Masters-of-Anima-Review Masters of Anima Review

   10/04/2018 at 16:11       Chris OToole       0 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Strategy, Action

 

Review by Ashley Fiddes

 

Masters of Anima takes place in Spark, a world where creations called Golems are summoned by shapers using Anima. You follow the story of Otto, a young Shaper who feels that the Golems are being misused and as such reluctant to join the Shapers ranks. Unfortunately for Otto, due to his engagement to the Shaper Supreme he is forced into taking the Shaper exam to become a Master.  During the exam (in which Otto excels) the ground erupts and aggressive Golems appear under the orders of the nefarious Zahr to attack Otto and his teacher. Upon escaping the exam area, you find that your Fiancée has been transformed into crystals with which Zahr will summon even stronger Golems into being. You are then tasked with finding the pieces of your Fiancée and saving the world. Same old, same old.

To assist you on your journey you can eventually summon up to one hundred Golems across five different classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Summoning your troops is quick and simple and the ability to return them and summon another type is a God send, allowing you to adjust the composition of your team depending on the situation. All you need to summon any set of Golems you wish is Anima orbs and to have hit the maximum number available. This maximum is a total amount making it possible to summon an entire army of one type of unit if you so wished.

However you will want a good selection of Golems with you at all times as they each have unique abilities that can be used to interact with the environment to beat simple puzzles. These puzzles can be used to open up new areas and reveal secrets (health, orb upgrades or stone slabs).

When you are following the mission path you will on occasion reach a battle arena, in here you will face off against enemy Golems with the aid of your own Golem troops. It is during these battles that the game can be quite difficult (and in the early areas it can feel a bit of a slog).  The enemy Golems have a wide range of attacks and you can find yourself constantly managing the position of your Golems, pulling the sword units out of the way of a deadly 360 spin or sending the archer to the left as they charge forward. Selecting and controlling the units is easy to manage and the charge up time was long enough so I was able to, mostly, avoid the worst of the attacks.  However, there were some enemies that I felt used these charged attacks far too often. This led to Golems reaching an enemy only to be pulling them back straight away to me to avoid an attack. This to-ing and fro-ing would be fine but each enemy has a enrage timer that if it reaches zero results in random lightning strikes hitting the ground making the fight even harder.

The real difficulty though is when there are two enemies in a field, firstly it is difficult to keep track of both units so you run the risk of getting hit by a stray charge attack, which decimates your units.  This makes the fight more difficult, and because both units enrage counter ticks down simultaneously you must rush through the first fight, often losing more units than you would like, to try and destroy the second before the lightning begins. To help you through this any Golem defeated, friend or foe, drops orbs that can be used to recharge your summon meter which allows you to continue summoning throughout the fight. 

Once battles are finished you are graded based on Golems lost, Otto’s health depleted, and time taken. These scores are then used to give you an overall score which gives a boost to the XP you gained throughout the level. Unlike other games levelling up does not give you a bonus straight away but requires you to finish the area to reap the benefit. These benefits come in the form of skill points that you can use to upgrade Otto or the Golems’ abilities.

With a difficult and punishing combat system, a protagonist that flips between brattish to endearing and a whimsical story without a lot of depth this shouldn’t be as enjoyable as I found it to be. About half way through the game I found myself thinking of battles differently, I had a bigger selection of Golems and had been able to spec them to suit my play style. I had got to grips with unit placements and my end of level scores steadily started to improve. By the end of the game, I was eager to go back and replay the earlier levels (something that is easily accessible) to pick up the missing items and see if I could get better results. So if you are in the mood for an addictive Pikmin-lite with a challenging battle system you could do a lot worse than Masters of Anima.

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Better late than never, eh Ror?
 
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