Mato Anomalies Review (PS5) – Developed by members from across multiple studios including Take-Two and Marvel Studios, Mato Anomalies is an interesting title that, unfortunately, suffers greatly from an identity crisis.
Developer Arrowiz tries hard to blend various genres, and in the process, Mato Anomalies gets lost in its presentation.
Mato Anomalies Review (PS5) – An Interesting Concept That Gets Lost In Its Own Identity
A Good Story That Takes Too Long To Get To The Point
You take on the role of Doe, a private investigator in a fantasized neo-futuristic bygone oriental city. Doe is tasked with finding something called the HANDOUT. While on his search, he is transported to an alternate dimension where he encounters Gram, an exorcist.
Saving Doe’s life from the demons called the Bane Tide, Doe learns of an entirely new world parallel to his own, and the demonic forces of the Bane Tide influence the worst of the people living in the city of Mato.
Doe teams up with Gram and other allies he encounters on his journey to solve the various crimes in his city while also trying to stop the ever-growing influence of the Bane Tide.
There is a lot of story to dissect in Mato Anomalies, and the game’s ten chapters take quite a while to get through. Each chapter consists of a brand new major case Doe has to solve and figure out how everything is connected.
Great Writing And Characters
When it makes sense, the main story is good, and I enjoyed Doe’s version of it but Gram’s alternate version and how the Bane Tide influences everything.
I felt this explanation dragged the story down because it just felt that everything wrong everyone was doing was simply the fault of a demon.
Any major why the question is answered with the Bane Tide did it. It felt like a very black-and-white way of looking at the world.
The characters themselves are the standouts in the story, and I loved their interactions with each other.
Doe isn’t a fighter and is constantly bullied by his teammates because he takes too long to gather clues. It’s fun to read and adds a lot of layers to each of the characters.
Trying To Find The Best Way To Tell Its Story
The story is presented in three different ways. The first is your simple dialogue with character portraits. This is your primary way to experience the story; it’s the least fun.
There is a lot of dialogue in Mato Anomalies, and quite honestly, the amount of reading you have to do can drag down and halt your progress.
It’s made even worse when you have to move from one location to another to experience a conversation that lasts up to ten minutes, move to a new location on the map and go through the process again.
The other way the story is presented is through comic strips and panels. These are fully voiced and feature a few more action scenes.
The game does feature full-on cutscenes, but at times these aren’t animated all too well, and the voice work sometimes didn’t match the tone of what was happening on screen.
Linearity Killed The Exploration
Gameplay is laid out the same way as the story is. The best parts of it are when you’re exploring the Lairs. Lairs are the dimensions that the Bane Tide live. Though they are linear in design, the game adds new features and branching paths.
Sometimes you’re asked questions; depending on your answer, one path will open while another will close. They lead to the exact location, but you may miss specific weapons and item drops.
The Lairs have an interesting design depicting various human emotions Gluttany represents the first few you go through.
This particular Lair comes from Gluttany Mountain and features piles of big money on the ground with shadowy hands reaching up as you would see at the stock market.
Stock prices are displayed throughout the environment, with numbers fluctuating and news broadcasts playing on small TVs.
As you explore the Lair, you’ll find chests to open, some environmental hazards, and simple puzzles to solve to open up your paths. It’s not anything special and is extremely linear.
Simple But Effective Combat
Combat is your typical turn-based flair, though it does try some new and interesting things. Your HP is shared between your entire party.
If one party member gets hurt, your whole team suffers for it. Special abilities are also set to cool down times based on turns.
The more powerful the skill, the longer you have to wait to be able to use that skill again. The skill cooldown also doesn’t reset after every battle, so you must consider what skills you should use and what ones to save for the subsequent encounter.
I enjoyed this system as it added some strategy to a simple formula. Combat isn’t all too difficult, to begin with, but there are some difficulty spikes when you get to the bosses.
Worse yet, you can’t level grind because enemies appear on the field and don’t respawn once defeated.
Upgrading And Progression Take Awhile
Just like sharing HP, you’re party shares experience points. When you level up, then the whole party levels up. You gain a skill point that you can use in three different tabs. Yin, Yang and Ultimate.
Yin is for offensive stats and allows you to increase your weapon and skill damage.
Yang is for defensive stats and allows you to level up HP and evasion stats. Ultimate is where you’re characters can learn their most potent attack, but these are level specific and only unlock when you reach a certain level.
Equipment isn’t traditional like other RPGs’ weapons are character specific, and each gets two different types you can equip. Gear is your other set of equipment.
Gears are laid out on a grid and up your stats with a percentage. Gears also come in sets, so if you place down three HP Gears with the same name, for example, they connect and give you a much bigger HP bonus than usual.
Card Battling That Isn’t Fun Or Intuitive
Mato Anomalies features a card battle system that forces you to partake. This is the worst part of the game and wouldn’t be such a pain if it wasn’t forced on you.
For those who enjoy card battles, you may find something here to enjoy, but I did not.
In the story, you have to do what’s called Mind Hacking. This allows you to get the truth out of people that don’t want to dish it out. Think of it like Truth Syroim.
During the battle, you have to attack the person to get their HP down, and you have various cards that do that while adding some added effects.
The issue comes when demons begin to defend the target. These demons have their own HP and can’t be killed but can be knocked out for several turns.
Demons are what drag Mind Hacking as a game mode down. These demons can take up valuable time in your progress because even though the game tells you, you don’t have to deal with the demons to win. You do.
Demons add godly buffs to your opponent. An example of this is constantly negating your first attack to zero damage. Another buff is adding an extra three attacks to your opponent.
Another demon will negate your defense and any defense cards you play to reduce the damage you take.
It almost becomes impossible when you have to take on opponents with all three of these types of demons defending them.
Thankfully you can skip these card battles, but only after you lose three times which, of course, takes up way too much time when you want to move on with the story.
Great Character Design And Smooth Jazz Soundtrack
Visually, the game’s art design is excellent, and the characters’ main cast looks remarkable even though the enemies themselves are relatively bland and repetitive.
The city of Mato is interesting. It has many holographic advertisements, but the people all seem poor. It’s like the worst parts of the world of Blde Runner.
The soundtrack may be my favourite, with a smooth jazz soundtrack and some excellent ambient music while exploring the town. The voice work, for the most part, is also good outside of some of the voice tones not matching what’s happening on screen.
I wish the voice acting had been utilized more, especially during the hefty dialogue scenes that dragged on forever.
An Identity Crisis
Mato Anomalies tries to blend various genre’s together, and it doesn’t succeed as much as it thinks.
The Mind Hacking drags the game tremendously and feels entirely out of place. Though I enjoyed the simple yet strategic combat, it won’t turn many heads. Though its writing is top-notch and has a good story to tell, it’s hard to focus on it when you have to stare at character portraits and text dialogue for half an hour.
Mato Anomalies is now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
Review Code kindly provided by PR