Anodyne 2 sent me back to the Sega Saturn Dimension!

#1

I picked up Anodyne 2 on its release date yesterday. If this game had been part of the Sega Saturn’s slate of launch titles… Sega would still be making consoles today.

First off, you do not need to have played Anodyne 1. It’s a spiritual sequel. So far I’ve seen a couple of enemies in common, but no plot linkage. I breezed through the first game in a couple days last week, and I had a pretty good time. This game exceeds it in every way imaginable. Anodyne 1 was a clunky but charming 2013 indie Link’s Awakening clone. This game is a haunted homage to your dearest memories of gaming in 1996, and it feels polished enough to have been a legit sleeper hit at that time.

The game goes as follows: You explore a huge 3D overworld full of fun, weird characters and perfectly shonky platforming. Now and then you encounter somebody who’s been corrupted by sinister “dust” and you have to enter their mind to vacuum it all up. Inside everyone’s mind, it’s Link’s Awakening all the time!

Both gameplay conceits are really well executed. The writing is pretty good, careening between zelda-cute and too-weird-even-for-1996. As in Anodyne 1, there is definitely a love for Earthbound’s tonal shifts and silly-dark writing. I also pick up a lot of Crono Cross vibes here. It seems like the game is attempting something weighty regarding themes of authoritarian purity vs chaotic love. It might pull it off! I’m still early on.

Plus, instead of a run button they let you just straight-up turn into a car whenever you want:

I’m in the second big area and I have to give this game an absolutely unqualified recommendation.

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#2

ah fuck this does look good

I thought it was a big laugh that the first game was called “anodyne” and looked that way but that their studio is called “analgesic productions” is really next level

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#3

I’m glad to hear you don’t have to have played the original. I’m too old for video game homework

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#4

Yeah, I enjoyed Anodyne 1 a lot because my thumb is still injured and it was the closest thing to an action game I could play without hurting myself. It’s pretty decent but for anyone who hasn’t played it, I’d strongly recommend skipping it and playing this. This game is leagues beyond its predecessor.

#5

oh my god the turning into the car thing absolutely sold me

how hard is the platforming

#6

So far the platforming is super easy and basic. It just feels really good to be jumping on stupid level geometry to jankily reach a character on a big ledge, you know? Real PlayStation hours.

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#7

what are reasons to not play the original tho

#8

Well, the movement in the original feels a little floaty, the writing is striving for something that it can’t really reach, and the late-game dungeons are too long. That being said, I still had a great time with it, and the pixel art is fantastic. So yeah, if you want a straightforward but weird 2d Zeld-alike, then I’d recommend it.

But this game is doing something much more interesting, the writing and music are way better, and it feels better to play. So if you only have time for one of these, skip to 2.

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#9

This is it entirely for me; they didn’t have a clear enough lock on what they were doing although they were totally aesthetically aligned with me. I’m encouraged that you feel similar and feel they’ve really stepped it up.

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#10

Definitely. They’re going for a similar vibe in this sequel, but the story is more grounded in real, relatable emotion. You start the game before your character has even been born, and your tutorial is the process of gestation inside the egg. That’s a very cool premise for an introduction, and through the gestation and birth they made me feel some things about childhood and motherhood. Going through this gave me a meaningful attachment to my character that I never felt with the first game’s boring cipher of a protagonist.

They also have a lot of weird characters saying non-sequitur nonsense like in the first game, but it’s generally a bit more interesting. Like, a worm child told me that he wished he had a football made of his own skin.

The first area set up an interesting little society with internal contradictions that seem like they’ll blossom into a conflict with meaty thematic overtones. We’ll see if they pull it off!

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#11

I love how transparently many influences the developers had and how successfully they managed to cram them all in here without it feeling forced or unfaithful

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#12

like even in the 15 minutes I just played it’s apparent that they’re working with a ridiculously deep pool and the audiovisual design is deliberate enough to carry it off

extremely Nier 1 vibes

they even did good unity menus

thank you for the rec!

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#13

I’m glad you’re digging it too! Very interesting presentation and vibes in this game.

#14

Is this Steam?

#15

Yup!

#16

Damn it the last thing I need is more interesting games to play

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#17

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#18

I’m at 16 games that have been notable or meaningful to me so far this year which is bonkers, we aren’t even two thirds of the way through yet

#19

Anodyne 1 had some interesting influences from Yume Nikki as well – I thought it was solid stuff. This spiritual sequel had been on my Steam wishlist for a while, I’ll be playing it next weekend.

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#20

Ken Levine among them, I see

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