STAFF REVIEW of Anima: Gate of Memories - The Nameless Chronicles (Xbox One)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Anima: Gate of Memories - The Nameless Chronicles Box art I reviewed the previous Anima: Gate of Memories game back when it was released, and was impressed for what it did given the small development team. Sure it had its flaws, as the voice acting wasn’t great and I was constantly lost, but it had an interesting artistic style and a half decent story if you were able to follow along. When I found out there was a sequel coming, I was intrigued, as I had a decent outing the last time I was in the Anima world, hoping they would address some of the issues I had and looking forward to some more lore of its interesting world and characters.

This sequel, The Nameless Chronicles, actually takes place alongside the original game, except instead of playing as The Bearer and Ergo once again, you’re actually in control of Nameless, someone you’ll remember quite well if you’ve played the original. While Nameless was portrayed as the antagonist in the original game, seeing his story from his point of view gives you a very different perspective and reasoning to his actions.

Eons ago, Nameless, along with others, sealed away a demon that could destroy the world, Baal, and has uncovered a plot about a group planning on releasing him from his prison. Given that this takes place parallel to Gate of Memories, you’re going to run into some familiar faces, like The Bearer and Ergo, and if you’ve played the first, you’ll get to relive some of the battles they had, but from Nameless’ perspective this time. That being said, expect the same outcomes from their run in’s the first time, though there’s much more to Nameless’ tale than these few encounters.

Much like Gates of Memories, the narrative in The Nameless Chronicles is interesting and quite involved, but you really need to give your full attention to it or you risk being confused and lost as to who, what and why. The overall narrative has the same framework as before, but the deeper and more intimate tale of Nameless’ immortality, along with being helped by a mysterious spirit known as Unknown (yeah, they aren’t the greatest at naming characters), made for an interesting saga the more that was uncovered. That being said, I still found The Bearer and Ergo a much more compelling tale, probably because of the personality clashes between the two characters.

Because The Nameless Chronicles takes place alongside the first game, you’ll eventually have a sense of déjà-vu if you’ve played the the previous title, as you’ll start to notice reused assets. The worst part of the original, the puppet mansion, returns for another go as well, and while it makes sense from a narrative point of view, it hasn’t gotten any better. Your main hub is now The Nexus of Memories, a small area where you’ll routinely travel back to when you complete a main section, or become lost and don’t know where to go.

This was my biggest gripe with the first game as well, that you have no guide or marker to direct you where to go next. Sometimes you’re in an area that’s very linear, but other times you’ll be wandering aimlessly from area to area, trying to figure out where to go. Again, like the first game, this had me frustrated at times, as there’s no real quest journal or clear indication of where you should be heading next.

While combat will make for the bulk of the experience, there are a few puzzle elements that take place as well. Some were done quite well, others were much more subtle, but I enjoyed the odd break from the mind-numbing combat now and then, I just wish there were more of these segments. In combat you have access to a lock-on targeting system, but it’s fairly wonky, and at times, more of a hindrance than a help, especially with enemies that constantly move and teleport, whipping your camera all around.

In general, combat is nearly identical to the first game, without the character swapping of course. Nameless prefers to get up close and personal with his sword, though you do have access to a ranged shot as well, something you’ll need to heavily rely on in certain battles. You have light and heavy attacks, an uppercut where you can start an air juggle, and more, but I found it near impossible to string together more than a few simple hits before being interrupted.

Much of the combat strategy is also utilizing your meter that also allows you to become much more powerful for attacks, but slowing you down in the process. This energy regenerates slowly, and some enemies’ defenses won’t break without these more powerful hits. You’ll also find new weapons along your journey, offering better stats and damage for different play styles, but even by the end, I felt no more powerful than I did in the beginning for the most part.

You will also need to heavily rely on dodging, again, represented by another stamina bar you’ll need to manage during fights. You can specialize in either close range melee or long range attacks, but there’s no real fusion between the two. Sure it’ll look cool as you dash in, hit once or twice, dash back and shoot from afar, but there’s no system in place to encourage this. Keep in mind, if you’re using the lock-on system, you’ll constantly get spun around from warping enemies, opening yourself up to attacks when fighting a group at once.

Maybe it’s just been awhile since I played the first, but I found the combat in The Nameless Chronicles to be much more challenging than the previous game. You’re kind of eased into the mechanics, but even the tutorial is a miniboss fight to show you the ropes. Even generic enemies can easily overwhelm you in numbers if you’re not careful (or using lock-on). Boss fights are quite challenging, not because of the telegraph moves are difficult to notice or avoid, but because they last forever. Even after numerous weapon and skill upgrades, I never felt more powerful, seemingly doing only a minor increase of damage, and when you are fighting a boss and minions simultaneously, it’s actually quite challenging.

Luckily health refills when killing enemies, but you’ll always need to be on your toes. The large scale boss fights are quite enjoyable though, with two being quite memorable. I won’t spoil anything, but I really enjoyed the mechanics for the final confrontation, even though it meant I had to slog through all of the previous hours.

Killing enemies will also earn you XP which you can then use to level up your skills and abilities. Nearly identical to the first game, you can spend your skill points however you wish, bolstering your favorite skills or choosing others to round out your abilities. Luckily this time you only play as Nameless, so the skill tree is much simpler this time around. When you choose to unlock a new skill, you’ll also earn passive bonuses that are linked between the two, so sometimes I was choosing a new ability more-so for the passive bonus, like extra health, rather than the skill itself. A small issue I had with the first game returns here as well, as the skill tree is done with diagonal lines, so you can’t simply press down to see the skill below it, you have to follow the skill path line. While not a deal breaker, it makes it more cumbersome and a chore than it needs to be.

Visually, not much has changed from the first title, that I can tell anyways. It still has that anime inspired artistic style to it, which suits the source material. I get that a small team can only do so much, but it does look quite dated at this point, even if you enjoy the art direction. There’s sometimes a distinct clash though, as many areas will be dark and grey, while others are very bright, vibrant and uses great lighting and effects. The soundtrack is pleasant enough, but again, the voice acting is very hit or miss, depending on the character.

If you’re a fan of the lore and Anima series, then The Nameless Chronicles is a no-brainer and an easy sell. If you’re looking for challenging combat with some RPG elements, you could do worse. It has a very interesting story if you can follow along, more-so if you’ve played the first, but is simply bogged down by its constant and repetitive combat that does little to excite.

Overall: 7.1 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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