Back in 2016 Anima: Gate of Memories successfully got released after being Kickstarted. It wasn't bad. However, I'll totally admit I wasn't expecting it to get a sequel, so news of the upcoming follow-up surprised me. The end result is Anima: Gate of Memories - The Nameless Chronicles a game that is more of a sidequel than a sequel. Does it do enough to be worth playing?You play as Nameless, a several-thousand-year-old immortal who hunts monsters for a living. When some members of a holy order steal his blood to perform a ritual, he begins to look into their activities. It's not long before he ventures into the same mysterious tower from the first game. A body possessing spirit known as Unknown joins him. Unknown may or may not be his ally and seems to have its own agenda. While Nameless has a much better idea of what's going on than the original clueless duo, there's still plenty of mysteries he has to figure out.
You'd think that The Nameless Chronicles would hit similar highs and lows as the first game, but it actually does much worse. The vast majority of the content is just copy and pasted from the original game. You'll rehear the same stories about the same bosses, and tread through some of the same events a second time. There seems to be an assumption that you've played the first game and actively remember its story. A lot of those events lack the explanation that Anima gave them since it's assumed Nameless knows more about them.
It's only near the very end, once you get through all the repeated story beats, that you reach some new content. Nameless' story is surprisingly interesting. Learning the life of someone hiding his immortality is way better than I thought it'd be. Sadly the last hour then jumps back into repeated content and total nonsense that makes the story just as uninteresting as before.
Repetition of content applies to the gameplay as well. The basics in The Nameless Chronicles works similar to Anima: Gate of Memories, albeit with the major difference that you only play as a single character. In an attempt to still have depth, the Hand of Thanathos replaces character swapping. This new power serves as a modifier for abilities. For example, a simple sword swing now becomes a shockwave that knocks enemies over. The idea isn't bad, but most abilities don't actually change in a significant enough way to matter. In the end, The Nameless Chronicles loses the most interesting feature of Anima's combat and doesn't have anything that great to replace it with.
Your general goal is to go through zones and collect memories of the boss that resides there. Each boss has three hidden memory fragments that you need to find. The problem is that two of the three zones are ripped right from the first game. One of them, a burning church, at least makes sense. That's where you had one of your encounters with Nameless in Anima. However, I couldn't think of any good reason to reuse Nascal's Mansion. Thankfully, both areas lose some of the terrible puzzles and other fat from their past incarnations. Despite that, I still felt like I was just replaying large swaths of the first game.
As I explored each location I fought a ton of bosses. I'm not exaggerating, The Nameless Chronicles loves boss fights. I'd probably clock the game in at about ten hours. I'm nearly positive I came quite close to triple digit boss fights by the end. The tutorial alone had eight. Worse, the vast majority of these boss fights was just normal enemies with big health bars. There are a couple creative ones, I liked getting to fight the heroes from the first game as they used all the skills and mechanics that I remembered, but they're not the norm. Ultimately, it cheapened the whole idea behind boss fights, making them feel like just another throwaway encounter.
Between stages, you can explore the tower that serves as the game's hub world. There's not too much to see, but there is a hidden shopkeeper that can make the game a lot easier. Look a little further and you can find an important side quest that ties up the story of Zero, a shadowy masked figure who plays a role in both games. It's nice that there's some extra content to extend the game, but you ultimately won't lose much if you skip it.
The problem with voice acting is another carryover, and The Nameless Chronicles is home to some absurdly terrible voice acting. Many characters either sound bored like they couldn't even care what's going on or are so overly emotional it gets comedic. I will at least give some applause to YouTuber Cr1TiKal, who shows up and sounds like he's chewing the scenery every time he's there. Everyone else is just... bad. Especially so with the main character, who may be the most depressed sadsack of an anime character I've ever heard.
Thankfully, the soundtrack is still amazing. I really appreciate how much work has seemingly gone into it. While the voice acting may not hold up, the soundtrack does a great job in actually making those dramatic scenes feel dramatic. It works best when just exploring the world, or during one of the game's many boss fights. After all, no one is trying to talk over it then.
I really wanted to like Anima: Gate of Memories - The Nameless Chronicles. I honestly hoped that a sequel could improve upon the original game in all the right ways. Instead, many elements either felt like they've stagnated or took a blatant step backward. The reused levels and story elements don't help this at all. The whole game gives the vibe that it was supposed to be DLC rather than a full product. There's still some fun to be found here, but it's just smashed somewhere between one of the many repetitive boss fights.
Anima: Gate of Memories - The Nameless Chronicles was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC and Xbox One, with a Nintendo Switch version coming out on 7/20.11
Anima: Gate of Memories - The Nameless Chronicles is in a weird spot. Many of its elements are either reused from the first game, or made worse. It makes for an uneven adventure that can't hold itself up despite a few bright spots.
- Some Story Moments Interesting
- Occasionally Fun Boss Fights
- Great Soundtrack
- Most of the Story Boring, Confusing
- Many Reused Areas
- Tons of Pointless Boss Fights
- Terrible Voice Acting