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Anodyne 2 is the best 2019 game you (probably) aren't playing

Mugman

Member
Oct 27, 2017
507
This is my first thread, so let's get the flashy, sorta lazy comparisons to other games out of the way first - Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is 50% Mega Man Legends by way of Psychonauts, 40% Link's Awakening-style puzzle solving inside of "dungeons", 10% other surprises that I'd really rather not spoil, all wrapped up in the existential pain of Nier: Automata and the quirky characters of Earthbound or Undertale. Phew, that was actually one of the most convoluted things I've ever had to write. If you're still with me and intrigued, here's a trailer that will possibly just confuse you even more!


Despite how many words I had to use to give the elevator pitch for Anodyne 2, its structure is actually pretty simple to understand. You explore a 3D overworld that is evoking Playstation 1 era visuals and mood, searching for characters to clean dust out of. To cleanse them, you shrink down and enter their psyches, where the 3D overworld is replaced by overhead Gameboy-era visuals for puzzle solving. Weird, it's almost like putting in the effort to describe what a game actually is is much easier than trying to compare it to others if I try hard enough.

From the very start, the game itself tells you that it's about life. If you're here for a gameplay challenge, you're not going to find much of one; you have no health in the 3D portion of the game, and checkpoints and health are abundant in the 2D sections. It's a game that wants to be fully experienced and heard, to the point that a walkthrough written by the developers is accessible on the title screen of the game. But if you want to get lost on your own in the weirdly beautiful low poly landscapes of the game, you absolutely can. Turning into a car as I jumped back on the highway (because yeah you can transform into a car), sun setting over the sparse environment and music dynamically changing, evoked a sense of mystery and nostalgia so strong in me that I didn't know I was capable of feeling them. It's the most haunted I've been by a game since Nier: Automata, and I don't invoke that title lightly.



If you feel like I've been tippity-tapping out a lot of words about the game without actually going much into the specifics, it's because I truly don't want to spoil anything. The game effortlessly switches genres multiple times beyond what I've already described, all while playing on your expectations of what the game is and the rules dictated by each layer of abstraction. But to say much beyond that is doing a disservice to the game, the people who made it, and anyone that's potentially going to buy it based off of my ramblings. But I was completely in love with every moment and character in the world, to the point where I beat the whole 10 hour game in two sittings (something I rarely ever do anymore). If you're a fan of Earthbound and/or Undertale, I think this game is for you more than anyone.





I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing soundtrack, potentially my favorite of the year so far. It's all very alien and otherworldly, yet mostly calm and soothing. It's all purchasable off of Steam and Bandcamp; headphones definitely recommended.

Anodyne 2: Return to Dust Original Soundtrack



As of this posting, Anodyne 2 is available on PC, Mac and Linux, and I have absolutely no idea if there are any plans to bring it to consoles. The first game eventually made it to everything, so there's probably a chance it'll go elsewhere. But honestly, if you were compelled to read all the way down here and own a PC, it can probably run the game. Oh, and speaking of the first Anodyne, you absolutely don't need to play it to enjoy 2. I know because I haven't yet, despite owning it on Steam for years! Look, it's next on my list to play after Astral Chain, ok?

And because I haven't embedded enough media yet, here's the Giant Bomb Quick Look that was uploaded shortly before I started writing this thread!


If this thread has done anything, I hope it changes the way you think about life. Or get you to consider playing Anodyne 2. It's just 20 dollars. Come on, I need other people to talk about this game with.

 

The Woods

The way out is through
Administrator
Oct 25, 2017
4,114
I've been meaning to pick up the first one for ages, and the sequel looks just incredible. I know the follow-up isn't direct, but i'd still like to play them in order. It's very high on my list, as is this studios other works.
 

skeezx

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,944
i've fond memories of the first one but they're hazy, feels like i played it 20 years ago. when i saw it was getting a sequel i thought neat then i actually saw it and was like "what the fuuuuck"

don't know if i have the appetite for it quite yet but but looks like quite the trip. i'll get on it eventually
 

Dascu

Member
Oct 28, 2017
915
Definitely want to play it, but I've been holding out a bit in hopes of a Switch port confirmation.
 

snowtire

Member
Nov 17, 2017
598
Hell yes, great write-up. My fav game of the year so far without a doubt. The Undertale/Earthbound comparisons I think are good to get a sense of the amazing world-building and writing they’ve done, but it’s really got a tone and atmosphere all it’s own. There is some truly bonkers stuff in the game too, especially in the back half. Really nothing about it I don’t like, I keep wishing I could play it fresh again.
 

