As mentioned several times on our site, we were looking forward to Mato Anomalies. This new RPG is offered by Prime Matter and Arrowiz studios and has been available since March 10, 2023. The independent studio, Shanghai, had distilled us a soundtrack and images with an atypical and futuristic graphic style which had piqued our curiosity. With a promise: to immerse us in a dystopian universe combining investigation, role-playing and supernatural creatures. We suggest you put on your combat gear, you’re going to need it and teleport in reading our test.

You asked for narration?

The narration is one of the strengths of Mato anomaly, you will successively embody two protagonists, Doe and Gram. Through these two characters, you will have to investigate strange phenomena, explore dungeons or even fight. Doe, the detective, investigates on behalf of a mysterious woman named Belladonna on mysterious entities that seem to want to destroy the city. For his part, Gram is the exorcist who fights the “doom tide”. From the prologue, the two protagonists will meet in a parallel universe called the Caves, where only Gram can fight. As we progress in this game, new characters will appear such as Chrysalis. The story takes place in a dystopian universe, a neo-futuristic city called Mato. It is described by the studio as a representation of “old Shanghai”. Overall, the narration is an important part of this game, through our investigation, we will have to find “the bad guy” and go to the Lair to fight and to scrounge clues. We wondered about the scope of this story, at times it is likely that it is a disguised criticism of our own society where we evoke strong themes such as the workers’ struggle, corruption, the hope, justice or the feeling of duty. We’ll let you make up your own mind on the matter. The immersion in the skin of the character is for our part successful. Both the context and the story allow us to attach ourselves to the characters although the story is totally futuristic.

Yes ! The storytelling is one of the strong points of the game, however if reading scares you, this game is not for you. There is a lot of dialogue for both the main quest and the annexes. The studio offers an interesting innovation to prevent players from getting bored with the dialogues by offering various dialogue formats: cinematics, cutscenes in the form of comics, or even moments where you have to choose between two answers. If we start from the premise that you don’t like to read the dialogues, this game will most likely not be for you. The game is fully dubbed in English, Chinese and Japanese and with texts fully translated into French. It is already quite rare to see this type of game translated into French, especially for lower budget studios. To return to the dialogues, Mato anomaly is very close to a Visual Novel as the narration has an important place. Arrowiz has integrated settings to refine the speed of the dialogues, but also to be able to completely skip them. For our part, we think it would be a shame to skip the dialogues of the main quest at the risk that you completely miss the story.

Diversified gameplay that leaves us wanting more

blankLet’s now focus on the gameplay of Mato Anomalie, as you will have understood, we control two characters Doe and Gram who offer us two totally different, but complementary gameplays. For starters, Doe can hack the minds of suspects/characters in order to find information to further the investigation. This hack takes the form of a game of cards more or less like Magic cards (for those in the know). We have the choice between several decks with relatively varied gameplay at the start of the mental hack. The goal is to beat the spirit of the individual until it reaches 0 and where he can reveal his secret to us. Of course, the spirit will also be able to defend itself and attack us. These exchanges take place on a turn-by-turn basis and are dynamic. We had fun playing these mind hacks. As a player, we don’t have the option of choosing which minds will be hacked, they are skillfully orchestrated by the narration.

blankFor his part, Gram has the possibility of going to the Caves to fight monsters. Dens are Persona-like dungeons that take place in a parallel universe. For battles, Gram will be able to team up with unexpected companions. It will be dynamic turn-based combat, our characters have different skills and weapons. The balance between characters and skills is well found so that it is not necessary to use potions (at all in normal difficulty). The fights are similar to the types of fights that can be found in a good RPG, they do not renew the wheel. Enemies have weaknesses or resistances depending on the type of attack that has been selected. For skills, it will be possible to improve them through points that we earn by leveling up our character. Also, skills cannot be used every turn. In other words, each skill includes “a cooldown bar” which is materialized by a number of turns to wait to be able to relaunch the attack. Our group shares its life bar as well as the experience points (which will be present on each character). It is also possible to configure the fight so that it takes place without action on our part. We see this type of mechanism more and more, it depends on your way of playing. The dungeons also have portals, puzzles or even kinds of switches that will make the dungeons more complex.

blankLike any good RPG, there are various vendors in the city where you can buy: equipment, weapons and other potions. To summarize, the gameplays are diversified and above all dynamic. For our part, we would have liked to have had more variety regarding the monsters encountered in the Lair, which would have made the dungeons less monotonous. We found the dungeons relatively off-putting, which is a shame given that it makes up a large majority of the game. Another point we would like to raise is that it is neither possible to run with Doe nor with Gram. This can be very frustrating, especially when the side or main missions keep making us go back and forth between different areas. The investigation part is only skimmed over, in our eyes it was the element that would have really made the game stand out from its competitors.

Onion Art Direction

blankArrowiz hit hard with its artistic direction. We can say that the city of Mato is successful as it is pretty, mixing traditional and futuristic architecture in a post-apocalyptic world. Easy to say will you tell me? Yes, it’s true that the environments are relatively small and the map allowing us to move around is relatively old. But, keep in mind that this is a small studio with a non-extendable budget. Well, we must also admit that all the secondary characters do not have faces. This allows you to save money, you had to make concessions. In nomadic mode, some textures are slightly runny, but do not interfere with gameplay. Once these points have been mentioned, the graphic part is beautiful, and will remind us of certain neo-futuristic games. The mobile camera is appreciable, but it remains a classic element in RPGs. Regarding the game itself, we did not encounter any bugs. Furthermore, an important point, Mato Anomalie is terribly fluid with relatively short loading times. Finally on the artistic aspect, the soundtrack is worked however I did not manage to identify myself and find pleasure in it (totally subjective). If you want to preview the type of music, the game gave us some time before its release one of the music of the game called Lover of Time, interpreted by Qi Zhang, the singer of Mist and produced by Mi Jiayu.

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