Anima: Gate of Memories review (Xbox One)

Anima: Gate of Memories is a lovingly crafted action RPG experience that is a bit too rough around the edges to be enjoyed by everyone. Here’s our review.

When we first heard about Anima: Gate of Memories we thought it was a brand new original videogame, but it turned out that it was based on a tabletop RPG originally from Spain. Following a kickstarter campaign, a small group of fans and developers have taken this game and turned it into the videogame experience that is Gate of Memories.

While most tabletop to videogame conversions go with a turn-based strategy approach, Anima is an action-heavy RPG with a big of platforming thrown in. There’s a lot of combat, and while it wears a little thin near the end of the campaign it’s mostly fun to play. This is in large part due to the fact that you can switch between your characters (“The Bearer” and “Ergo”) on the fly and thus use different skills and strategies.

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This translates well to the choices you make in how to develop your characters – complementing each other is important in your quest, especially in boss battles. The story is interesting even though it’s a fairly standard fantasy plot, but it’s very well developed for an indie title from a very small developer. Without giving away any spoilers, the game takes you through a wide range of locations with some impressive art design to shape the world around you. This is done using a cell-shaded approach to the graphics, which is a surprising choice but one that works well and gives the game somewhat of a unique look in its genre.

Where the game loses some of its momentum is in some of the details. In terms of presentation, the voice acting and camera work are well below what we’ve seen in other RPG titles for this console generation. The game also throws in a bit of platforming, but none of these sections are fun to play because the controls don’t feel fluid enough for them. And then there’s the relative lack of direction – it’s a game that relies heavily on exploration, but at times you’ll feel unclear as to what to do. With a little more polish, a lot of these issues could have been fixed.

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While some of the lines in conversations are far from stellar (this could be a translation issue), the story itself is well crafted and makes it worth the effort it takes to get through Anima’s large game world – even though you’re not able to fast-travel. It’s a labor of love that would have benefitted from a bit more time in the oven, but if you enjoy action RPGs then it’s good to know that Anima: Gate of Memories has been given a budget price point.

Score: 6.8/10

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