Developer: Analgesic Productions (Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka)
Platforms: (Microsoft Windows PC) (Mac) (Linux)
Release Date: Feb. 4th, 2013
Genre: Action Adventure RPG
Players: Single Player
Regular Price: $10 USD
Like many of you, I am a massive Legend of Zelda fan. So when I heard that an indie title called Anodyne was being released and that it follows the same formula as the classic Nintendo franchise, my curiosity got the better of me. After giving the game an unexpected nostalgic filled playthrough, I can say with confidence that Anodyne truly delivers, and it does it with a bit of satire mixed in.
Game Summary – From Developers
Anodyne is an adventure game that focuses on immersing the player through a combination of 16-bit era visual and audio aesthetics, Zelda-esque action adventure gameplay mechanics, and exploration of the human Young’s dream world, which contains urban, natural, and abstract themed areas.
The player moves between rooms 160×160 pixels in size, an intended constraint that we used to create the monster-filled dungeons you will navigate and the set of nature-based (and sometimes stranger) places you will explore.
Anodyne was made by Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka – Sean focuses on programming and audio, while Jon focuses on writing and art.
Soundtrack: Sean wrote the soundtrack which includes 70+ minutes of music. It is purchasable at seagaia.bandcamp.com .
Anodyne has a very unique story where the player really has no idea what is going on for the majority of the game. This is due to the game only hinting at what is happening at key moments, which is usually after a boss fight or difficult puzzle. The story is rather trippy and filled with satirical references to other games and popular media. It is definitely worth a playthrough. My only gripe is that I felt very disconnected from the story most of the time and wished that it would leave more breadcrumbs for me to follow. I do have to add that Anodyne does a great job at moving its atmosphere between funny, exciting, horrifying, and a whole mess more.
Anodyne begins with simple obstacles that allow the player to adjust to the game’s controls. You run about the massive landscape while solving puzzles, traversing dungeons, fighting unique bosses, and following the legendary Zelda trope of collecting items to continue forward. The game really lets off a Link’s Awakening vibe, but the difficulty level is very different.
As mentioned above, Anodyne starts out with easy puzzles and weak enemies, and this is great for an introduction to any series. It is upon completing the first dungeon that you begin to realize that this is not a game to take lightly. The puzzles quickly increase in difficulty, as do the common enemies and bosses. However, it is this difficulty level that really drew me into Anodyne. It does not follow the recently common trope of giving the player a free ride through the game with little fear of failure. Instead, it holds your hand through the opening sequence then shouts a loud ‘GOOD LUCK!’ as it pushes you through the door to the next area. Kudos to the developers for doing this.
Now the game is difficult but it is not impossible or unfair. There are more than enough save points scattered throughout the land (Usually near anything that might cause you a quick death) and you respawn at them after dying. So you never really have any opportunity for a rage fit since your too busy going through a gauntlet of challenges that exercises your mind and reflexes.
Anodyne’s controls are very solid and entirely keyboard based (The devs. are working on adding a gamepad option). You are able to move in all directions and will find that diagonal jump puzzles are not as rare as you might think. Attacking in the game is as simple as pressing the ‘C’ key and you can change your weapon in the options menu by pressing ‘Enter.’ This easy setup allows you to easily sweep through enemies (‘Heh,’ had to say it) without too much trouble.
I did find two issues with the controls that still bother me. The options menu, entered by pressing ‘ESC,’ is a bit irritating to navigate through since you have little indication of which option you are selecting (Would love to see the currently selected option being highlighted). I also had a common problem with my character locking up and refusing to move for a few seconds. The movement problem happened on two separate computers, so I am pretty sure that it is an issue with the game. The character freezing like this is a huge issue in a game that relies so heavily on split second reactions.
Anodyne was meant to appear and sound as a 16-bit era game, and it certainly accomplished this goal. If you have any love for the old Super Nintendo action adventure and RPG classics, than this game is a love letter straight to you. I couldn’t find a single fault with anything graphically
Much like the graphics, the music and sound effects in Anodyne are top quality for a 16-bit styled title. The music definitely fits the mood of the game and is really quite enjoyable in a retro sort of way. However, there are many occasions where repeating sounds in some areas get on my nerves. Hearing the same annoying tune or note over and over can really break the mood. Fortunately it has never has pushed me to the point where I would consider turning off the game.
Fun Factor: A+
A simple question to ask yourself is “Do you enjoy Zelda and/or solving puzzles?” If you answered ‘Yes’ to either of these than this game is right in your alley. I just about exploded from enjoyment after playing this game for 5 minutes. Anodyne is really a top-notch indie title and I highly recommend you give it a try.
Anodyne has been Greenlit on Steam and will soon be available there for purchase. You can also buy the game at these sites right this moment:
Please leave your opinions of Anodyne in the comment section below. Thank you for reading and take care!