Anodyne
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10
Protagonist Young

Anodyne is a top-down, 2D dungeon crawler and while trying to get into it as much as possible, the game often fails to make any sense whatsoever. After hours of play and being little to no clue about the game direction the player is tempted to simply quit. Yet, strangely its addictive pull keeps a gamer from departing time and time again. Anodyne already has some interested recommendations having received an honourable mention in the Independent Games Festival 2013 Student Competition so there must be something to it, right?

For the most part you explore, searching for cards in chests which are used to unlock gates. To find these chests you must sometimes solve puzzles to get the cards, other times it's just a matter of an alternative route. The exploration will keep you amused on this game for hours, even though there's only one thing you're searching for [Cards] it is quite addicting, and I enjoyed it. Within some areas is a button marked with a 'C' it represents a checkpoint so you don't have to restart the entire area again. It is a really nice feature and should help you with raging if you do die. Anytime you re-enter an area though despite the checkpoints, everything is reset, the enemies, dust that you might have rearranged, etc. It is good in the aspect you can restart a puzzle if you lose a piece of dust. There isn't anything bad with that at all, the enemies are not at all difficult to defeat. It does not reset if the puzzle is completed and the gate is opened, only the enemies within that area respawn. There is the graceful feature of a map at the top of the screen, so you can easily manoeuvre your way around dungeons and big areas, as long as you're previously discovered them, it will add them to the map.

The story just isn't even there. I can give them credit for not trying to go too deep and plot twisty with it, but really it is atrocious. You control 'Young' a white haired character with really nothing about him, just like the story and the rest: he's there, deal with it, and play as him. The plot is not something I can get deep into as you are tasked with destroying the darkness. But to do this 'Young' must find Briar before the darkness does. And that is basically the entire plot of the game. Story in a nutshell: Very, very poor. Could have been a lot better. Story score: 3

The visuals could also have been a lot better, take The binding of Isaac for an example, They could have made them slightly worse than that game and it would've been bearable to gaze at it for a few hours. But they're so bad it is not possible to make out enemies, especially because the game doesn't give any explanation anyway as to what the enemies are, you can make out bats for example, others I, once again, can't explain. This may have been intended to make the players experience nauseous and if it was, it succeeded but good visuals enhance the players experience, not sickness. Visuals in a nutshell: Blurry and hard to make most of the characters out. Visuals score: 3


Something actually okay about the game is the music. It is good for how it suits each area but can leave you, as stated before, nauseous in some areas. The first dungeon for instance is dull and makes you feel really upset and it accomplishes in that regard. I personally don't like music that only fits the game, because this isn't something I want to listen to throughout the course of my play-through. The music loops quickly as well so it gets tiring quickly.  Audio in a nutshell: Probably better off without the addition of music. Music score: 5.5

The combat isn't terribly bad either. Unarmed, you search for a weapon and find a broom...yes. You use this broom to 'sweep' your enemies which in early stages consists of red blobs and bats and in later stages consists of enemies that are too blurry and look so strange I can't find anything even in a deranged world that could describe them. With your broom you can kill all enemies, yes, but there's some times where defeating them is a puzzle and with the top down style it's difficult to know where you can get hit and can't. One of the combat puzzles, for example, you must rearrange dust with your broom to block the enemies shooting rays at you. In one instance of this I had two buttons to open a gate and two robotic spiders, since the spiders have armour, I had to push one of the spiders on to the button and I had to stand on the other one, then the gate opened, which sent me another puzzle. It's not as bad as it sounds. Each enemy has different weaknesses, they're not described which is always a good thing and it's even more of a good thing since the weaknesses aren't difficult to wrap your head around. Bats will fly around you so you can spam your broom and turn them into dust! Robotic spiders [I think, difficult to make out] have red lights at the top of them indicating the weak spot, attacking them anywhere else emits a metal clanking sound [You have a broom right?] which is the armour. I've already given you too much information on enemies weaknesses. Also, if I remember correctly the only weapon in the game is a broom, no swords, no bows. Combat in a nutshell: Not deep, but acceptable. Combat score: 6

By now you're probably asking yourselves, 'The game seems hit and miss, should I buy it?' The answer is of course personal, although you might be surprised to hear me say, give it a try. It has a low price and offers a somewhat unique and very much indie style gaming experience that will get you addicted if you give it long enough and let it wash over you for what it is. And it may well surprise you as you realise you are actually enjoying it for its quirkiness. And that my friends is where the surprising 7.5 comes from.

Eat dust!...Literally