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Review

Anodyne (Switch eShop) Review

by April 16, 2019

I had a tough time playing Anodyne. On the surface it’s got a very Zelda: Link’s Awakening kind of aesthetic, complete with non-widescreen ratio, yet differentiates itself with a more twisted, surreal tone. And while the visual design looks charming and the mechanics feel good, I often found myself feeling either drowsy from an unstimulating world or being confused by not understanding what I’m meant to do. That said, I still appreciate a lot of what it’s doing.

The adventure stars Young, a silent protagonist armed with a broom, who travels between dreamlike versions of caves, dilapidated urban streets, swamps and even otherworldly dimensions, among others. Young is tasked with collecting cards based on the various characters/creatures that are introduced throughout the game, and the amount of cards collected allow access to certain areas. Some cards are handed out via NPCs, some are found in dungeons or others are obtained after defeating a boss.


Anodyne’s environments are connected across its overworld, though fixed portals can be discovered which teleport Young to the Nexus, a dimension connecting the overworld’s portals. This makes returning through the wider areas of the game’s world much easier. Though, there’s the issue of back-tracking some of the smaller environments, which can be an arduous task given how scant the world is of anything particularly notable. Often I would try exploring areas I hadn’t visited yet, only to find the paths led to dead ends, devoid of any reason for having gone there in the first place. Which is disappointing given its explicit inspiration from games like the aforementioned Link’s Awakening, which is littered with interesting characters, places and rewards.

And then there are some of the issues I have with traversal; Young is given the ability to jump early on in the game, but even many hours in I still struggle to nail the feel of the jumps, and find myself landing in spikes or falling into pits. However, combat feels pretty tight with the upgradable broom. Some enemies were a little frustrating to defend against, such as dogs, but eventually Young’s health bar is increased so much that it doesn’t really remain a problem.

What I did love though was the atmosphere; Anodyne’s tone is uncomfortably eerie, in a satisfying way. Things often just don’t feel right, which kept me interested and engaged with the game’s visual and aural aesthetics. Some creatures seemed ripped right out something like The Dark Crystal, while others just moved in a surreal manner that made them untrustworthy. I was impressed with how a 16-bit-looking game could do achieve this, despite the minimal (lacking?) narrative.

The visual direction has a very quirky kind of charm, and remains consistent across the game. But for whatever reason I did encounter random moments of framerate dips, which really stood out in the (intentionally) primitive graphic style, particularly during moments of dialogue.



Anodyne takes a bit to get into, but becomes more interesting once the tone and setting sinks in. It might not be for everyone though and you may find yourself confused for the first few hours, but letting go of typical adventure game logic might be enough to let you dive into the mystery and dreamlike nature of its world.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Good

- Surreal
- Nice visual style
- Simple combat

The Bad

- Confusing
-Jump mechanic is frustrating
- I got lost a whole bunch

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Anodyne takes a bit to get into, but becomes more interesting once the tone and setting sinks in. It might not be for everyone though and you may find yourself confused for the first few hours, but letting go of typical adventure game logic might be enough to let you dive into the mystery and dreamlike nature of its world.

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About The Author
Angelo Valdivia

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