Reviewing the indie darling released in the beginning of 2013.
Ooo boy I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Anodyne.
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Anodyne. I Don’t Have Time For This Nonsense.
- Genre: Top Down Adventure and Puzzle Game.
- Developed & Published by: Analgesic Productions
- Platform: Windows and Mac.
- Business Model: Base Game
- Copy Purchased by Myself
As time passes by, I’ve grown increasingly intolerant of games like Anodyne. I’m tired of games with the mechanical depth of kiddie pools that sell themselves as hugely deep experiences. These titles that think they’re saying something profound when most of the time I’m just bored by the subtext. It’s nonsense. It’s tiresome nonsense that Anodyne finds itself in. That does color my review a bit but I do think that I point out the troubles this game has well enough to talk about it. So, let’s talk.
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
Anodyne is billed as action adventure title tied with surreal and horror elements. With its 2D top-down view, the comparisons to a certain other franchise are easy to make. But look past the surface and you’ll find anything but. Anodyne is a game that’s hard to have fun with. The combat system is abrasively simple, if you can get the finicky controls to work with you. Besides moving around and a short jump, all you’ve got is a single weapon. Said weapon is a broom that acts like a sword and can only be “swept” in the direction you’re facing. You have no AOE attacks or ranged capabilities which makes your broom’s incredibly short reach aggravating. This creates some really problematic situations with both regular enemies (who take a heart a hit and will knock you back) and and boss battles. I should mention that boss fights are very basic. Just find the one place they won’t be able to hit you with their highly predictable attacks and bash them over the head until they die. Rinse and repeat as often as necessary. Do, however, expect to restart often just to get past a couple of fights. I don’t know what else I can say about this system other than it’s awful and basic. There’s no enjoyment to be found in it. Just as there’s little joy to be found in the dungeon crawling.
The majority of the game is puzzle solving which involves a ton of walking around and hoping you stumble upon the right switch or key to get through a door you couldn’t get past. Then walk back to that door and continue rinsing and repeating this process till you’ve gotten through the entire game. While collecting the 48 photographs of enemies you need to finish the game. Exploration is lacking because there’s no monetary system nor can you acquire new items to enhance your character. All you can do is look at the pixelart and survive long enough to make it to the next save point. A lot of the time its just slogging it through normal enemies in long battles of attrition through fights or dungeons.
The story is this: Young, you must save >insert vague mention of land/mythical object here< from an >insert ominous vague evil here<! Now go through this door and just do it! That’s basically the best that the game ever explains itself. You’re main goal is to find 48 photographs of enemies either by defeating them or finding them in treasure chests. Then, you win the game. That’s it. Of course, getting to those photographs requires getting through a whole lot of dungeons but you’re not even given the basic reasons to do this other than to do it. No princess in another castle or interesting characters to get attached to. Truly, the characters are the worst part about Anodyne. There’s only a couple of recurring characters who don’t have any personality and very limited agency in the game. They simply show up, say a few lines at you and then leave. None of the dialogue really cements that you should care. Just do it and get your achievements already.
Legend of Zelda Comparisons
Having played all of the Gameboy Legend of Zelda titles multiple times over, I can say this with absolute certainty: the comparison of Anodyne being like Legend of Zelda is a terrible one. Andoyne’s combat system is extremely stripped down, there’s no interesting story or colorful characters. Probably the only comparison that works is the dungeon crawling/puzzles. Those at least feel very similar to each other, even if they don’t feel particularly good in Anodyne. Do not go into Anodyne with the expectation that this is a Legend of Zelda clone. It’s not. Consider this, at best, an experimental 2D indie “horror” game with some inspirations from previous action/adventure titles of times gone by.
Abysmal PC Support
Andoyne’s PC support is abysmally bad. There’s only one resolution that the game is set to and it’s some smartphone portrait resolution. There’s no way to change it either, outside of making it run in stretched, windowed or fullscreen mode with scaling up to 5X. Controller support doesn’t work or is incredibly finicky to get running. I couldn’t get it to run and neither could quite a few people on the Steam community forums. That’s inexcusable considering the genre of game we’re talking about here. Keyrebinding is possible but it makes you set all of the keys at once so if you screw up a key, you have to do it all over again. The game’s menu isn’t mouse driven, so, have fun with that. The framerate is locked to 30FPS and it will quite often fall below 30FPS. No idea why. Oh and you can only have one save game at a time. Why? Who knows, I guess save games take up too much space. There’re a multitude of bugs and problems mentioned on PCGamingWiki that haven’t been fixed either. The poor PC support, the framerate problems and other issues are enough on their own to not recommend this game.
Graphics are pixelated art pieces that use very reddish/dreary colors. While it gives Anodyne a distinct look, I found it to be overly samey and dreary to look at, so I don’t particularly like the style. Audio is a very moody and calm electronic soundtrack but I found it to be unmemorable at best. Overly repetitive at worst. There’s a single audio slider for the volume. The UI is….ok but the lack of mouse control can be confusing/annoying to deal with at times.
I don’t have the time or patience for this nonsense anymore. Anodyne is certainly a different twist on the usual RPG affair with its moody atmosphere and unusual visuals. But the gameplay is puddle-deep and extremely repetitive. Controls feel far too loose/unresponsive for how much precision the game sometimes demands. Additionally, don’t be fooled by the comparisons to Legend of Zelda either, Anodyne isn’t even in the same ballpark. The most that it picks up from Zelda is dungeon crawling/puzzle solving but even that’s fairly samey/dull to get through. The bosses are poorly designed, the combat is dull at best and there’s no story or interesting characters to speak of. The world itself is just a dreary place of misery and poorly written angst. None of this is fun to play or experience. Pass on this.
Thanks for reading!