Preview Japan Expo: Will this original video game between Persona 5 and Cyberpunk be impossible to miss?

Preview Japan Expo: Will this original video game between Persona 5 and Cyberpunk be impossible to miss?

During the Japan Expo, we were able to get our hands on Mato Anomalies, a recently announced Chinese game with an attractive cel-shaded aesthetic. With its universe between cyberpunk and mystery, does the title have enough to be a turn-based role-playing game to watch in 2023?

Summary

  • An aesthetic “between tradition and modernity”
  • Gameplay between Persona and Griftlands?

A small studio based in Shanghai and founded in 2016, Arrowiz first worked on titles like Beats Fever, a virtual reality game reminiscent of Beat Saber, then on Hermitage: Strange Case Files, a horrible visual novel set in the Hermitage, a bookstore that attracts customers all involved in business on the verge of the paranormal. Because of this second experience, the company will take up themes from its second project for its new game, Mato Anomalies, developed with funding from the Chinese giant Tencent. We were able to play it exclusively at the Japan Expo to discover the central mechanics of the experience.

An aesthetic “between tradition and modernity”

Mato Anomalies therefore takes place in a neo-futuristic version of Shanghai, which gives the city a rather unique aspect. It embodies Doe, a private detective hired by one of his regular customers to investigate a mysterious phenomenon taking place on the harbor quay. By inspecting in a container, our hero will be sucked into a parallel dimension populated by strange creatures who do not hesitate to attack him. Fortunately, the latter is rescued by Gram, an unpleasant exorcist / shaman. When we’re out of the cave, the name of this dimension, we learn that Nightshade, a secret organization, uses this kind of cargo filled with Bane Tide, the name of the strange creatures, to achieve their goal. To put an end to their actions, our detective and our excorsist will work with each other on a very specific mission.

Japan Expo: Will this original video game between Persona 5 and Cyberpunk be impossible to miss?

Visually, Mato Anomalie attracts attention with its beautiful rendering. Like many Asian role-playing games, the title of Arrowiz uses the cel-shading method, which gives an anime look to it all. If we are used to seeing this type of technique with Japanese games, on the contrary, we benefit from a Chinese aesthetic that brings a breath of fresh air. Thus we walk in an imaginary Shanghai, which is literally “between tradition and modernity”, as the cliché sounds, with both giant holograms à la Blade Runner, while we offer buildings with typical Chinese architecture. As for the characters, they enjoy a blackened style with the most beautiful effect, which puts them even more forward, while the intermediate sequences take the form of cartoon boxes. As a result, the title benefits from a true character that sets it apart from other games of the same genre and thus gives it a visual identity. We also find a work about the general atmosphere with a soundtrack with jazz tones, which gives a style of film noir to the adventure.

Japan Expo: Will this original video game between Persona 5 and Cyberpunk be impossible to miss?Japan Expo: Will this original video game between Persona 5 and Cyberpunk be impossible to miss?

Gameplay between Persona and Griftlands?

Japan Expo: Will this original video game between Persona 5 and Cyberpunk be impossible to miss?

In terms of its playability, Mato Anomalies is divided into two types of well-separated sequences. Primarily, as we evolve in Lairs, we are led to cross Bane Tide, which only Gram can meet. These phases take the form of classic turn-based combat, with basic attacks and skills that can only be used when recharged. Nothing special on that side as we were only able to play at the beginning of the game and we only struggled with Gram. However, it is obvious that as one progresses in the adventure, new mechanics and new companions will be added to the set.

Japan Expo: Will this original video game between Persona 5 and Cyberpunk be impossible to miss?

Once we are out of the caves, we find ourselves in control of Doe, who can talk to people on the street, resulting in dialogues with multiple choices. By his private detective side, we inevitably imagine that these choices of answers will matter later in history. More interesting, it is sometimes possible to “hack” the mind of someone who does not want to answer you, by using Sky Eye, Grams assistant. This kind of sequence then takes the form of a card game where the player must overcome the inner demons of his interlocutor while weakening his spirit. To do this we have four cards and three actions per. trip, where each card has attack and defense points as well as different effects of course. This is inevitably reminiscent of discussions about Griftland’s, Klei’s latest game (Mark of the Ninja, Don’t Starve, Oxygen Not Included …), which is based on a similar system. In any case, these phases bring a little variation and should increase in complexity as one progresses.

Our impression

With its original aesthetics and approach, Mato Anomalies seems to be one of its curiosities to look closely at in 2023. By placing its action in a neo-futuresite Shanghai, the title is distinguished by its unique visual identity, which gives it a real charm. Besides that, it also offers classic turn-based combat as well as mind-hacking phases that bring a bit of variety. In any case, we’ll have to wait to get our hands on the last game to see if the Arrowiz project is as promising as it looks.

Editorial Review

Promising

Mato Anomalies is scheduled to be released in 2023 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series and Switch.

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