Mato Anomalies, now out for all major platforms, was developed by Arrowiz and is being published by Prime Matter. The end result is an interesting crossover product with different styles and mechanics, and we checked it out on a PlayStation 5.
The game is set inside a neo-futuristic city that feels not too unlike the worlds of Dark City or Blade Runner at times. It’s a place that’s relatively isolated from the rest of the world in which you play as two protagonists called Doe and Gram – with Doe being a detective and Gram a sort of samurai warrior who’s in touch with the spirit side. It makes for an interesting mix, where Doe feels like the down to earth noir-like detective chasing leads and engaging with NPC characters as you explore Mato’s streets, while Gram is your connection to a more supernatural element of the story.
The writing can be a bit inconsistent though, with deep dives into philosophical themes one moment and then a conversation with a generic NPC a minute later. In many cases, the city itself is a more interesting ‘character’ to explore than the faceless characters you meet within it, which feels like unrealized potential. Likewise, the novelty of the city itself wears off after a while, as the game regularly reuses the same locations even though you feel there should be a lot more to explore within such an interesting backdrop.
With Gram, you’ll spend quite a bit of time inside lairs, which is where the bulk of the game’s turn-based combat takes place. The combat system isn’t as deep or involved here as it is elsewhere though, so you might find yourself regularly skipping combat sequences with a handy auto-resolve feature. Go hands on, and you’ll find that health is shared among the members of your party, which simplifies having to manage individual health bars quite a bit. Combat is visually engaging thanks to some good animations too, so it’s worth engaging with it and not auto-resolving everything just for that reason.
Speaking of which – the visual style in the combat is matched elsewhere, with a relatively unique blend of visual novel, comic book and JRPG influences seen against a sci-fi backdrop throughout the game. It’s a shame that some of the visuals tend to repeat themselves too often, because we would have liked to see the developers push the uniqueness of Mato Anomalies more in that sense – the lairs in particular start blending together after a while.
Another part where Mato Anomalies mixes and matches with styles is in a card battling sequence that Doe engages in when questioning suspects and witnesses – an element that feels kind of random and like a distraction to those who don’t have a particular fondness for this type of gameplay even though it’s fairly well implemented.
While Mato Anomalies managed to intrigue and entertain at moments, it’s also an example of a game that’s less than the sum of its parts. From the writing to the turn-based combat and the repetitive nature of an otherwise engaging game world, there are better options out there – though the world of Mato Anomalies is one we’d gladly explore in more detail.