Anodyne 2: Return to Dust
Publisher: Ratalaika Games.
Developer: Analgesic Prodctions.
Release Date: 18th February 2021
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Size : 830 MB
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Screenshots: Captured on Xbox Series X
Most readers might not remember Anodyne 1, released 8 years ago on PC and mobile and eventually making its way to Playstation and Switch in 2018 and 2019.
Anodyne 2 doesn’t require any experience of the previous game, but you will need a fond memory of the 1990’s era of gaming of which Anodyne 2 is very strongly set.
You control Nova, a being with the Ant-Man inspired skill to shrink down faster than Rick Moranis can tell us he’s shrunk the kids again.
After being by the centre, you find out that New Theland is being overrun by Nano-Dust and as the local recovery agent, you’re tasked with travelling into the orifices of local inhabitants to cleanse them of dust. You’ll then transport the dust back to Cenote (the central city of the world) to harness its energy to push back the infectious dust.
Anodyne 2 mostly revolves around two gameplay styles, 3D, inspired very clearly by early PSOne and N64 titles, and a top-down era of games like Zelda, there’s also various other aspects such as the rythym-action mini-game and a handful of small side-scrolling sections as well as the ability to change into a vehicle to traverse New Theland quicker.
Manoeuvring through the 3D world is a mixture of exploration and platforming sections, often infected inhabitants are a little tough to find so you’ll need to ask around other locals to get pointers oh where you need to be heading. When you find the infected inhabitants, you fire your magical spark gun, to enter the rhythm game which allows you to shrink down to size and ‘teleport’ inside them.
Once inside this is where you’ll find the Zelda inspired top-down sections, as you manoeuvre through, sucking up dust and picking up blocks and strange blobs with a vacuum weapon, to fire them around to complete small puzzles to progress.
Soon enough, you’ll be back in the 3D world, where you can return to the centre to deposit the dust you’ve collected, before heading out to search for more infected citizens.
The gameplay is smooth but basic, the developers have done a fantastic job of making the game consistent with the mid 90’s era, but on the flip side, this means animations are awful, camera controls are clunky and sound is pretty basic.
I love retro games that fill you with nostalgia, but I prefer to see a hybrid of new technology, such as modern-day visuals with retro gameplay, or retro graphics with new features that wouldn’t have been possible 25 years ago. Anodyne 2 doesn’t quite get the appeal of such a hybrid and it looks and plays just like you imagine, which will certainly appeal to some, but the screenshots alone are unlikely to appeal to many people who aren’t in or approaching their thirties.
Anodyne 2 certainly sticks close to its roots, and if you’re looking to recreate the bygone era of awful-looking games, then you’re in for a treat.
The mixture of genres and styles does work incredibly well and while there’s a few control niggles, it’s difficult to be too critical when it’s clearly not trying to be more than it is.
The audio of the game is pretty mixed, the background music is one of the better areas of the game, but with few sound effects and no voices (or even voice “sounds” the often lengthly conversations that you need to endure to find out where you’re going, are silent and lifeless.
Value is another area that struggles to appeal, there are so many indie games available on the Xbox, ranging from as low as a few pounds.
At £19.99, Anodyne 2 feels pretty steep, when titles like Moonlighter offer a similarly retro vibe, modern-day twists and all-round better gameplay for a lower price.
If you want to recreate early PSOne and N64 experiences, then Anodyne 2 is certainly worth looking at, but many, like me will struggle to see the appeal of intentionally dated gameplay and graphics at this price.