It’s been a few years, but there’s nothing like raising minions and sending them off to do your work for you, Masters of Anima follows in the trend leaving fans of Pikmin and Necromancers worldwide, eager in anticipation.
From the mysterious main menu with a clear contrasting font, Masters of Anima screams mystery and as you take control of Otto, you might be later to the anima controlling arts, but you set out for your trials to finally prove you’re capable. Just as you’d expect in the world of video games, things don’t always go to plan and soon enough you’re chasing after your fiancée Ana who’s had her soul trapped and split across the world for you to search.
You’ll have some early guidance, and the game presents itself in a fresh and inviting nature but soon enough you’ll be on your own as you head out to save Ana and the world. The story moves at a nice rate without making you feel like your progressing too quickly but still rewarding your venture as you meet new characters and unlock new minions. Characters are quite well voiced, all feel well made and interesting and while the cartoon point & click style presentation won’t be to everyone’s liking, and doesn’t quite feel the perfect fit for a minion controlling RTS, it still works surprisingly well, even when you’re controlling close to 100 scrawny minions at once, you’ll still feel in total control and while some sections prove pretty tough, you’ll only have yourself to blame if things don’t go to plan thanks to Masters of Anima feeling like a fair and rewarding experience.
Early on, you’re control is limited to basic minions who simple waltz up to an enemy and start swinging like crazy, these guys aren’t going to knock down the Berlin wall, but they will stand their ground. Soon enough you’ll open up your second group of minions who are archers, hard-hitting ranged groups who have the small problem of being more brittle than humpty dumpty. Thankfully Masters of Anima uses varied troops to full effects giving you control of them as a group an entire army or simply selecting just a few.
Smaller enemies might go down quicker by sending your whole army straight at them, but stronger targets will make short work of your weaker units, hiding archers in grass and moving them around the field will keep them alive longer while your early minions will slowly work away at the target needing more than a single hit to knock them out of action. This all comes together to produce a pretty simple and very effective control scheme meaning a typical Mouse & Keyboard RTS system carries over well to the control pad.
Graphically the whole presentation of the game took an hour to really settle, it just didn’t feel like the right look, but as I mentioned above, it works, play remains smooth and fluent even with a screen full of action, labelled as Xbox One X Enhanced, the official Microsoft website doesn’t state 4K, I can confirm it displays at an impressive 2160p and looks glorious in action.
Sound matches the graphics with an almost floorless performance, again the dark mysterious art of raising minions just feels a little too grimy for the clean-cut presentation, but again it just works, and while rated PEGI 12, I wouldn’t have any problem at all with my 10 year old twins playing as there’s no noticeable severe language or gruesome violence.
While completionists may want to retread every level in search of the glorious S rank, most will be happy playing through the game once, which does leave Masters of Anima a little short, but for £15.99 I’d still happily recommend the title because of it’s unique nature and rarely seen genre combining to make a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Just like Pikmin, Masters of Anima is the sort of title you will return to just for the fun of bossing around a hundred minions, but it’s a shame that there’s not something more once you’ve worked through the campaign apart from treading old ground for a slightly better rank and a few achievements.