The Dark Souls series is an extremely popular game franchise that is infamous for its brutal difficulty, methodical combat, and merciless boss fights. I especially loved the series' "spin-off", Bloodborne on the Playstation 4. As usual, I enjoy discovering games on the App Store that are similar to some of my favorite games on console or PC. Luckily, Animus- Stand Alone [$7.99] proudly wears its Dark Souls/Bloodborne inspirations on its sleeve! Many people believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let's see if this saying holds true, shall we?

Animus is set in a dark and dreary world where everything wants you dead, whether it be scorpion-like monsters or a gigantic black knight wielding a shield and sword that are almost as large as himself. Your main goal is to escape this horrible place (or die trying) by defeating various groups of enemies, as well as several bosses. Fortunately, you have a friendly and informative guide named Lethe to help give you hints/tips on how to persevere through the numerous dangerous situations you find yourself in.

As soon as I booted up the game, I could immediately tell that the graphics of Animus are top-notch and thoroughly detailed. I really appreciated seeing the glint of the sun on my armor and the intricate designs of various armor pieces, weapons, and enemies. The aesthetics of Animus give off a strong Dark Souls vibe and I love it. The sounds of clashing metal, the clinking of heavy chain mail, and the disturbing screams of enemies all added further depth and detail to the game's beautiful visuals. However, it's important to note that these visuals come at a cost to your device's battery. You need to make sure to turn down the graphical settings of the game if you want to conserve your battery, especially if you are playing the game on a phone.

Animus is divided into several sections of levels that contain different enemies, bosses, and potential loot drops. Loot drops can come in the form of gear, weapons, currency, and materials. Gear can cause drastic changes to gameplay, as well as the look of your character. It will feel completely different when you use a spear, in comparison to a sword. Equipment in the game has different stats that attribute to their own strengths/weaknesses. Currency and materials are used to level up your existing gear. Animus' loot system feels a lot like the loot system of a Monster Hunter game, where you can find yourself in the addicting loop of grinding for specific materials and gear to become stronger. The stronger you get, the stronger bosses you will be able to defeat. I love the Monster Hunter series and this was an added bonus for me.

Choosing to not have an open world is one aspect in which Animus strays a little bit away from the Dark Souls formula. However, I think this is a perfect deviation for the game to make since it can facilitate shorter play sessions, depending on how much time you have on your hands. Either way, you will be making progress towards more loot, better gear, and harder levels/bosses.

Each level takes around 5-10 mins to complete. You will encounter small hordes of weaker enemies that each have different move sets and behaviors. Their move sets and behaviors need to be learned and memorized for future encounters. Bosses will be waiting for you at the end of each level and each one is unique. This is where the game truly shines. I felt like I was constantly improving my skills at the game and learning how to defeat these difficult bosses. It was rewarding to finally defeat a difficult boss (that previously kicked my butt) after becoming better as a player.

The combat of Animus feels heavy and impactful. It is a bit faster-paced than the combat of Dark Souls but it still scratches the same itch. You have the ability to heal, block, dash, and combo two different types of attacks. As you land blows on enemies, a special ability meter will charge up. You can use different attacks once you activate this ability and it changes up your combat style significantly. I had to learn when certain situations required me to use each of these actions and I was severely punished for any missteps. Its the survival of the fittest in Animus. You must adapt or die.

Fortunately, the controls did not hamper combat in any significant ways. The buttons are responsive and their specific layout makes sense. When I died I knew it was my fault. However, I must say that something feels a little off with the joystick. It's a bit "floaty" and doesn't seem to be as responsive or accurate as the rest of the game's controls, especially on my iPad (2017). I didn't notice this problem as much on my phone but it is still present. It could be due to my personal preferences but I figured I would mention it nonetheless. Just keep in mind that the controls are still great.

All in all, I have sincerely enjoyed my time with Animus- Stand Alone. It exemplifies the aspects that make the Dark Souls franchise so fun while condensing them down into a near-perfect package for mobile. The grind for cool-looking gear was a blast and I enjoyed feeling myself get stronger/better as a player. Animus- Stand Alone is currently the closest you will get to Dark Souls on mobile and it deserves to be commended for that fact alone. I highly suggest you give the game a look and feel free to check out other people's impressions of Animus- Stand Alone in the game's forum thread.

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TouchArcade Rating

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  • brantov

    great review, great game

  • Tom

    Just to help others searching for the sane answer as its not addressed in the post - the dev has confirmed both on the app store and the thread that the game supports MFi controllers

    • Ronsonn Swandom

      But its not full support, i have to pull my blanket off and lean forward to skip the REPEATABLE boss cutscenes

  • Aaron C

    Is this game just a premium version of Ire Blood Memory? Or is this a different game?

    • dudewelcome

      Different game altogether

      • Aaron C

        How are the two linked? Is this a sequel?

      • M.W.

        It is a supplemental game to Ire - Blood Memory. You play as Morgan the Pilgrim.

  • Juju Van Guéret

    Are you kidding me? This game is basically Ire blood memory but they changed the camera and made it offline. Then they try to cash out. I'm happy and furious at the same time. Furious because it's 90% IRE but interface and camera changed. No creativity, level are the same, everything the same. Seriously it's genius! "Guys we need a way to make some money" "well boss, make expansion 3?" No way, just change the camera and sell it as a new game.
    Then I'm happy because at least it is offline and you can keep your character. I nvested so much time in this game that I stopped because réalisés it was online and one day server will go down and loose all i did. But now it's different story and unfortunately I think I know the game to much to start everything again with a simple camera change.

  • Ronsonn Swandom

    How is this game getting a single positive review?
    -No maps. Every level is just an arena with walls. Maybe a narrow path you walk down occasionally
    -$8 and has microtransactions. $8 is the price of real AAA games ported to mobile.
    -Combat is NOT DYNAMIC. You can dodge an attack, watch the attack miss by a mile, and you still take damage because the combat is all scripted
    -Game saves before cutscenes
    -No full MFI controller support. It works but the buttons are abysmally placed. I have to stop playing, get up, and press the skip custscene button on my ipad

    Seriously it blows my mind how a single person can give this game a rating of more than 1 star

    • TheKindMind

      Highly disagree. The review clearly said how it boils down the Dark Souls formula into a concise mobile package. Exploration isn’t a big part of the game and it doesn’t need large maps. Now to address your concerns about the combat: Get good. Plain and simple. I’ve had none of the problems that you have said about it’s Combat. As for the micro transactions, I had no idea they were even there until very far through the game. They aren’t needed at all.

  • TheKindMind

    Great review! Very detailed too. Pretty much agree with it in its entirety.

  • treskatae

    Jesus touch arcade is a joke

  • immortal gamer65005

    This game is not available in playstore

Animus - Stand Alone Reviewed by Wayne Skabelund on . Rating: 4.5