After testing early access, Anima Flux releases its demo at STEAM Next Fest. Our feelings were not disregarded.
During the STEAM Next Fest we were able to try the Anima Flux demo. Although we had only tested an embryonic build in January 2023, expectations for the title seemed positive. Despite some roughness to be smoothed out and balancing to be done, the prerequisites for a good product were already present.
Let’s start by saying what Anima Flux is. A couch co-op metroidvania with hack ‘n’ slash elements. The co-op component is a key point to which the developers give a lot of importance.
In fact, regardless of whether we play alone or with a friend, we find ourselves with two characters on the screen. However, the screen remains shared, so as to encourage teamwork between players. The different characteristics of the two protagonists are complementary and encourage, also thanks to the level design, different approaches.
Lore and World Building
I won’t dwell too much on this and the game’s sources of inspiration. Anyone who wants can find our in-depth analysis of the game at this link.
We can briefly summarize everything with these few lines.
Humanity is almost extinct and lives in a space ark, its last stronghold. The last human city standing is constantly under attack by swarms of mutant creatures and this is where the NOX soldiers intervene. An elite troop of genetically enhanced soldiers immune to mutations, sent by a totalitarian theocratic regime to rescue survivors and eliminate mutants.
These soldiers are strong, fearless and can even cheat death. Thanks to implant technology, they can transfer their souls.
Demo and Level Design
As mentioned in the previous article, Anima Flux had a good foundation and I was looking forward to playing the real demo. I wondered if the developers would be able to add more NPCs with the resulting dialogues and new areas to explore.
The first build tested was big, with two Boss Fights and areas that were not fully explorable. We could meet several NPCs but without the possibility of lines of dialogue.
The demo, on the other hand, is more limited in exploration and has only one boss fight, but don’t be fooled. All the content is very carefully crafted and no stone is left unturned or incomplete. The area of the map played maintains the verticality and shortcuts typical of metroidvania. Furthermore, the NPCs we meet have their own lines of dialogue and enrich the story. Some are secondary and can only be reached by exploring the map well, while others give us quests to be able to continue in the demo.
The Boss Fight which, once overcome, will mark the end of the demo, is very well done and divided into different phases. It will test the player’s skills. So although the early access showed more content, the demo organized the areas better by better calibrating the map and the distribution of NPCs. The developers focus the adventure better and make the player understand the lore and world building.
Game Mechanics and Improvements
Even at the mechanical level, Anima Flux did what I expected. It solved some problems especially regarding the quantity of enemies to face and their management. Although we are literally facing a swarm of mutant insects, reducing the hordes allows us to better manage the combat and the abilities of the protagonists.
The skills available in the demo are in addition to the usual dash (which allows us to have invincibility frames), there are 3 and depend on the 4 energy triangles under the health bar.
A very powerful charged shot.
A Bursting shot that has effects depending on the two protagonists. The swordsman sprints forward which ends with a wide and powerful slash. While the archer charges a wide range shot composed of numerous arrows.
When the 4 triangles are full we can activate a Rage Mode which leads us to make powerful attacks for a short period of time.
Note how charged shots stun opponents, so as to better manage the enemies to face.
My Two Cents
The Anima Flux demo marks a good step forward from the first build we played. The area, in addition to being well explored, has NPCs with their own dialogues and quests to complete. The skills are better calibrated and the A.I. is also better. It seems well calibrated. Playing in single player allows you to switch between two characters at any time. The character managed by the C.P.U. it’s not a ball and chain, but it often proves useful in clashes. Compared to other game partners, it does not tend to suffer damage passively or to be an obstacle to be revived after each fight. The feedback of the hits has been improved, although with even more work the combat system would gain even better.
The Boss Fight is well structured even if at first glance it is quite aggressive. Even though it only took me two tries to get through it, some attacks with a lot of tracking and short reaction times to certain situations almost certainly lead to taking damage.
In this phase the A.I. presents some weak points, which can be resolved by managing the two protagonists. This is always true if you play alone.
In conclusion, Anima Flux seems to have taken the right path. The developers still have time to work and improve the experience, given that the release is scheduled for the end of 2024.
I can’t wait to play the full version! Try the demo on STEAM now.