Take Link To The Past, a David Lynch film (or any other work based on a stream-of-consciousness or dreamscape narrative) and some Nietzsche. Put them in a blender. Blend. Serve with Indie™ sprinkles. You’ve got Anodyne.
What I enjoyed:
• compact dungeons;
• card collectables;
• creative use of the graphical limitations.
What I didn’t enjoy:
• the map was more Zelda ’86 and less Link to the Past;
• floaty controls (don’t use analogue sticks, trust me);
• difficult in an awkward way, ie I was falling too much into pits and not being killed by enemies enough – also had to do with the very short invincibility window after being hit.
What I will remember:
• the ultimate broom which could be used as a weapon as well as a means to push dust on water to create a raft with;
• the Master Sword Get! moment after completing the first three dungeons (it has to do with a wind power generator);
• the philosopher bosses who always had something deep to say before and after the battle;
• the ending (which I had to fight for twice because I comically drowned after defeating the final boss the first time around);
• the humour – something we don’t see in games that often unfortunately.
I would recommend it to everyone who:
• likes Zelda, especially the 2D ones;
• enjoys short games (it won’t take you more than 5 hours);
• is bored of dry dialogue (no text is wasted in Anodyne, there are no “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” or “This is the way to the lake!” moments);
• feels comfortable with philosophy and/or poetry – the game makes little sense in terms of what we’d normally expect from the genre; it takes a mind that can grasp abstract ideas to follow what might be happening or derive enjoyment from the calm realisation that maybe what is happening doesn’t matter as much as how it’s happening;
• likes it indie (just two people worked for this. I hope, if you’re that dedicated of an indie person, that you’ll overlook the fact that the game’s main outlet has been Steam. I personally got it from some Humble Bundle and would happily share a DRM-free .exe with you if you’d like me to, but I’m sure you’d rather have the achievements, wouldn’t you?)