Arrowiz Studios employs creatives from China and America to create a new JRPG. Mato Anomalies. Arrowiz was kind enough to allow us to play the demo version of the game on our PC.
Mato AnomaliesThe event takes place in Mato (a retro-futuristic, futuristic version of Shanghai). The aesthetics and fashion are a mix between the Roaring 20s, traditional Chinese, as well as cyberpunk. Brick houses and shops line city streets. While peddlers stand before blankets to sell their wares and massive holograms displaying divas hover over pedestrians, straw hat-wearing beggars whisper enigmas. A gynoid wearing a Robocop visor is also one of the characters. It’s a beautiful mix of characters, with a wonderful color palette to bring them all together.
Two protagonists are featured in the game. The first is Doe, who is a private investigator assigned by a local nightclub owner as a task to investigate the local drug market. The other is his partner Gram, a “shaman” who dresses like a ronin to fight the Bane Tide—demons who feed off of emotions. Although they work together, the game is split between them. Doe travels Mato, meeting people of interest, investigating leads and exploring new areas. Gram is only controlled by players during battles against Bane Tide in the sub-dimensional pockets which serve as dungeons.
Battles are an easy JRPG experience. Players and monsters swap blows until their health is exhausted. In the demo we played, battles were limited to just Gram facing off against a handful of “Bingo” enemies. Some attacks had a turn-based cooldown. These included an AOE attack, and a double-slash. Gram did not have the right kind of attack that the menus promised.
Doe doesn’t put too much emphasis on investigation, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own battles. Doe offers Mind/Hacks as an alternative to raw combat. This is a card game where you can overwhelm a person’s mental defenses. This is a stripped-down version HearthstoneYou may play up three cards per round, and you can destroy mental demons (or daemons?) While you make direct attacks on the enemy. Although we had very few opportunities to customize our Mind/Hack cards, it was possible in the final game.
Unfortunately, this hope is not enough to do the heavy lifting. Mato AnomaliesIt still needs to be improved. It’s easy to forget that the visuals can sometimes be a bit sloppy and moving the camera causes the game to stutter. Mato AnomaliesIt seems quite basic and unimportant for a JRPG. Demons feed off human emotion is a common practice. In the brief glimpse that we got, little was said about the danger the Bane Tide poses. We only found three battles in the dungeon that we visited. The battle mode itself doesn’t seem to be very novel. Most JRPGs will have some sort of mechanism or twist to the formula. Mato Anomalies… doesn’t. Persona’s Press Turn, Dragon Quest’s Tension mechanic, Grandia’s Times Bar… There are many types of mechanics. Mato AnomaliesYou could have drawn inspiration from to reward the player. The only choice was to use brute force.
Doe’s Mind/Hacks was similarly lacking in engagement. From the one match that we were allowed to play, there was very little strategy. The only thing we could do was to bumrush the opponent’s Demons and then direct attacks on the opponent while demons respawn. We were not allowed to see any strategy cards, nor any defensive cards. The matches were not well presented. The victory screen was unceremoniously thrown up. For as beautiful as Mato AnomaliesAlthough it is a great movie, the detail-oriented aspect of the film falls short. Although the cutscenes are done in comic-book style with impressive voice acting and inspired panelings, the scene transitions can be seen as abrupt jump-cuts. The dialogue scenes are set up like visual novels. However, the camera wobbles when you move your mouse. Voice clips in battle also repeat too often.
These problems could be solved by Arrowiz, which would be great! Mato AnomaliesThe full release. The game’s basic design shows a lot of promise, and it looks solid. You have the potential to create engaging battles or a card game that is both fun and satisfying. Although the basic idea is familiar, it’s worth revisiting as it can be done well. Although this is Arrowiz’s maiden expedition, we hope that they can work out any kinks before it’s too late. Mato AnomaliesFull release.