Let me start out by saying I love adventure games. Mulakawas and is one of my all time favorites for Nintendo Switch. So when I saw Masters of Anima was in the line up for Nintendo Switch I knew it was a game I wanted to review. Fortunately I was given that opportunity and developer Passtech Games and publisher Focus Home Interactive did not disappoint.
What is Masters of Anima
As stated, Masters of Anima is an adventure game in which you take control of main character Otto. Otto starts of as an apprentice of Anima and stands trials to earn the title of master.
In Masters of Anima, your main weapon is your Guardians. Guardians can be summoned and controlled by ‘Shapers’ to do their bidding. The power source of shapers come from a mysterious essence called Anima. Anima can be found all over the world of Spark, which is the setting for the game.
As legend has it, Anima was used in ancient times to build the world in it’s current form. It is so powerful that is can be used to manipulate the environment, call upon an army of Guardians, or in some cases spawn a Golem. Back when the ancient shapers and builders formed the world, they had to defeat Golems to ensure Amina be used for a better purpose. To do this they crafted the Heart Shield located in the center of Mount Spark and also constructed many ‘wonders’ that can be found throughout the world to help channel the source of Anima for future shapers.
In Otto’s time, the Shapers are the only ones who remain that can summon Guardians to defend Spark against Golems should they return.
We find out early in the game that our hero, Otto, is reluctant to stand trials to become a Master Shaper. To this point Otto has been an apprentice and his fiancee Ana has been pushing him to earn the rank of Master. Ana, as it turns out, is the Supreme Shaper and has incredible powers to manipulate the powers of Anima. We find out that in order for Otto to be considered ‘qualified’ to marry Ana, he must earn the rank of Master.
While Otto is standing trials and learning to summon and control his first Guardians a terrible explosion occurs leaving him to find his way back home with the help of his Guardians. When he arrives back home he find the evil Zahr attacking Ana. Zahr, is also a shaper, however he has learned the dark arts behind Anima’s power and performs a sundering on Ana which splits her body and soul into three parts.
It is now up to Otto to track down Zahr, fight off his evil golems, and save Ana before it is too late. Throughout Ottos travels he learns to control new Guardians with distinct powers and can even control up to 100 Guardians at a time.
Otto roams the world in pursuit of Zahr in his desperate quest to save Ana. In order to do so he must learn to control the power of Anima and learn to control new Guardians. There are a total of five different Guardian types all with different traits and abilities.
In order to learn how to summon different Guardian types, Otto will stumble across wonders in the world which each hold the key or blueprint behind manipulating Anima to summon new Guardians. Otto will need to solve puzzles in order to activate the wonders so that he can clearly read and understand the spells.
Puzzles can be solved by using the unique skills of your Guardians. Protectors can be used to move heavy objects outside of combat and in combat they are used as are your front-line defensive units. Sentinels are great at hitting targets out of reach from your Protectors and in combat they are powerful offensive archers. These are the first two Guardians you will learn to control.
Three additional Guardian types can be mastered both in and out of combat. Without giving too much away, the other Guardians can be used in combat to produce and provide Otto with Anima or even act as an extension of Otto by echoing Otto’s battlecry. Outside of combat they can help to lift heavy objects or even provide Otto with an aura to help him reach places he otherwise could not.
To succeed at Masters of Anima, you must learn to control all five types of Guardians in and out of battle. To excel, you must learn to do so while minimizing Guardian losses and keeping Otto out of harms way. You must also learn to be efficient in battle and make quick work of enemy Golems.
To do this, you will leverage a skill tree that is shared by Otto and all of his Guardians. As Otto levels up, new skills points will become available to spend where you please. These points can be refunded and reallocated at any time, without any penalty. This means you should manipulate and change skills as needed to get by particularly difficult fights or even re-do fights to earn a higher score.
Outside of the main quest, side quests will pop up with specific feats required to earn bonus experience. These come in the form of exploration or combat. If the quest is exploration based it will likely have you find and activate all the wonders in the level with Anima or potentially find buried or hidden items with the help of your guardians. If the quest is combat based, it generally will call for efficiency in battle where you can only allow a certain number of Guardians to fall.
Control of the Guardians starts out easy and becomes more chaotic the more types you can control.
Performance and Review
Game performance on the Switch is excellent for both handheld and docked play styles. I did find myself defaulting to docked mode to get by particularly difficult battles, but that is just likely due to my affinity for the Pro Controller. The controls start as easy to master, but then get more complicated as you control larger groups and more types of Guardians. You can only have one type or grouping of Guardians selected at once and you can move your selection both in and out of battle with ‘L’ and ‘R.’
In battle, you can enhance your Guardins using Otto’s battlecry with ‘ZL’ and ‘Y’ which will boost Guardians near Otto or Commander Guardians. Otto can also perform a chain of melee attacks using the ‘Y’ button when there is down time.
Guardian control is where battles can get tricky and this is where Passtech Games and Focus Home Interactive did a wonderful job with the port to console. The combination of ‘ZR’ and the ‘A’ button will summon the Guardian type selected at the cost of one Anima orb. The selected Guardian type can then be moved to a specific location by holding down the ‘X’ button and then pressing ‘A’ to send Guardians to a specific location without moving Otto. This is especially beneficial for placing your Sentinels in cover, such as bushes, since they are a large source of your damage done, but have the least amount of health. If you want your Guardians to auto-attack without giving them specific placement, then you can lock on your target with ‘ZL’ and then press or hold the ‘A’ button. A single or successive pressing of the ‘A’ button will send Guardians in one at a time, but if you hold the ‘A’ button then all Guardian of that type will auto-attack the enemy Golem.
To recall your Guardians you can press and hold ‘B’ and they will flee back to Otto’s location or you can select the Guardian type and hold ‘X’ to send them to a specific location.
The games performance is heavily dictated by the efficiency of the controls. The way the game was ported to the Switch helps to give the player an authentic ‘PC’ playing experience with excellent controller design. If the controls felt in any way clunky or hard to use, the entire game would be ruined no matter how fun the actual playing experience could be.
Masters of Anima is a very busy game and any given battle requires a lot of strategy specifically as it relates to how your Guardians are deployed. Controlling up to 100 Guardians and Otto is no small task, however the sleek console port makes it an enjoyable experience so that the player can enjoy the rest of what the game as to offer.
Based on how well the game performs on the Switch in addition to the rich story, use of Guardians in and out of battle, and the puzzles and side quests found in every level, Redonkulous Gaming gives Masters of Anima a score of 9.1/10.
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