For anyone caught in the thralls of nostalgia when they meditate upon the hours spent playing games like Final Fantasy Tactics, or Vagrant Hearts in their rascally youth, (or just really dig a good tactical RPG) Swords of Anima will stimulate that area of your brain that thrives off of tactical victory complete with JRPG-esque fantasy. Swords of Anima takes the story-telling and battle mechanics of those classics and implements it with especially satisfactory results.
The story of Swords of Anima centers on a conflict between two factions and the rise of an evil force in the world that suggests a higher clash of arms. Cut scenes are rendered in beautiful, anime-style art that pops from the screen and the music is highly reminiscent of the fare delivered in console titles such as Final Fantasy. The game runs very smoothly with no lag or choppiness, which is extremely impressive considering the polished look of the game. Battle sequences are rendered in 3D, and viewed from a top-down perspective, over-looking the battlefield. The presentation is one of the highlights of the game, the audio and visual production values are among the best on the Android platform, at least among the RPG genre.
Unlike most RPGs, there is no open-world exploration, but rather a linear series of battles that are supplemented by beautifully-rendered cut scenes. The battles are turn-based, usually with the player team going first, followed by the enemy team. The character classes include the standard RPG fare such as the Paladin, the Sorcerer, the Scout (Rogue) while incorporating universe-specific classes such as the Vanquisher, the Custodian and the Kensei – which is honestly this universe’s version of a ninja. Each class has specific abilities that they can take advantage of, such as the Paladin’s ability to survive a deadly strike by still retaining a single hit point or the Vanquisher being able to return damage dealt to them.
Perhaps the only nagging flaw with the game is the somewhat derivative plot and weak writing at points. While it is certainly a serviceable setting and plot with a dash of intrigue to keep things interesting, there is little in the way of story that is going to blow the average RPG player’s mind. After all, political intrigue evolving into world-shattering cosmic good-and-evil conflicts is the genre’s bread and butter. That being said, the characters are interesting and the story has enough turns to keep you engaged.
Given the crowded genre of the RPG, it can be quite difficult crafting a product that stands out from the morass. However, Swords of Anima manages to do so just by its vibrant style and great gameplay. The battles manage to balance fun and difficulty. Early battles can actually lull you into a false sense of safety, seeing as how they are pretty easy to complete, even with Challenge objectives involved. However, there is a point where you will feel the pendulum swing in the opposite direction. Strategy and planning become essential – especially in terms of how you implement your different characters and their abilities.
The game is an example of one of the best android RPGs on the platform. If you’re a fan of the genre and its staples, you have to check it out.
Is it Hardcore?
Yes it is.
A classic RPG formula executed to near-perfection.