The Reading Ergo
If you don’t understand my byline, count your blessings. Before I get sidetracked with punderfully dry puns, take a moment to consider IndieGoGo and/or Kickstarter funded video games. Some of them shine, some of them fail, and some of them simply are. Anima: Gate of Memories is a prime example of all three for various reasons, but it’s a title that I’m glad I had a chance to play.
Anima: Gate of Memories is a tale about the Bearer of Calamities, a young, blond woman with some pretty nifty skill sets and her book companion, Ergo (get it, yet?). Together, the two are on a mission to find a lost item – but that’s simply just the beginning. Near the end of the prologue, the Bearer and Ergo come into contact with a shadowy man (who, coincidentally, appears to kill the woman I thought would be the main villain). After a fairly interesting boss battle, you wake up inside an enormous temple of sorts. And that’s where the story really begins. You learn about the Bearer’s loss of memory, the numerous Bearers before her, and Ergo’s past relationship with many of them. It’s difficult to decipher whether Ergo is a hero or villain, but he certainly is crude and brimming with rape-y vibes.
And this is unfortunate, because Ergo could have been an interesting co-character to the dull Bearer – a character who relies on the cliché tropes of a thousand amnesiacs before her. Ergo, meanwhile, embodies the very sexism that real men shudder to be related with. He creeps on the Bearer while she sleeps, consistently calls her ‘babe’, and talk about the things he’d do to her… if only he were free. What’s worse is that Ergo’s original partner seems to encourage his behavior (you meet her ephemeral figure after awakening) by confirming he has a beautiful companion.
Forging past character issues, Anima: Gate of Memories consists of a standard action combat system. The player can switch between the Bearer and an embodied form of Ergo to execute combos or dispatch foes with certain weaknesses (Ergo can’t hurt light foes, and the Bearer can’t hurt dark foes). Combos are built with your X and Y buttons, while A jumps and B dodges. The skill menu finds itself rather filled with options for the player to choose, and each skill can be mapped to the controller (it needs to be, in fact). The combat itself works well, but the camera hinders the overall experience. Regardless of whether you lock on to a target or free roam the camera, the game chooses some wonky angles, and if you edge too close to wall during combat, the camera jerks around and leaves you blind. On top of this, character detection is off, too. The Bearer will find herself running against an invisible wall when she’s ten feet away from the actual wall. Hitting an enemy is an arbitrary thing, as the hit detection may be off by a few feet. For the most part, it isn’t hindering, but it’s noticeable; the game deserves more of a polish than that.
Still, the world is massive, and the lore ingrained within is enough to make any lore nerd drool. For those not in the know, Anima is a tabletop game, and Gate of Memories is an adaption of the Anima story. I don’t know much about the tabletop game, but I do know that the video game is full of exposition of lore. Another strong facet of Anima: Gate of Memories is its wonderful soundtrack. The game reminded me much of Nier, and, while its soundtrack isn’t as wonderful as that, it boasts a sound direction that enhances the world.
Much like the aforementioned Nier, Anima: Gate of Memories is an enjoyable game if you can get past its numerous flaws. Unlike Nier, Anima: Gate of Memories isn’t filled with much outside of lore (and for its part, it does an incredible job there). Nier’s clunky combat and repetitive gameplay is more forgivable because it works consistently; Anima: Gate of Memories is plagued with hit detection issues and the like. I want to like Anima: Gate of Memories – and, to some extent, I do – but the character flaws and clichés, the shaky combat system, and the absolutely droll and horrific dialogue (YouTube the Reading Ergo) pull down a title that, with a little more polish or a more experienced development team, could have succeeded on multiple levels.