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Friday, 13 April 2018

Review: Masters of Anima


Review: Masters of Anmia

Always trust your Anima instincts.



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Masters of Anima
Passtech Games | Nintendo Switch | Digital Only
1 Player
Reviewed by: Curtis Chapman | 12th April 2018

* Review Code Provided by: Passtech Games / Bastion PR *







Control an army of your own creation to topple giant beasts and save the world from certain destruction in Passtech Games newest title, Masters of Anima. Out now on the Nintendo Switch eShop and priced at £15.99, Does this troop-management adventure do enough to be its own entity, or does it simply attempt to scratch that Pikmin itch?

Once upon a time, a giant volcano called Mount Spark raged out against the land. From the depths of the volcano spewed Anima, giving life to giant Golems and causing havoc across a peaceful world. Taking pity on the human plight, a goddess arrived and showed a chosen few the ways of Anima, allowing them to harness it to mold guardians from the land, giving them the support they needed in the battle against the Golems. With that, the Shapers were born; Mount Spark was bound with a Heartshield and peace returned to the land.

Our story begins many years into the future and finds our protagonist Otto, a young and slightly inept shaper-in-training taking his final test to prove to his fiancée Ana, the Master Shaper, that he is worthy of her love. After completing his test, disaster strikes and Golems appear suddenly reappear brought back around by a rogue Shaper named Zahr, hell-bent on returning Mount Spark to its glory. After a fierce battle, Zahr renders Otto’s fiancé into several soul shards, shattering them across the land before disappearing. Recovering these shards becomes Otto’s main goal, with saving the world from Zahr and battling his army of Golems something to do if he finds the time afterward.



Masters of Anima Screenshot 1


From the game’s opening introduction and tutorial, the driving narrative behind Master of Anima initially feels like an original one, and while the general premise is unique it’s sad to say that once the game gets started and the story begins to unfold, underneath the surface is a tale that is all too familiar. Filled with the classic tropes you’ve come to expected in any “save the damsel, save the world” storylines (coincidently usually all voiced with the same sounding plain British voice actors), it may feel all too predictable to anyone with an active interest in the genre.

Gameplay revolves around the concept of summoning guardians by using collected Anima, found simply laying around on the floor or hidden within objects that need to be broken open. Once summoned, these guardians are then used either to solve a series of pushing/lifting puzzles or to engage in battles against the Golems. With five types of guardians to summon, each with their own distinct skills, strengths and weaknesses, battles become an enjoyable tactical game of troop placement and enemy distraction.

The battles themselves are spaced out nicely on each level and usually take place after exploration or puzzle set pieces. Opting for fewer enemies with large pools of health and heavy hitting attacks, each battle feels more like a boss fight than simply a normal encounter. Combat usually takes an extended period of time with focus required throughout, or else risk having to replay the entire battle when you are quickly defeated, though on the plus side the game saves you progress before each battle so there is the opportunity to repeat a fight quickly and learn from your mistakes. Each Golem also has a gradually decreasing rage counter that, when depleted, will cause it to unleash devastating attacks that you find it hard to recover from. The implementation is enjoyable, although it would have been nice to have some shorter battles with easier to kill enemies peppered in between these larger battles to keep things interesting.



Masters of Anima Screenshot 2


Otto gains experience point through battling and solving puzzles. Earning enough experience point will level Otto up, allowing him to upgrade skills for himself or his different Guardian types. This works well, allowing you to tailor your army, their strengths, and weaknesses, toward your own play style.

The use of a constant low-poly art style throughout the entire game is very effective, with the flat colors and minimalistic styling proving very effective when portraying the almost marionette features and movements of the spawned guardians. With a fully voiced acted story and hand painted cut-scene visuals, a lot of effort has gone into the polish of this title.

Unfortunately, Passtech Games has decided not to play to the strengths of the Switch’s Handheld Mode, omitting the ability to use the consoles touch screen for selecting of positioning troops, instead opting only to support input from either the joy-con or a pro controller. The controls themselves are intuitive but with so many actions it may take some time remembering which button moves, dismisses your troops may take some getting used to.



Masters of Anima Screenshot 3


For a title sharing similarities to one of Nintendo’s longstanding franchises, Masters of Anima does enough to differentiate itself, while still containing enough similar gameplay elements to be of interest to fans of similar titles. Unfortunately, the game’s all too predictable story and decision to focus on a select amount of drawn-out battles mars what could have been an essential purchase a game that currently stands alone in its genre on the Nintendo Switch. That is not to say that the game isn’t enjoyable however and is definitely recommended if you enjoy troop-management/RTS titles.


FOR THE WIN OR FOR THE BIN?



+ Interesting core game mechanics.
+ Lengthy main story.
+ Gorgeous & well animated characters scenery.
+ Full voice acting.

- Predictable storyline.
- Battles are too drawn out.
- No touch screen support.

Verdict: Very Good Job – Recommended Buy



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