Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Anodyne

5:00 PM on 05.03.2013 // Vito Gesualdi

Like Zelda, but pretentious

Anodyne is a cool little top-down dungeon crawler with an obvious problem: it isn’t Zelda.

Though I would normally feel like a jerk criticizing a small indie title for not stacking up to Nintendo’s legendary series, the game itself forces the comparison, lifting not just the basic gameplay elements of the classic 2D Zelda games, but also various art cues and enemy designs.

Anodyne (Windows [reviewed], Mac, Linux)
Developer: Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka
Publisher: Analgesic Productions
Released: February 4, 2013
MSRP: $9.99

The primary difference is Anodyne’s dedication to minimalism. Whereas the Zelda games offer the player an inventory filled with various sub-weapons and tools, Anodyne’s protagonist Young carries only his trusty broom (and eventually a pair of jump boots). The plot is similarly sparse, leaving players to fight their way through the game’s oddly disturbing environments without any real explanation as to why, with the cryptic NPCs and their bizarre philosophical ramblings not helping to shake that sense of unease.    

Luckily, Anodyne’s lacking complexity never seems enough to discourage one from exploring its unique world in search of cards (the game’s collectable of choice). Hidden in treasure chests scattered around the various areas and dungeons, these cards are the key to unlocking various gates and progressing through the game. Though I wish the importance of the cards had been stressed before forcing me to backtrack, Anodyne’s streamlined navigation makes it easy to zoom around in search of missed items.

The entire world is interconnected by a series of portals, the main portal hub helpfully informing players which areas still have cards to be searched out. Meanwhile, the sprawling dungeons are all helpfully tracked by an in-game map, showing which paths have yet to be followed. These are perhaps Anodyne’s strongest features, letting players enjoying explore this strange realm without worrying about getting lost.

However, while this scaled-down take on the Zelda formula leaves the thrill of exploration intact, the actual game mechanics are perhaps a bit too simplistic. The game’s puzzles are the worst offenders; without an inventory of tools to choose from, their solutions are easily narrowed down to something involving your broom, or using dust clumps to dismantle traps and block enemies. Boss battles suffer similarly from the lack of different items, not forcing players to exploit weak points using specific sub-weapons, but simply having them dodge attack patterns and get in some broom hits when possible.

Thing is, early in the adventure I was more than willing to overlook the lacking gameplay -- I was more interested in learning what I could about the mysterious world. Anodyne offered me moments of beauty: climbing a massive windmill in the rain, scaling a sun-painted mountain. It also offered me moments of horror: killing a fisherman and jumping into the blood portal left behind; walking around a black-and-white village, unable to talk to the NPCs without stabbing them. Though as the cryptic statements began piling to the ceiling, I started to wonder when the game would start getting to the meaning behind these abstractions.

Unfortunately, as the credits roll, it becomes clear the developers have no interest in defining their world properly; whatever theories you might devise about the game’s hidden meaning given no real justification. It would be one thing if the clues were stronger, or if the dialogue was truly novel. Problem is, at times it feels more like an elaborate joke: bears talking about having sex, the final boss inviting you to go get a sandwich. Perhaps there’s some grand truth to be gleaned from the abstract philosophical ramblings, or perhaps the cute cat rambling away about the nature of life and death is exactly the kind of unnecessary pretentiousness it feels like.  

Point is, Anodyne’s weaknesses would’ve been greatly justified by a solid narrative. Instead, we’re left with a semi-decent dungeon crawler featuring some rather attractive sprite art and great soundtrack. So while Anodyne’s minimalistic riff on Zelda is definitely unique enough to warrant a purchase, it unfortunately never comes close to inheriting the legacy of its father, too lost in its odd pretentiousness to ever arrive at the point.



Anodyne - Reviewed by Vito Gesualdi
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Vito Gesualdi, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure VitoGesualdi Tips
Destructoid feature contributor and bearer of a supremely weird last name (pronounced JIZZ-wall-dee). An active standup comedian in Los Angeles, Vito's sardonic brand of humor shines through whet... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:

  Feb 20

Piracy turns indie game into an overnight success

An eye-opening retrospective on Anodyne's Pirate Bay promotion

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

So I Got a 3DS

Negotiations are over. Rainbow Six Siege is a no buy from me as of now.

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 72: Sexy Dog

Meesa Back! (or, here, or something.) Dev Log #1

Cblogs of 11/23/2015 + Sexuality in Videogames

Better with Age: Classic Games Just Look Better... For Now


Secret Santa with your favorite Destructoid ho-ho-hoes!

An overdue, informal introduction

Obligatory Introduction

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Was anybody else here extremely disappointed by the ending of Assassin's Creed 2?
Parismio avatarParismio
Just tried Fallout 4 on my PC Via my Cousins steam account and nope, it does not run for me very well. Buying the PS4 version it is!
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
You know who never took any shit from anybody? Dr. Blight.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
Am I the only one who has to pull up their sleeves to play competantly at videogames? When my hoodie's sleeves are down I play like a piece of shit but when i pull them up, I have more flexibility.
Shinta avatarShinta
PSA: Just picked up Falco amiibo at Best Buy. They had about 20 Tom Nook, 10 singles of Splatoon Boy/Girl, the Splatoon triple pack, about 30 Marths with a big sign saying "Look Who's Back!," Dark Pit, and probably about 15 others. Not too shabby.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
I long for the day that people get over their weird circle jerk hatred for FFXIII related things and just ignore things they don't care about.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I'm upgrading my PC on the cheap and I'm going with AMD, out of these two CPUs, wich one is better?, A8-7650K or FX-6300?
Logeon avatarLogeon
Huh, I think we broke LightningFarron19, you guys.
Archelon avatarArchelon
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
Being a video game-focused website, it's not often I get to gush about Godzilla. So have a link to one of my favorite tracks in the entire series:
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 really does bring back memories. Specifically, memories of finding unlikely loot on a animal's corpse. I'm just grateful that Bloatfly didn't know how to use that 15 pound flamethrower it was apparently carrying in its bum bag.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
I no longer require seasoning for my Thanksgiving dinner because between the Lightning post here and Undertale beating Fallout 3 in the "best game" vote on GameFAQs, I have all the salt I need. (Image) [img][/img]
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Pfft, who needs context. [img][/img]
voex avatarvoex
Yeah...fuck the NES Castlevanias! Think I'll skip straight to Symphony of the Night.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
No more heroes. Wii or PS3 version?
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Thanks for that Mother 4 article yesterday I've been listening to nothing but GBA-era soundtracks, truly my golden years of gaming.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
If you stop to think about it, Thanksgiving is basically #Darksiders2: The Holiday.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Your daily reminder that my band can beat up your band.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Hoping more character customization options come of the next Smash-centric Nintendo Direct. Playing as Wrong-Hair, Wrong-Face Robin feels weird. Female Robin Amiibo, too. And let 3DS users download the whole OST. My wishes are reasonable, I think.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -