Anodyne 2: Return to Dust – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Action
Developer: Sean Han Tani, Marina Kittaka
Publisher: Analgesic Productions
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Anodyne 2: Return to Dust – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Large open world, Combination of graphics, Mixed gameplay
Bad: Map feels a bit empty
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Videogames have come a long way. Nowadays it is a trend to make games in homage to the better days and some developers excel in doing exactly that (look at 3D Realms with their Ion Fury), while others want to combine certain elements and create something truly unique. Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is a game that places two great worlds into one title. It has authentic PlayStation 1 graphics in an open world fantasy setting and the Zelda-like dungeon crawling in a glorious 8 – 16-bit sleeve, which makes for some really interesting scenarios. 

Story

You are born as Nova, a tiny human that has the ability to shrink down to a nano molecule and enter the bodies of other creatures. During your birth, you are guided by Palisade and C Psalmist through the first tutorial and they will hold your hand the first few hours until you are mature enough to do everything on your own.

The world has fallen to the evil entity named ‘The Dust’, which consumes characters and brings out the problems in them. At first, we thought that The Dust was a metaphor for cancer since each creature was very sick due to it. However, after some playtime, you will notice that it isn’t just a sickness, but it brings out the worst in people. Your world was almost fully consumed by it and ‘The Center’ is the last safe haven. Your mission is to help build up the core to clear out the dust storms, help the people with their problems and become the savior that you are intended to be.

The story flow seems a bit wonky here and there. There are many loose pieces that need to be connected and this can be a bit strange at first. However, the progression and the discovery of the many locations will trigger the player’s interest in the story and background of the game and as a result, making it sometimes hard to put the controller down and take a break.

Graphics

The description of the graphics will be split into two parts since the developers chose to implement different styles in their gameplay. During open-world gameplay, you are dealing with simple 3D models that are inspired by the early 3D graphics seen in the Nintendo 64 and first PlayStation.  Some maps are fully rendered while other parts look like the typical static hand-drawn backgrounds used in games such as Final Fantasy or Resident Evil.

The action part looks like a mixture of the early Nintendo consoles combined (NES, SNES, Gameboy). Viewed from top-down, it can remind you of those endless dungeons crawling sessions in Zelda or playing cute Gameboy games.

Both worlds have a unique feel to them and it is hard to decide which part is better. Both have their charms and while the 3D world can feel empty at times, it was like that back in the days. Overall, everything feels authentic and well made.

Sound

The transition between the two worlds is accompanied by the right music. Each section has its own format and oddly enough, you barely notice a difference. More specifically, when you are playing the game casually, you won’t really notice the change in the music but when concentrating on it, you will notice that there is a difference. This is probably because our brains are programmed to associate certain styles with certain music. Overall, the soundtracks of the many worlds and maps are very pleasant to listen to, with each one being tailored to the corresponding setting in order to create certain atmospheres.

Gameplay

Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is an adventure game that combines 3D exploring with 2D dungeon running. The game is set in a large open world where you must interact with the many inhabitants and listen to their stories to help out those who need a hand. It all starts with a good tutorial that sparks the birth of Nova: the Nano Cleaner. The first stage will have Nova collect a few items that she will need, to be born into reality. During these trials, all the mechanics that differentiate the two worlds are explained. When you enter organisms, you do so by shrinking down into a nano-sized version of yourself and you must clean out the dust from other peoples’ inside. After the tutorial, you are let loose on (what remains of) the world. The Center is the last remaining liveable place while the rest is covered by a large dust storm. Following a disaster, the core of the Center was broken down and needs rebuilding, so you need to explore and help inhabitants to collect the cards needed to rebuild the core. Said cards are not only collectibles that tell you stuff about the character as with each four collected you will build an upgrade to the core to let it hold more dust. This is when you learn that the dust can be used as an energy source to power a machine that will create a shield to push away the dust storm.

As the Nano Cleaner, you will find many people that are struck down by something. Since you feel the presence of the dust, it is your mission to infiltrate and clean up the thing that is ailing the person. Infiltration starts with a QTE which you must reflect crystals being shot at you. Getting hit results in a small push back but no damage is done here. These events are quite easy but will get harder as the game progresses. Once inside, you must clear out the large dust crystal and making your way up there can be quite tricky with many enemies and puzzles blocking your path. Each character has unique dungeons corresponding to their personality and will have a story piece after you save them from the corruption. During the cleansing, you can get hurt by the many traps or enemies found inside. By saving; you get a checkpoint after death and some defeated creatures will drop health shards to heal.

A few handy aspects of the game are that, although it does not hold your hand all the time, you can acquire tips by finding cards and characters. Sometimes you need some good old exploration and jumping around to get there and Nova can turn into a vehicle to quickly move around the map. Be sure to talk to everyone since exploring is always rewarded in this game. Find hidden items, health upgrades and cards by searching in every nook and cranny and help out people with little side missions and cleanse the world from the dust.

Controlling the game is quite easy but in the 3D world, you will notice the classic ‘tank-like’ controls, which originate from the early open-world titles where directional input is done with only one stick like Nintendo 64 or diagonal buttons such as the early PS1.

Conclusion

Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is a very fun old-school looking game that both feels and plays like a classic title. The graphics will charm you into trying the title out and the gameplay is easy to learn, which enables many types of gamers to enjoy the story. While the mixed 3D and 2D environments give great alteration between gameplay segments, its large world means that you will sink in many hours of gameplay to find everything to progress. Dungeons are fun to explore and although not that hard, they can give the player a good challenge to complete it.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Anodyne 2: Return to Dust – Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
MC_JP
MC_JP


Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

2 Comments

  1. Ibuki
    Ibuki
    August 22, 2019, 5:25 pm

    Looks nice!

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    • MC_JP
      MC_JP
      August 22, 2019, 6:31 pm

      I strongly advise trying the game out for yourself, the mixed graphics make the gameplay such fun!

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