Cactuar

Member
Nov 30, 2018
2,453
Well, the best game I'm not playing is Final Fantasy VII. It's my favorite game and I am not currently playing it. I think you mean the best game "you've never played," in which case it's quite possible Anodyne 2 could hold that distinction. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
 

Bluesteel

Member
Oct 25, 2017
173
Oh shit, you beat me to this. I know Sean personally too, so this is embarrassing.

I co-sign though. At work but I'll try to post my thoughts when I'm not poking at words from my phone
 

RadzPrower

Member
Jan 19, 2018
812
Played the first one, so I have some idea of what the secret stuff you're talking about is. I'm still wondering about some aspects of that game at this point months removed from my playthrough.
 

steviestar3

Member
Jul 3, 2018
1,501
Definitely want to play it, but I've been holding out a bit in hopes of a Switch port confirmation.
I’m waiting for a Switch port too but I’m a bit wary because the Switch port of Anodyne 1 is terrible and has received 0 post-launch improvements. Might just pick it up on PC after all.
 

CloseTalker

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,677
I know visual styles are super subjective, but man alive to I not like the look of this game. It's not the PS1 style visuals, it's the actual art direction. I'll give it a shot at some point cuz the gameplay seems right up my alley though
 

ZiZ

Member
Oct 27, 2017
883
Oof, PS1 visuals did not age well at all.

I'd take 8 bit visuals over these any day.
 
OP
OP
Mugman

Mugman

Member
Oct 27, 2017
507
Hell yes, great write-up. My fav game of the year so far without a doubt. The Undertale/Earthbound comparisons I think are good to get a sense of the amazing world-building and writing they’ve done, but it’s really got a tone and atmosphere all it’s own. There is some truly bonkers stuff in the game too, especially in the back half. Really nothing about it I don’t like, I keep wishing I could play it fresh again.
Thanks! Yeah, it's really hard to compare Anodyne 2 to anything else tonally; I've never played anything else quite like it. I figured there was a big enough fanbase for Earthbound and Undertale on here that evoking those names would get the game some much needed love, but you're absolutely right. And yes, the back half of the game is my most memorable gaming experience of the whole year, and that's saying a lot.

Well, the best game I'm not playing is Final Fantasy VII. It's my favorite game and I am not currently playing it. I think you mean the best game "you've never played," in which case it's quite possible Anodyne 2 could hold that distinction. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Weird, I didn't know Final Fantasy 7 was a 2019 game, as stated in the title. Thank you for bringing it to my attention with the extremely pedantic and strangely rude reply where you talked about a completely different game for the entirety of your post. I'm sorry to have offended you, Cactuar, and hope all of your distinctions are held in the future.

Oh shit, you beat me to this. I know Sean personally too, so this is embarrassing.

I co-sign though. At work but I'll try to post my thoughts when I'm not poking at words from my phone
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Oof, PS1 visuals did not age well at all.

I'd take 8 bit visuals over these any day.
Something I failed to properly explain in my original post is that the visuals have a narrative purpose. Not to say that will make you like them, and that's totally fair that you don't. But there's definitely a purpose to them beyond just nostalgia and shock value. Approximately half of the game is made up of GameBoy Color-esque visuals as well.
 
Oct 25, 2017
13,709
Austria
I watched the GB Quicklook and the actual "gameplay" part looked really tedious and boring. Does that change later on and how much "dungeon-gameplay" is there? I liked the vibe of the rest but playing (I'm just making numbers up here, no need to correct those) 10 hours of what looks like pretty standard, non-challenging and kinda dull dungeons for 5 hours of charm would be a bummer.
 

Sabot

Member
Oct 31, 2017
1,264
I bought it and I can't wait to play it after I play Three Houses 2 more times.
 
OP
OP
Mugman

Mugman

Member
Oct 27, 2017
507
Great first thread!

The game has been getting some love from Waypoint, too, especially from Danielle. The piece she wrote on it is worth reading: 'Anodyne 2' Captures the Best Parts of 2D and 3D Zelda
Ah, thank you for posting this. I haven't been following Waypoint much the past few months, but I'm not too surprised that Danielle loves it. She did a great job of summing up what I loved about the later 3D portions.

Wow this looks amazing. Bought and will play immediately. Thanks OP!
Hope you love it as much as I did!

