Mato Anomalies | Review of an RPG inspired by Persona 5

Mato Anomalies | Review of an RPG inspired by Persona 5

Mato Anomalies is the classic example of a video game which, in trying to offer a varied and rich experience, ends up putting too much iron on the fire. The Chinese studio Arrowiz comes up with a multifaceted project : part investigative title and part visual novel, turn-based RPG and card game. Some of these features shine brighter than others, but overall there are underlying issues that prevent the title from reaching its full potential.

--> Mato Anomalies is set in Mato, a futuristic version of an oriental city that doesn't show off huge skyscrapers and neon lights, but is more reminiscent of a city born in the Belle Époque era, an aspect that we also find more in the way in which the spaces of the metropolises are organized: the various areas are separated from each other in an almost functional way, but above all built to exacerbate the gap between classes. Mato Anomalies is therefore also a land of social conflicts, between the poorest classes and the wealthiest classes.

In this scenario, demonic forces also insinuate themselves, exploiting vices and weaknesses to penetrate the fabric of reality, bringing out the worst in the people affected or exasperating situations that were now close to exploding. This is where Doe comes in, a private investigator tasked with finding information on a phantom AID that is depopulating in the shady activities of the underworld. Soon, Doe will be catapulted to a foreign and supernatural place where he will meet Gram, a shaman determined to fight and eradicate the Bale Tide that feeds on human emotions.

We reviewed the game with the following PC:

GPU : Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3070 Ti


RAM : Patriot Viper Steel 64GB (2 x 32GB) DDR4 3600MHz

br> CPU : AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

SSD : Samsung 980 PRO NVMe 1TB with Heatsink

A hodgepodge of ideas that doesn't always work

--> The two characters also represent two of the many faces of the game: Doe will make the game events progress by moving around the city, collecting clues mainly by talking to people and moving with the subway, or by moving quickly once the map of the various points of interest. In these moments the visual novel nature of the title emerges more and the dialogues represent almost all of the interactions. Mostly you will just read the story that is told through conversations and sometimes the events take a more dynamic turn with interludes where the screen becomes a comic book table and the cartoons briefly come to life. I briefly underline why the audio and the texts are not synchronized: the animation lasts a few seconds, then it stops and the audio keeps going.

At first it's alienating but in the long run I got the hang of it habit. What bothered me the most is having to move repeatedly to places I've already visited and the presence of uploads that can lengthen the time between one move and another didn't help. The storyline, however, was overall engaging enough to keep me hooked. Sometimes it's a little hard to keep up with the many terms that are introduced but I found each story interesting also to get an idea of ​​what life is like on Mato, what problems people face and how they try to survive, which it certainly made my stay on Mato Anomalies less anonymous and more experienced, as if I were part of its inhabitants and case by case I was understanding the reasons.

--> When meeting someone reluctant to talk, Doe can put into operation a special glove that allows him to "hack" people's minds and persuade them. In this phase the game turns into a card game with several decks each based on specific mechanics that allow you to try different strategies to succeed in the enterprise. In these clashes, the people to be persuaded are accompanied by demons who can act as a filter between the host and Doe, or enhance the host's actions as long as they are alive. Once destroyed, they will be able to return to play after a cooldown.

Unfortunately, the use of the glove is rather limited; I wish there were more moments where I could use the cards because I found them much more challenging to use than fights that are only tactical on the surface. If it had been a game where both the fights and the dialogue phases take place with cards, as Griftlands does, there probably would have been a way to take care of and deepen the game mechanics more.

Gram, unlike Doe, acts inside the Covi, the dungeons where the Baleful Tide is more concentrated, taking advantage of all his combat skills. During the adventure, other characters will join each other, each characterized by its own fighting style and a different utility in the game such as attracting enemies, healing or applying buffs and debuffs. In these places the role-playing component emerges with turn-based combat.

Furthermore, the Lairs are the element that brings Mato Anomalies closest to Persona 5, at least conceptually. As happens in the Palaces, the Havens linked to the main events of a chapter take on a form linked to the person who is the victim of the Baleful Tide and to the events that involve him . Thus, for example, greed and the hunger for riches are transformed into backdrops with pallets of banknotes and graphics that mimic the trend of stock market prices. Even the names of the enemies, in this particular case, recalled aspects related to large amounts of money and gambling such as Pachinko and Bingo.

Aside from the presentation and some visual enrichment, the hideouts are however one of the weakest aspects of Mato Anomalies above all for their repetitiveness and for the choice of making the enemies like obstacles that block the path to be removed only by winning the fight. In this way, every possible strategy or tactical move is canceled, such as surprising an enemy from behind to activate an advantageous attack or simply go around it if you were low on HP. The enemies are there, motionless on their point and you have to crash into them if you want to get to the end of the dungeon. The Havens and enemies don't excel in design, the former are long corridors with some light puzzle mechanics to unlock the way, while the latter have little variety.

The combat system itself is quite classic and linear. There is also a hint of a system of resistances and weaknesses which however results in attacks that simply do more or less damage and does not go further. Among the most interesting aspects we find the special abilities with a countdown based on the passage of turns that remains active between one fight and another, and the life bar, unique and shared among all party members. This often requires you to heal and pay attention to the times of use of skills between fights, but it has added a pinch of difficulty to the fights.

On the difficulty front but a precision must be made. At the moment it doesn't seem to me that the clashes have been balanced properly. Common enemies almost never worry and it is possible to hurry up the practice by activating the automatic fights. The latter is a much appreciated feature because it allows you to speed up the most boring parts while still entrusting the guide to an AI that behaves quite well. When you get to the boss at the end of the lair the gap suddenly widens. The fastest solution is to grind a bit, but if you've finished the side quests, you just have to enter the random lairs, shorter and even more anonymous than those related to the main story.

Arrowiz has certainly tried to build a dense RPG system in which there are also talent trees to give a sense of progression to the characters , team equipment in the form of chips to equip and connect to each other to accumulate bonuses and weapons of different types with levels and rarities that influence the attacks, but unfortunately the combat itself lacks depth and does not take full advantage of all the game systems built.

What Mato Anomalies lacked to fully convince us is the focus. So many different mechanics fused together also speak to different gamers, and maybe visual novel lovers will appreciate the investigation phases, while an RPG purist might find the combat superficial.

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