Masters of Anima can be classified as an action game with puzzle elements mixed in with it. It lives in the same vein as game franchises such as Pikmin and Overlord. In Masters of Anima, you play as Otto, an apprentice of Anima who is on his journey to become a master of Anima. Of course, as all happy stories go, your fiancé, whom you can’t marry until you become a master, is captured by the evil Zahr and his army of golems. It is up to you to master your craft and save your fiancé from the evil clutches of Zahr. As far as stories go, it is pretty cut and dry, defeat the evil and save your loved one. Masters of Anima does have some nicely voiced dialogue which makes going through the story more enjoyable. I mean hell, you can use Anima to control a giant golem at some point, so that’s pretty cool!
The core of Masters of Anima lies in its interesting take on the unit management system. As an apprentice/soon to be master of Anima, Otto has control over the chaotic substance that rules over the world of Spark. Anima comes from all things whether it is pots or plants in the world or from defeated Golems. Otto can spawn and control a number of different Guardians. There are five different guardians for Otto to spawn and help him battle Golems and solve various puzzles. Each of the guardians and Otto can be leveled up to earn skill points to apply as you see fit. There are skills that allow you to have more guardians on the screen as well reaching up to 100 in your command! The only downfall to this system is that you can only apply these skills, or reset them, in between the levels. This means that if you run into a particularly difficult fight, you need to go back to the level select menu and restart from there.
There were segments of the game where it felt like the learning curve from one level to the next was extremely steep. I ran into a couple different Golems that just completely decimated me one moment, but I was able to overcome them the next. Resource management was a problem at the beginning of the game. I would run out of Anima stores during a fight and the Golem would destroy all of my guardians. This made me have to resort to fighting the Golems with Otto’s regular attacks, which are not that strong by any stretch. This made for some frustrating fights but forced me to implement a certain amount of strategy with every fight. Positioning and choosing which guardians were important for that mission became pinnacle as I progressed through the game.
I was able to review Masters of Anima on the Nintendo Switch. The Switch offers some nice versatility when it comes to gaming. Having played the game in both docked mode and mobile on the Switch itself I can comfortably say that I enjoyed it more in handheld mode. I feel like the game didn’t really lose any graphical prowess whether it was in handheld mode or docked mode. Speaking of graphics, Masters of Anima has a perfect visual style that really suits the game. Masters of Anima boasts a cartoony, almost cel-shaded graphical style. Bright colors and designs are supported by some nice audio making for a great environment to play into.
Masters of Anima is an overall enjoyable experience, and for only $19.99 it’s a steal. Skill management and a high learning curve could turn a casual gamer away from this title. Masters of Anima offers challenging combat and puzzles that take a certain amount of strategy to complete. Though the learning curve is high, it is not impossible, it just takes a little more time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each guardian. Masters of Anima is definitely a title that you should pick up if you are a fan of the aforementioned games at the beginning of this review. Lead Otto to his stolen love and become a Master of Anima!
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