I watched the GB Quicklook and the actual "gameplay" part looked really tedious and boring. Does that change later on and how much "dungeon-gameplay" is there? I liked the vibe of the rest but playing (I'm just making numbers up here, no need to correct those) 10 hours of what looks like pretty standard, non-challenging and kinda dull dungeons for 5 hours of charm would be a bummer.
The game is split pretty evenly between 3D and 2D. With some...other stuff mixed in. The 2D dungeons get far more involved later. As an example:
The longest 2D section in the game was an homage to JRPGs, complete with towns, dungeons and exploring a decently sized interconnected overworld. The soundtrack also had some Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy nods during this portion as well
There are some other interesting dungeons in the back half of the game, but yeah, if you're looking for a challenge you're not gonna find much of it in Anodyne 2; it's very much about the story and mood.

I bought it and I can't wait to play it after I play Three Houses 2 more times.
Haha, I played it right after finishing my second run of Three Houses. It's a great palate cleanser.
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
13,709
Austria
The game is split pretty evenly between 3D and 2D. With some...other stuff mixed in. The 2D dungeons get far more involved later. As an example:
The longest 2D section in the game was an homage to JRPGs, complete with towns, dungeons and exploring a decently sized interconnected overworld. The soundtrack also had some Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy nods during this portion as well
There are some other interesting dungeons in the back half of the game, but yeah, if you're looking for a challenge you're not gonna find much of it in Anodyne 2; it's very much about the story and mood.
It's not really about challenge, more about how much the ""gameplay"" get's in the way of the story and mood.
I've recently been playing Horace, where the story was the driving motivation for me. But between each "story" segment was a ~20-40 minute rather dull and generic jump'n'run section and that completely took the wind out of my sails after some time.
 

ymgve

Member
Oct 31, 2017
295
I played one hour and it really didn't grip me, especially since the four first proper dungeons are basically the same. I guess I'll give it another try some time.
 
OP
OP
Mugman

Mugman

Member
Oct 27, 2017
507
It's not really about challenge, more about how much the ""gameplay"" get's in the way of the story and mood.
I've recently been playing Horace, where the story was the driving motivation for me. But between each "story" segment was a ~20-40 minute rather dull and generic jump'n'run section and that completely took the wind out of my sails after some time.
Hmmmm. I found the pacing in Anodyne pretty excellent. I beat the whole thing in a little less than 10 hours. There are longer chunks in the back half of gameplay, but between the visuals and music I was never taken out of the mood of the game.

I haven't played Horace but from what I've watched of it I understand what you mean. I was pretty delighted by the mechanical surprises all throughout Anodyne for what it's worth; I think it's far less standard, straightforward fare than what something like Horace is offering, both in the gameplay and story department
 

Samemind

Member
Oct 25, 2017
446
Is there something to accomplish in 'The Land'? I've felt that I've seen everything but I didn't really... I guess gain anything from it. Is this supposed to be the world from the first Anodyne, tying it to the sequel?

Also I wonder, was the horror segment a self-contained story or does it explain some canon events? Perhaps a backstory to Nova

Having just beaten it, I'd say it's good overall but I don't know if I'm satisfied with my experience. It's almost like it wasn't a big enough game for the ideas they were trying.

But I will say I'd like to see more games
throw in dev commentary and developer rooms
 
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snowtire

Member
Nov 17, 2017
598
Is there something to accomplish in 'The Land'? I've felt that I've seen everything but I didn't really... I guess gain anything from it. Is this supposed to be the world from the first Anodyne, tying it to the sequel?

Also I wonder, was the horror segment a self-contained story or does it explain some canon events? Perhaps a backstory to Nova

Having just beaten it, I'd say it's good overall but I don't know if I'm satisfied with my experience. It's almost like it wasn't a big enough game for the ideas they were trying.

But I will say I'd like to see more games
throw in dev commentary and developer rooms
You don't get anything tangible from visiting The Land besides reading the rocks, no, but you're right that it is a direct connection to the first game. It actually does some neat stuff tying some of the mechanics from the end of the original to the backstory of the sequel, but yeah I'd imagine it's pretty confusing if you haven't played it lol. There are some other small connections to the first game throughout too, but that's definitely the big one.

I don't have any specific insights to share on the gargoyle segment I guess, but I definitely don't take it as literally part of the character, just sort of a thematically-connected semi-parallel story. I really love that part.
 

Diane

Member
Nov 7, 2017
1,446
Brazil
Never heard of it.

That text box looks rough. Other than that it looks pretty charming and interesting. Thanks for bringing attention to the game OP.