Passtech Studio’s third release, Masters of Anima, is an impressive and immersive experience. The graphic style is charming and colourful, the gameplay is relatively fluid and the voice acting is fine. But at least they put in voice acting! The story isn’t half bad either, although relatively simple in nature, it doesn’t fill out with unnecessary plot or pointless endeavours.
You play as Otto, a young man that lives in the magical world of Spark, a land where Guardians and Golems settle quarrels in battle and settled a large war over 600 years before. Today, apprentices learn to summon these Golems and Guardians using Anima, life energy in the form of orbs, as a rite of passage for coming of age. Our hero is a little older than most graduates, but is now serious about passing his exams, thanks to Ana, the strongest Master of Anima who also wants to marry him for some reason..
Conveniently, right as Otto passes his trial, the mountain they trained on starts to erupt. The evil Zahn kidnaps Ana and now for reason it’s up to Otto to go and rescue her! Using your Guardians, you must travel the land of Spark in order to rescue your totally out of your league bride to be.
As I said before, the graphics are simple but endearing. I’m a big sucker for the soft looking, colourful graphics style such as The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and this gave me a similar nostalgic feeling. The voice acting is a little off, but welcomed nonetheless. It felt like the Northern accents were lifted right out of Game of Thrones but it fit in nicely with the games aesthetic. That being said, the story and the script is pretty badly written. The story is basic, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, it just isn’t anything original. But the script was bad. Instead of telling me the story and the details flat out like they are on a fact sheet, it would have been better if they had let the story tell itself. Lines such as “you are my betrothed, and the Master of Anima” just doesn’t feel like an organic conversation. It could be that Passtech studio were just trying to get you into the meat of the story, but it didn’t feel quite right.
The gameplay is a mixed bag, and I could see a lot of people enjoying it! Running around in the overworld feels delightful, and entertaining, with collectables and mini side quests dotted around to keep your interest up. Combat is well made and intuitive, but it did get boring after a while. In a similar fashion to Age of Empires, Otto conjures Guardians and pits them against bigger enemies. The only problem with that is that you can summon up to 100 at a time, so at times it feels less of a strategic battle and more of a slow crawl while you watch an enemy with high hit points slowly get defeated by a bunch of small, insignificant shiny rock monsters. That being said, when you fight against leagues of enemies, it gets very exciting as you have to dictate where to send hordes of Guardians, to ensure that Otto takes no damage and you don’t lose too many of your precious troops.
The gameplay is addictive, fast-paced at times and fairly exciting, and for a company whose previous releases only include Space Run, it is a triumph in many ways. It’s suitable for kids, and simple enough to keep them interested too. If you can get past some of the dodgy storytelling and voice acting, I’m sure that you’ll have a thoroughly enjoyable experience playing this game. To any player with a passion for real time strategy, charming and colourful gameplay, and an easy to digest story, this one’s for you.