Anodyne is an pixelly Zelda-like for Linux, Android, Windows, iOS and Mac, which presents a compelling world and decent gameplay but falls into some typical bad RPG storytelling traps. This review is for the Android version, so if there are any differences between versions I won’t be mentioning them.
The first thing that happens in the game is straight out of RPG 101 class. You wake up, walk down a hallway, then some nutty wizard/elder, tells you the world is depending on you to rescue it. YAWN…
One of the things I like the most about Anodyne is the on-screen controller. In portrait mode it takes up about a third of the screen. It has a D-pad, an X button, a C button, and an Enter button. The enter button seems like a hold over from the PC versions, which makes the game feel a little bit like it’s running in an emulator. It doesn’t effect the game in any negative way, but sometimes emulated games run poorly. I think it would be better if Anodyne on Android tried to avoid that emulated feeling.
When you put your finger on the D-pad and move around, the pad “rocks” in the direction you are pressing. Also, a white glow appears under your finger. It’s a nice effect, and combined with the “aiming-dot” that appears in front of Young when he walk, you almost get the sense that you are actually using a physical controller.
There was a great moment near the beginning where you walk under a highway bridge and the screen gets very dark. I walked to the middle of the screen and I saw a dim figure coming up behind me. I moved around a little and the figure disappeared. I applaud the game for giving me the creeps in such a small amount of pixels. That is quite a feat. I’m sure it was mostly due to a lot of the game being slightly off kilter. I love those kind of unexpected moments.
Unfortunately, this off kilter feeling does not last. The game turns into a really fiddly puzzle. You have to place dust in front of flying energy balls to stop them from hitting you. It’s not interesting at all. I beat the first boss and quit. There was no sense of progression after that.
I’d like to say I played through the game, but at this point it feels like it would be a waste of my time. I’m sure there are much better Zelda-likes out there. Don’t be fooled by the interesting concept art and title, I would not recommend Anodyne.