February 7, 2023

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The Chinese RPG that plays cards on the table

3 min read
The Chinese RPG that plays cards on the table

The Chinese RPG that plays cards on the table

During this Japan Expo 2022, Koch Media took the opportunity to show in more detail the latest game from the Chinese studio Arrowed, to which we owe Hermitage: Strange Case Files, released in 2018. Published under the new label of the German publisher, Prime Matter, the story of Mato Anomalies takes place in the city of Mato, a kind of neo-futuristic Shanghai, where we will follow Doe, a private detective investigating the mysteries of the city, and Gram, an enigmatic exorcist. Quickly, our two heroes will have to unite in order to fight various chimerical creatures threatening the city.

During our first glimpse of the game, it was first the artistic direction that struck us. The studio takes the time to set the context of the adventure, and for that, it has chosen to introduce the script elements via very stylized colored drawings, a bit like the comics, or as we have seen on XIII a few years ago. Presenting the main lines of the story in this way gives Mato Anomalies an immediate cachet and makes us want to immerse ourselves even more in this universe which seems to have a lot to offer us .

Especially since the two main characters that we had the opportunity to rub shoulders with, although not escaping certain clichés, seem thick enough to keep us in suspense during long phases of dialogue, as was the case during our session. Because yes, from the beginning, Mato Anomalies fills us with many elements. The universe must of course be set up, but the general rhythm could well suffer if the developers do not manage to balance between active gameplay phases and the long tirades between the heroes. A social link system should also be integrated, but for the moment it has not been presented to us.

A bit like a Persona, apart from the phases in the city, we are led to explore a dungeon inaccessible to ordinary mortals. On the spot, the threats are more concrete and abominable creatures seek to make us pass the weapon on the left. Intangible, these monsters are only sensitive to Gram’s exorcisms, which we will therefore control during turn-based confrontations.

Fairly classic in form, the combat system should eventually offer us quite powerful strategy possibilities. For example, Gram’s extra-sensory abilities may be fearsome, but they come at a cost, and each use of a spell will automatically lock him for a few turns, making him potentially inaccessible when needed.

In addition, we hope that the general dressing of the dungeon and the bestiary will be much more worked than what we were entitled to. Whether it’s the combat environment or the design of the creatures, they are clearly not up to what the exploration of the city has offered us, despite its technical issues such as clipping which will no doubt be corrected. for the release of the title. We can’t imagine that such an artistic contrast could occur throughout the adventure, it wouldn’t make sense…

Until then, Mato Anomalies offers nothing really out of the ordinary. But it was without counting on the malice of the developers who hid a new facet of the game from us. During our session, we asked for help from a resident of Mato. Unfortunately, he categorically refused to provide us with the information we were looking for. Never mind. Since we couldn’t convince him with words, we did so with our minds, and then penetrated his subconscious in order to change his way of seeing things and thus win him over to our cause.

To do this, we fought his “consciousness” and inflicted various psychic attacks on him during a phase that took the form of a deck of cards that we could very roughly compare to a Slay the Spire. The idea is interesting and we praise the studio’s desire to surprise us by getting out of the sometimes monotonous shackles of narrative RPGs. Unfortunately, as it stands, we were not convinced by this phase of the game .

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