Developer: Analgesic Productions
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $9.99 (Buy Here)
I think that Anodyne would be best described as a game that joins the mechanics of The Legend of Zelda with a kind of creepy and dark setting. The game is developed by a group called Analgesic Productions, who are an independent developer. The game, at the moment, can be found on the Desura market which is a marketplace for independently developed game series’.
Is this game a fitting Zelda clone? Is it a good game in general? Make up your own mind by reading on ahead.
The story in Anodyne is a bit basic. You must traverse through the mind of the white-haired character Young and conquer puzzles, challenges and dungeons. You will also meet a variety of strange characters that seem to be not entirely all there, or are some kind amalgamation of un-nature.
The story is told mostly through what the player can pick up from the world around them, as well as from the brief hints that NPCs display when you chat them up in the rare instances that they appear. I quite like the way that the game doesn’t force exposition on you as it leaves the player free to come up with their own theories as to why the world is the way that it is. What’s even weirder is the way that a lot of scenes in the game can twist the way you observe the story from a players perspective. For instance, there is this one area where you’re going through and there are all these wild animals that you can talk to. But then you go into this nearby cave and there are a bunch of mindless humans walking around like some kind of herd. Creepy stuff.
Have you played any of the 2D Zelda games before? If so, then this game will be incredibly familiar to you from the moment you start. However, if you haven’t, then this game may seem a little foreign considering the current video game climate.
Basically, much like Zelda, the world is cut into segments and whenever the player reaches the end of a segment, the game pans you into a new segment to explore. This means that the game is able to render more things at once, but only for that particular segment. Of course, this kind of thinking should be obsolete considering that a PC from even 10 years ago would be quadruple the power needed to run this kind of game.
Early on in the game, the player finds themselves in need of a weapon to defend themselves from the world around them. What’s a better weapon than a broom? Mechanically speaking, the broom is as trusty as a sword would be in other games and from a players perspective it adds a bit of comedy into a game that could be interpreted as quite creepy.
What I didn’t like from a gameplay perspective is that some of the more, platformier parts were a bit unfair. I remember this one point where you jump over this chasm and there are two frogs waiting for you right where you land. Now you have two options for losing health here. The first is that you can land on the frog and hit it until it dies, sucking away your health as you do. Or two, you can land in front of the frog, hit it with your broom and then fall into a hole. Both options cost you the same number of health, but one of them see’s you running back from the entrance of the segment. Not cool.
The game also features puzzles for the player to work out. Some of these can be quite odd. For instance, there are some puzzles where you need to defeat a group of enemies to unlock something, only some of the enemies will be in a cordoned off area requiring you to change rooms. However, this goes against game mechanics as enemies usually regenerate between areas. Having the game rules change for certain puzzles is quite confusing and by changing the rules of the game, it leaves the player feeling confused and cheated.
Overall though, the gameplay is pretty solid. Not quite the Zelda clone you were expecting, but good enough to leave you with the Zelda feeling.
What I thought was much more odd than the archaic (but still pretty cool) segmented design was the fact that the developers had arranged the play field and field of view much like a game that would be found on a smartphone. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this game was designed for a smartphone at the planning phase, but was moved to the PC because it is clearly the superior platform.
The game has a visual fidelity of classic 16-bit RPGs and are very reminiscent of the Super Nintendo. However, I have to note that it seems like some of the sprites used in the game are very similar to sprites from games like Chrono Trigger and the like. Not saying they were lifted, but if you played those games, this title will feel very familiar to you.
For a game like this, the soundtrack really needed to be above par to make it work to its best. And for the most part, the soundtrack is okay, but it never really approaches the level of excellence needed to carry this title and make it as memorable an experience as the games it keys itself off of. Anodyne will always feel like an imitation of greater games and the soundtrack is the reason behind this.
It’s not that it’s a bad game, nor is it that the soundtrack sucks. It’s just an okay clone of much better games. Soundtrack was a key element of the games it borrows its identity from and it’s like it didn’t even bother to pick up the piece that was most important to those games.
Anodyne is a pretty interesting old-school style action RPG in the same vein as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. However due to some design choices, I can’t help but think of this as only a decent imitation of a superior game. It isn’t a bad games by any means and it is certainly strong enough to stand up on its own. But if you’ve played the games that Anodyne use as a creative reference then you’ll certainly prefer them to this.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.