Taking control of a set of minions and then ordering them to do certain tasks can never get old, especially if done well. This is evident with Nintendo’s own Pikmin series which is the best in this genre. Masters of Anima is an indie game that takes inspiration from this style of gameplay and then tries to mix and mash different genres into something a little different. It partly succeeds with its goal but this also comes at the expense of some design flaws.
The game takes place in the magical world of Spark. In this world, people are threatened by Golems who are on the verge of defeating humans and considered a danger for centuries. To solve this issue, humans assemble together a skilled set of people called the Shapers. They have the ability to summon a magical set of beings using a powerful set of magic called Anima. Otto is the main character who the player will assume control through the game, and he is introduced as an Apprentice shaper which means he has a lot to learn. Otto is engaged to a Supreme Shaper called Ana whose essence is stolen by the main antagonist, Zahr. This makes Otto embark on a journey to save his fiancé from the clutches of evil.
Masters of Anima is also an action game with an isometric view presented on the screen. You can summon your guardians by collecting magical orbs that give you anima to either attack a target or use them for solving puzzles. The guardians can be summoned through a variety of different ways although when it comes to ordering them, they have a limited set of moves. The combat system is fairly simple for your own character but the dynamics of the battle work properly when you use it in conjunction with the guardians
The game offers plenty of puzzles and battles where getting the help of guardians is essential. You will start with a basic set of Guardians and can summon different types as you acquire them. Depending on their skills and abilities, each Guardian can prove to be useful in solving puzzles or quickly defeating a specific enemy. The anima that is required for summoning guardians can be obtained by breaking objects, killing enemies and even farmed from certain enemies by using guardians. The strategy element really comes into play when you get the different types of guardians. Learning their strength and weakness in combat will become essential since the game can prove to be a little difficult if you don’t utilize them effectively.
As you control your guardians, you will be presented with a choice of giving them orders. You can send them to attack, execute special moves or use them to solve puzzles by having them move objects. It is a system that works fine except when in battle. I don’t think the battle system is really all that great especially the enemy design can get repetitive easily so it starts to feel like a grind. The game has plenty of appeal for what it tries to achieve here but the repetitive nature of the battles doesn’t help here. Once a guardian is hit or takes a set amount of damage, they will be killed and you can immediately replace them using anima.
The problem with this system is that it is easy to run out of anima to summon these guardians. As they die, you will be required to summon new guardians and run out of your anima rather quickly in tough battles. It is not just a matter of getting good at the game and using the guardians strategically, it also ties to the way you can get anima and sadly it is possible to end up in situations where there is no way to farm them.
The progression system here relies on skill trees. This sounds fine at first until you realize that there is no way to actually deal with them when you are playing a particular level. You can access the skill tree in between levels so if you want to make certain changes, you will have to start the level again.
It won’t take you long to tackle the main story quests and there are a few sidequests sprinkled in between the main story, but they are simple in design and can amount to doing a task to fulfill X criteria. There was potential to be had here if the developers wanted the players to feel like they should explore more of the level, but the lack of a world map makes it harder to mess around.
Masters of Anima Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Masters of Anima is an original adventure game that takes you deep into the magical world of Spark. Battle against the forces of evil in strategic, action-packed battles, where making tactical decisions quickly is vital. Summon and control large armies of up to 100 Guardians, thanks to intuitive and innovative gameplay.
Masters of Anima offers a decent mix of strategy and action. Those who enjoy a good balance of puzzles and combat won’t be disappointed here. It is not exactly the most original game but the core mechanics are solid enough for it to be an enjoyable experience.