- Reviewed On PC
- Review Key Supplied By Developer
- PC Exclusive For Now
Sean Han-Tani had a sweet, tragic tale called All Our Asias (tragic as-in the story about cancer, not really the game itself). The man has it in him when it comes to telling a great story and while I had some complaints regarding the gameplay portion, Anodyne 2 is a much greater ambition that’s pulled off to mostly stronger heights!
Now, I’ve never played the first Anodyne, but thankfully, the sequel doesn’t require doing so in order to understand whats going on. You play as a Nano Cleaner named Nova, who has the ability to shrink into the minds of disturbed individuals, and clean out all their misery, or Dust. The story plays out very much in episodic, with an overall hero’s journey path to cleaning out evil.
Each character you dive into has a commendable depth in their lives and personalities, making for fun character studies while you are cleaning out the Dust. Its pretty much like a really good anime, with twists around the second half, heartwarming charm and a great sense of humor. Sean’s story-telling strengths are shared here, backed by dreamlike visuals in a PlayStation 1-inspired aesthetic. As a video game, you’ve got a 3D adventure platformer mixed with 2D Zelda-ish levels, which are when you go into the minds of dusted civilians.
The 3D world is how you get to these troubled people, starting with a circular town, then working your way up to the plains and ocean views. Progressing to the end involves filling up the central tube with dust, while increasing the height with every four cards you collect either in the 3D world, or within each of the Dust patients. The 3D world is the more platformer aspect, while when you go into 2D, you’ll face puzzles, combat and exploration involving you and your Dust Cleaner.
I’ll say that the first four missions are perhaps the weakest, because once you leave the town and go up to the plains, that when the levels get more inspiring, the visuals are more breathtaking and everything else just gets so surreal.
The first four all play out the same, ending with the same unexciting boss battle, but then you go see the others and they’re all more creative, playing around with different art styles at times, but also changing up the rules on how to get through everything. They even make jokes about retro graphics in a clever way, I’m not going to spoil, but some of these individuals you dive into share some interesting surprises about themselves and what world they are thinking of.
Some of the missions even turn into an open-ended landscape filled with side goodies, in addition to your prime objectives that you can tackle at any order. One had me working together, then destroying a mirrored partner and there’s some fun dialogue going on with that. Of course, you can’t forget about the graphics or the catchy tunes. I mean yeah, the beautiful PS1 presentation speaks for itself as you see in this image, so if nothing else, I just like exploring to see what weird creatures I’ll run into, or what upgrades I might find.
I will say though, there were times where the old school trappings still hit hard, which for a game that is actually going out of its way to be accessible, its unfitting to have objectives or important progression items (the cards to be specific) where I had to wander about to find the right way. I know Sean has provided hints in the Steam discussion, but there shouldn’t ever be a point where you have to refer to some form of a guide or “get gud”.
It sucks because when I was able to get passed these parts, I enjoyed the heck out of Anodyne 2. Its so sweet-natured and even heartbreaking around the last third, but I really just enjoy being in this world, especially once you head up to the plains, where the surreal charm really strives to greatness. I had a really “Good” time with Anodyne 2 and would love to see Sean explore doing more games like this and just go nuts.
If anything, I want to see him bring his PlayStation-inspired games to the PlayStation console. Anodyne 2 needs a console port or edition! Make it happen! It would feel…enchanting!