima: Gate of Memories is a game a few years in the making after its successful Kickstarter in 2012. I wouldn't normally mention that as every game deserves to stand on its own merit without its history included but a lot of what I have to say about the game in terms of its shortcomings stem from the studio's funding coming from Kickstarter. 

  There's no denying that Anima: Gate of Memories is ambitious and you can clearly see the vision set out by the developers but their $110,000 funding that was raised in 2012 was clearly not enough to meet their lofty ideas. Corners were cut in almost every aspect of the game - aspects that would help a great deal believing the world, characters, and even the gameplay itself. 
The gameplay is ambitious to say the least. It's fast and fluid for the most part as you switch between two different main styles that has unique attacks and abilities. However, the enemies are dull for the most part and even though every individual part of the gameplay feels decent, it never comes together to feel satisfying. 
Anima is based on a Japanese table-top role playing game and it's something I know nothing of. The story portrayed in Gate of Memories is so poorly written and delivered in places that prior knowledge would not save it from the cringey dialogue being spouted from the protagonist's partner Ergo. He's essentially a dick that has no respect for anyone and anytime the book talks, it usually ends in your character telling it to shut up. Oh yeah, by the way, it's a talking book.

The cel-shaded look isn't the worse I've seen but it's also underutilised and fails to give the game any semblance of life. It makes the open-world areas feel simply flat and dull whereas a more emphasised colour palette may have done wonders to make the game stand out. This would have been handy as some areas in the game will leave you chasing your own ass as you try to figure out just what the game is asking of you. Any idea on what you are required to do next can be completely lost as you try to piece things together while you aimlessly wander around. However, some credit must be given to when things are structured right and you can't help but feel that the game can actually be clever and well-thought out. 

From the world you explore, to some of the characters like the book and main characters, it all reminds me of Nier but not nearly as good. Its lofty goals fall short on every front meaning that while you can see its good intentions, the result is disappointing and frustrating on almost every level.

This is one gate to keep locked. 2/5.


Jason Redmond

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