Game Review #195: Anodyne (Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Analgesic Productions
Category: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 02.28.2019
Price (at time of review): $9.99
Buy Anodyne from the Nintendo eShop here.
Anodyne is a game that wears its inspirations on the outside, and it lucks out, because what I feel is one of the biggest inspirations is also one of my favorites! This game takes place in the subconscious of the player character, Young, and gameplay-wise, you are looking at a very Zelda-like experience. Did you guess the main inspiration yet? If you didn’t guess it yet, this game reminds me a TON of Link’s Awakening! Although there are certainly more than a few things that set this apart from that classic game that will make Anodyne an experience worth having. Let's talk a little bit more about the things that set Young’s adventure apart from the others, shall we?
A Style You Know and Love...
Like I said before, gameplay-wise, we are looking at a 2-D Zelda-like experience set in some gorgeous 16-bit graphics. Man, the graphics are GORGEOUS! From sprawling, dimly-lit forests, to hills set in front of a beautifully done backdrop that really shows the scale of the hills you are on, and even crazier locales, like abandoned crypts, destitute roads, and different dimensions! I often found myself appreciating the sprite work when it came to some enemies as well. This, along with a dreamy atmosphere, really sets this game’s mood apart visually. The sounds and music also reflect this, with crisp sound effects and surreal-sounding ambient music, as well as some higher-energy tracks that really stand out against the rest of the more mellow, somber score in the game.
Hit the Dusty Trail
This game is going to cycle between exploring the open world you find yourself in and fighting your way through dungeons while you solve puzzles in this world. I found the open world segment to be pretty huge, but I didn’t feel a ton of direction was given to find the next place I was meant to go, and instead wandered about, completing what I could until I ran into a roadblock and had to return and try another path. A minor gripe—maybe a way to extend the playtime a little—but I certainly did find myself just kind of meandering about as I tried to find the next step in the game. Once this game gets going however, it really knows what it’s doing.
The dungeons are awesome, and I really found myself digging them. Young hits this adventure hard. With a broom as his main weapon to fight against the beasties that are in his subconscious, you will damage enemies as well as pick up dust with it. What can you do with dust you ask? More than you would think! You can place dust to block attacks from the environments, as well as other things, like placing it on water and riding it around! It was an unexpected but welcomed mechanic, that is for sure!
That Boy Ain’t Right...
One of my favorite aspects of this game is that it has this generalized feeling of… dread about it. Things just seem a little off. The music is already haunting, but comments from characters—or events that transpire—just don’t feel right. It keeps you talking to every character and checking every nook and cranny to try and get to the bottom of why everything just feels off in this world. You will get glimpses further into the psyche of Young, quickly at first, but as the game ramps up, the world gets a little weirder, a little darker. The things you encounter go from slimes, bats, and dogs, to giant bushes with legs, and then even weirder as you go further.
Characters often reference things to come, or things that haven't happened yet, sometimes commenting on things that will have you scratching your head. But like a real dream, it might not all make sense in the moment—but it will! This game is PACKED with secrets, from character cards, to places to get additional life points—which are apparently living creatures you find that fly up to your health bar and embed themselves there before shedding their wings—as well as encounters with the weird denizens of this world. This game is a super interesting romp, and it kept my attention throughout. It certainly tends to drag in a few small spots that aren't super obvious on how to progress or where to go, but the world is engaging enough that you might find some secrets along the way, so it isn’t that bad. I give Anodyne a dreamy 8/10!
Buy Anodyne from the Nintendo eShop here.
Follow Analgesic Productions
*Review Code Provided by Indie Bros.