Preview: Mato Anomalies is a Promising Investigative JRPG

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A private detective named Doe has been set up, and now his life is in danger.

Luckily for him, an information broker named Nightshade has had him swept up before he could come to harm. But now she wants him to do her a favour. And so off he goes to investigate some strange goings on at the harbour. That’s the premise of Mato Anomalies, an intriguing JRPG coming to PC and consoles in 2023.

We’ve had our hands on a short preview of Mato Anomalies, giving us a taste of its narrative, its combat and gameplay. And it’s safe to say that we’re well and truly intrigued. Being introduced to the story through the eyes of Doe, it soon comes to pass that forces are using alternative dimensions called Lairs to smuggle goods – in this case a substance called HANDOUT. But these Lairs are also filled with Bane Tide; monsters that feed on extreme human emotions. Needless to say, Doe has found himself in a bad place, but luckily a mysterious swordsman is there who saves his bacon.

He’s Gram, and he’s sworn to take down the Bane Tide. If not, Jade Lion will appear in the real world. But what’s the connection between HANDOUT and the Bane Tide? Why are those distributing it using Lairs? That’s for you to find out.

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It’s safe to say that Mato Anomalies‘ story is rich and complex. There’s a lot to get to grips with, and the demo we’ve played through has only scraped the surface. Regardless, we can’t wait to find out more. Playing Mato Anomalies means controlling Doe as he follows leads in Neo City. There are investigations to follow through with, each one unravelling more gripping narrative.

When it comes to combat, you’ll instead take control of Gram as he battles through Lairs in an attempt to overcome the Bane Tide. Doe isn’t capable of fighting for himself, you see, and so he’ll be glad of Gram’s help. Combat is reminiscent of the likes of Final Fantasy; it’s turn-based, with actions and skills being chosen from a list. You’ll need to employ tactics to come out on top of trickier battles, having to consider the likes of turn order and the fact that more powerful skills have cool downs.

Alongside turn-based battles, there’s also a card game-style activity to become involved in. You see, Doe has a special glove given to him by Gram’s android, SkyEye, which allows him to hack people’s minds. Doing this involves selecting certain cards to beat down opponents, in turn lowering their mental power. When that mental power reaches zero, you can hack into their heads.

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We’ve only had a taster of this card game, and we’re hoping that there’s a better tutorial provided in Mato Anomalies‘ full release. It’s one of many interesting elements that make up the game, though: this is the type of title that’s hard to pigeonhole into a genre. There’s a mixture of investigation, old-school JRPG, card battler and visual novel, and they all combine to make a game full of promise.

We can’t wait to play more, but we’re confident Mato Anomalies is a game worth keeping on your watch list if you have any interest in JRPGs with a difference.

Mato Anomalies is scheduled to release on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC in 2023.