[Review] Anodyne: Odd Name, Odd Game
I’ve been covering Anodyne fairly regularly here on Twinfinite. I initially tried the first demo, which was ok, and then I was legitimately surprised by some of the later levels we were able to reveal through our TSFT Podcast. For a two man project, the game certainly looked like something worth a second glance.
Read on to see if it lived up to my expectations.
At face value, Anodyne is a tribute to Zelda: Link’s Awakening and it kinda lives up to it. While the game does many things differently than the hit Game Boy game, it does capture the basic formula very well. Many of the aesthetics feel pulled straight out of the top down Zelda’s and the dungeon diving formula is well replicated here.
Where Anodyne starts to distance itself is in the aesthetics. This is a quirky little game with many bizarre design elements that you pretty much expect out of indie developers these days. Anodyne has the ability to go to some weird places at times and really doesn’t mind doing so.
Anodyne isn’t as big as any Zelda games I know, or at least it doesn’t feel that way. This is because the game is roughly 4-6 hours long for simpler playthroughs and it’s design layout isn’t nearly as trial and error as Miyamoto’s baby. To counter this, the developers focus squarely on dungeon design and puzzle layout. The cost is that the overworld is mostly used to wander around in with few enemies to slow you while the dungeons concentrate fully on connecting the puzzles together.
This means you will be able to breeze through much of the game on auto pilot, without having to think to much about things you’ve missed or areas to explore. The portal system also makes navigating these areas a bit of a breeze. Dying also has no consequence as you restart at a check point with any trophies you died trying to collect. This would be a downfall most of the time, but games like this tend to be more about the journey than the difficulty and these guys worked really hard to craft some very nice pixel art and made sure to use it.
Each area feels different from the last and the game even throws a few curve balls to really change the looks in some of the later dungeons. Anodyne certainly doesn’t have the technicality that Nintendo threw in to Link’s inventory, but Young’s adventure goes to some really odd places due to the game’s setting. Where it misses some of the gameplay it makes up for it in just being interesting to wander through.
See Anodyne takes place inside of Young’s dream. He plays the chosen hero, who happens to wield a broom, and he is just a silent figure navigating a bizarre world. Sometimes it is a beautiful world. Other times, it can be pretty messed up. At the end of it all, it is just a crazy exploration of what these two developers could do with their game.
Diving in to Anodyne is an interesting experience and it sounds pretty good to. The music might be a bit hit or miss, but it channels many classic gaming tunes. I swear that one song sounds like it was pulled from Chrono Cross. It’s fun and a bit retro which is what you expect out of something looking like this.
Anodyne is a Zelda clone and a bizarre one at that. It might not have much of the depth that Zelda has, but it certainly makes up for it with charm. Then afterwards it gives you a tool that lets you break the charming world apart once you beat it.
While Anodyne borrows from a lot of different games, it combines itself in to something fairly unique and fun to burn through. It doesn’t make sense at all, but when the game is an exploration of a person’s dreams, you kind of expect it to go to surreal places.
Final Breakdown: Excellent
[+Solid mechanics] [+Interesting world] [+Great pixel art] [+Good music] [-A bit short]