Anodyne: Taking on the Human Subconscious, Zelda Style

I know, right?

This is an action-adventure romp from Analgesic Productions. It’s an excellent The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past type experience, with a great look and engaging story going on.


Created by Sean Han Tani and Marina Kittaka, the former began the project alone. But through a friend he met Kittaka, who lives in America.

Han Tani lives in Tokyo, but they collaborated on the project remotely to have it done in 2013 (not an uncommon approach, it’s how Moon Studios works on titles like Ori and the Blind Forest).

Anodyn the noun means a painkilling drug or medicine. The adjective means something that won’t cause offence due to being dull.

Thankfully, this little gem is more along the lines of a narcotic. As the website explains:

"In Anodyne, you explore and fight your way through nature, urban and abstract themed areas in the human Young's subconscious, evoked by a 16-bit-era visual style and a moody, dream-like soundtrack."

The Zelda elements are clear to see for anyone who knows anything about video games.

We can’t say Anodyne does anything new in the world of RPGs, but it is an enjoyable experience all the same.

Whilst the screen shifts are a bit jarring and we snowflaked over that for a while.

But what develops is a surprisingly lush experience with an impressive soundtrack. It’s brooding and eerie, but has an electronic quality as you go about levelling up.

The game has a sense of humour, too, as you start out in the fabled Zelda fashion of being a “chosen one”.

Only your first weapon is a broomstick, leading to a mentor to despair over your lack of talent.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable little action-adventure romp. You can have it wrapped up in about five hours, but the story development and engrossing music and visual style make it a memorable experience.

Any fans of the SNES era of adventuring will particularly take to this. It’s cheap. It’s engaging. And it’s all the work of two talented individuals.

Anodyne 2

With Anodyne taking clear influence from the SNES era, it’s interesting to see the May 2019 sequel riffing off the PlayStation 2 generation of games.

This is one we haven’t got to yet, but it’s a loving homage to that era of gaming.

Judging from the trailer it appears to drift into SNES sections as well,

Dispense with some gibberish!

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