A new action RTS from Passtech Games, Masters of Anima is straight out of a genre that I love. It’s an obscure and somewhat hard to pinpoint category. At its core, it is an RTS. And yet, comparing it to an RTS archetype like Starcraft? They couldn’t be less similar. Unlike Starcraft, Masters has direct character control, no base station, basic resource gathering, and closed off battles.
The two couldn’t be more different.
After some excessively brief research, I found a prospective definition for the genre: action RTS. Just like Pikmin, Battalion Wars, Overlord, and Little King’s Story, you are a commander on a battlefield.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the gameplay for Masters of Anima is simple: gather anima – the energy source of the world – and instantly bind it into stone soldiers who fight for you. Amass an army and send them into battle, then direct them through contextual danger on the battlefield. The game delivers simple storytelling through animated stills, which is one of my favorite indie game styles. Sadly, a derivative plot and mediocre voice work really keep the driving action of the game from really driving anything.
The basic plot, without spoiling anything, is a love story. Our main character, Otto, is engaged to the Shaper Supreme, a person of utmost importance. The Shaper Supreme is captured during a cataclysmic event and he is tasked with saving her.
The only problem?
He just passed his entrance exam. Which by the sounds of it, is an exam he avoided for a good number of years because he’s lazy. Also? He doesn’t care about said cataclysm and merely wants to rescue his bride-to-be and flee as everything he’s ever known is destroyed. Unfortunately, every other mildly capable shaper has been killed, so his elder reluctantly sends him on his way to hopefully save their civilization.
I have a hard time trusting this guy
The gameplay and atmosphere is where this game comes to shine. Set in a cell shaded world that is very reminiscent of old Warcraft, the backdrop is very pleasing and easy to navigate. The cell shading also keeps things easily discernible as the battlefield heats up, which is where the game starts to shine. Dividing and commanding your soldiers is an exciting mental exercise. Do you pull your frontline troops back as the enemy winds up a devastating attack or do you attempt to rush the foe and stun him? The controls are extremely easy to keep up, but take a brilliant series of trial and error that lead to a very well scaled difficulty. The game is consistent in wordlessly teaching the player and small, flowing decisions are what keep this game genuine.
At the end of the day, I found that the wonderfully evolving gameplay kept me going past all of the game’s simple flaws. While I think a broom would have a stronger sense of duty and basic reasoning, I find the little bonded souls behind Otto pushed me forward through it all.
I give Masters of Anima a 7.5/10.