Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Analgesic Productions
The first thing you need to know about Anodyne 2 is that even though it?s published by Ratalaika Games, it?s not at all like that publisher?s usual fare. I?ve played a lot of Ratalaika games, and outside of one or two noteworthy exceptions, they specialize — for better or for worse — in games that are pretty straightforward and forgettable.
Anodyne 2…is neither of those things.
What is it, then? It?s hard to describe. Is ?incredibly odd love letter to the ?90s that?s equal parts 3D platformer and 2D dungeon crawler” a genre? Probably not..but then Anodyne 2 makes an interesting argument for having created it, in that case.
Because seriously, I don?t think I?ve ever played anything quite like this. As you wander around Anodyne 2?s overworld, interacting with some of the weirdest creatures imaginable — giant worms are, improbably, the most normal things you?ll see — you could be forgiven for thinking you may have accidentally downloaded some long-forgotten PS1 classic. The polygons are everywhere, the edges are sharp, and the whole thing feels like 1995 all over again.
Then you enter one of the dungeons, and you?re suddenly playing a SNES game. You wander around the 16-bit 2D world, sucking up creatures, opening gates, and solving rudimentary puzzles, and even if that describes any number of games that have come out over the past 30+ years, when you combine it with the 3D map it just reinforces the feeling that you?ve traveled back in time to that moment in time when 16-bits gave way to 32-bits and 64-bits.
And if you really want that feeling reinforced, you just need to look at the content. Anodyne 2 is weird — not just in its trippy characters, but also in what you?re doing. The game starts with you being born (I think?), as you have to gather breakfast items from themed characters, and then you travel down a long tube before bursting into another room where you meet…I don?t know, two floating gods or something? Basically, the whole game is like that, and you?re constantly collecting dust and cards and all sorts of other items as the game rambles on about destinies and who knows what else. I tried transcribing some of the narration, but then I realized that none of it made sense, and that you could pick literally any moment in this game and you?d be treated to craziness. lost the plot very early on, and I?m not even going to pretend I knew what was happening for a good chunk of the time.
Which leads to the other core question: is Anodyne 2 good? And honestly, I have no idea how to answer that. This is clearly a deeply personal labour of love, created by a pair of developers who have nothing but fondness for that SNES-to-PS1 era. And to their collective credit, they?ve made a game that captures that feeling and that era perfectly. If you?re in the mood for that — or just for seeing a game that?s really not like anything else out there at the moment, then be sure to check it out.
Ratalaika Games provided us with an Anodyne 2 PS4/PS5 code for review purposes.