Anodyne is very much a homage to the past – but rather than coming across as dated, it feels more like a treasure, lost to the ages.
The Zelda-inspired RPG game sees you take the role of ‘Young’, a boy exploring a mysterious and dream-like world on his quest to rescue the ‘Legendary Briar’ from the ‘Evil Darkness’…not the deepest story seen in an RPG, but one that is helped immensely by the game’s setting.
Anodyne’s setting is perhaps where this game’s strengths lie. Each environment you explore is beautifully crafted from its eerie, yet brilliant soundtrack and its use of pixel art. Whether you’re exploring the apocalyptic ruins of a city or a hell-like swamp, the art style and music keep the tone where its meant to be: unusual, mystic and mysterious.
As mentioned before, Anodyne takes heavy inspiration from The Legend of Zelda. It’s gameplay and map-style are very similar to early Zelda titles – You make your way through a maze of adjacent screen-sized rooms whilst fighting enemies and solving puzzles. Simple gameplay that does well to build on old mechanics, without shaking things up too much.
But, and this might be a little controversial, as with older Legend of Zelda games, the gameplay can be slow at times – moving between locations or backtracking involves a lot of moving slowly between familiar environment, which while beautiful, can become old quickly. This is a small setback to an otherwise really enjoyable game.
It serves as nice throwback to how games used to be and come at it with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, which is good – it merely adds to the genre, rather than drastically changing it. It is clear that Anodyne was a passion project, rather than a means to an end.
I didn’t know what to expect when going into Anodyne, but it is an experience I’m glad I had and a game that I will definitely revisit (I can’t even imagine how many secrets are in the game that I missed!)
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*