Anuchard – Review
Follow Genre: Dungeon crawler, RPG
Developer: stellarNull
Publisher: Freedom Family Limited
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: Switch

Anuchard – Review

Site Score
Good: Fun dungeon crawling gameplay
Bad: Poorly written dialogue
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Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

With their new title Anuchard, Indonesian game studio stellarNull is taking a huge step towards cementing their position as an indie developer. Based on what we could see on their website, Anuchard is stellarNull’s first real release on console and Steam, after dabbling a bit in the world of mobile titles and browser games. Still, with over a decade of experience under their belt, we have some expectations when it comes to stellarNull’s ‘debut’ title. Is Anuchard a good introduction to the studio or are we better off waiting for their next title to act as a calling card?


Upon booting up Anuchard for the first time, you’re greeted with a heavy dose of exposition. The titular Anuchard was an island floating in the sky, protected by five Guardians, and was a veritable utopia. For some reason, the Guardians decided to abandon the floating island, and Anuchard went the way of Atlantis, crashing down and becoming lost to time. Two remnants of the ancient civilization remained: a small village, named Orchard, and a mysterious dungeon. Enter the so-called Bellwielder. According to the ancient prophecies, this individual will ring in a new golden age for Anuchard, by using a magic bell inhabited by spirits. As you probably have guessed by now, the Bellwielder happens to be our protagonist, and it is up to you to take up their mantle and restore Anuchard to its former glory. It’s not the most mind-blowing premise, but it does what it needs to, and it’s easy enough to understand. That’s a good thing because the actual writing isn’t up to par. We’re not quite sure whether it’s due to poor translation or a decent translation of poorly written dialogue in the first place, but the overall writing felt atrocious.


Probably the most striking element of Anuchard’s art direction is that the characters lack a face. Surprisingly, this doesn’t hurt the narrative, as emotions are conveyed through body language and dialogue, even if it does feel poorly written at times. The main claim to fame here is the stunning pixel art, and although we do feel that pixel art is overdone at this point, once in a while a game pops up that absolutely nails the aesthetics. Anuchard is such a game. The subdued color palette prevents things from looking too cartoonish and the environmental designs of the dungeons and the villages reminded us of old school Legend of Zelda titles (and its derivatives). Contrasting with the old-school pixel art are the “off-screen” areas. These are typically black, but here and there an image of a colorful galaxy replaces the usual blackness, which was a nice touch. There was a bit of a jarring contrast with the item sprites, as these were hand-drawn rather than pixel art. This felt a little inconsistent, and we perhaps would’ve preferred the full pixel treatment for the visuals.


The second we heard the first notes of Anuchard’s OST, we were hit with a dose of nostalgia. The music absolutely nails the SNES soundscape. We’ve heard many “retro” soundtracks, but usually, it seems like something is not quite right. This isn’t the case here, fortunately. The sound effects adhere to the same audio aesthetics, though we did feel like there was a missed opportunity here. Given that the Bellwielder uses a bell as their primary weapon, you’d expect to hear a bell ringing sound effect whenever an enemy is hit, but this isn’t the case. Granted, this would probably get somewhat tiresome after a while, but having this as an option at least would’ve been a nice touch.


Given that Anuchard expertly blends together elements from different genres, we’re not quite sure how to label it. It’s a dungeon-crawling RPG at its core, but it’s also filled with plenty of puzzles as well as city-building sim gameplay. You’ll be spending most of your time inside dungeons, as you aim to rescue the crystallized souls of the lost civilians of Anuchard. Armed with your trusty magical bell, you need to take on the evil creatures that inhabit the dungeons, including a series of bosses. As you make your way through these dungeons and free more and more souls, you’ll gradually rebuild Orchard into something that resembles what Anuchard used to be like. Not only does this mean that the once quiet village becomes a lot more lively, but additional features become gradually unlocked as well. The most important one of these is arguably the cooking mechanic, which allows you to create dishes that provide you with a stat boost before you head into the dungeons again, but other elements, including cosmetics, are unlocked in the same manner.

The actual dungeon crawling gameplay feels satisfying, with a tight control scheme, a variety of attacks that can be chained together, and just enough strategic challenge to keep you on your toes. Armed with your trusty bell, you’ll need to use your heavy attack to bash enemies into walls, for example, to break their armor, allowing you to chain attack their squishy bits. Some light environmental puzzling is also present, and the same heavy attack you use to break enemy armor is also used to open new pathways inside the dungeons, typically by knocking a ball into a switch. This is easier said than done, as puzzles become increasingly elaborate, of course. Thankfully, there are plenty of hidden secrets and items scattered around the dungeons, keeping you motivated to make your way past even the biggest headscratchers offered here. Rounding things out are the boss fights against Anuchard’s previous Guardians. Each of these has a unique attack pattern, and you’ll need to figure out how to beat them. While challenging, none of the fights felt unbalanced or unfair.

Even so, if you feel like the combat is too difficult -or if you simply want to focus on puzzles rather than on crushing the skulls of your enemies with a giant bell on a stick- then you have the option to reduce the amount of damage that you take to either 50% or 100%. This means that you can essentially turn the Bellwielder invincible, and although this does change the game’s entire dynamic, we found that there was still enough substance to keep going forward. We don’t recommend using this feature in your first playthrough, and perhaps it had been better had it been locked behind completing the story at least once, but it’s a fantastic addition for completionists that want to go back into dungeons they previously explored in order to find any hidden secrets.


With a satisfying core gameplay loop and fantastic presentation, Anuchard certainly stands out. Unfortunately, terrible writing prevents Anuchard from achieving true greatness. If you can get past a shallow story and poorly written dialogue, a fun little dungeon crawler awaits you, but if you care about the narrative, then the sloppy execution here might be enough to skip this one. Fortunately, the game doesn’t exactly break the bank either if you do decide to pick it up, and there is still plenty of fun to be had here. It might not be a perfect console debut for stellarNull, but it’s a solid foundation that makes us look forward to what the developer may cook up in the future.

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