This is by far the best indie adventure RPG I've ever played. It is heavily derivative of top-down Zelda games like A Link to the Past, so fans of Zelda and Zelda-like games will enjoy Anodyne.Gameplay
Anodyne's controls are very well-designed. The fact that the game is controlled by a grand total of seven buttons (arrows, select/attack, back/jump, and menu) is an excellent design choice: far too often have I played games with separate buttons for every tool or weapon or action, or so many items that additional controls are needed to cycle through them. The menu very rarely has to be used to play the game, only needed to equip the occasional broom upgrade.
The card system is cute and unique, with each card having a funny little quote about the featured character. NPC and enemy design is well done; the sprites are simple and fit the aesthetic of the game, and the AI, while sometimes frustrating, works very well.
Level design, while not exceptionally innovative, is well-thought-out and well-executed, although a compass item for dungeons would be helpful for keeping track of what went where in previous rooms. The overworld is expansive and elaborate, with intricate, winding pathways in some areas and wide, open expanses in others. Again, the menu map could use some improvements, such as region labels, but it may just be a design choice.Aesthetics
Anodyne's 16-bit style is the perfect fit for what it is, and the idea of a Zelda-like game with modern and surrealist twists is certainly charming. The sprites and tileset are all well-drawn and aesthetically fitting, and the selective use of lighting and effects in some areas of the game is a small yet powerful touch.
One of the best parts of Anodyne is its music. The music is calm and distant, yet drives the gameplay in incredible ways. The player cannot help but nod along to the groovy, eccentric beats and melodies of the Hotel, the somber, melodic sways of the Temple, or the hesitant, ominous notes of the Cavern as they roam the halls and corridors and solve the grand puzzles contained within each unique dungeon.Cons
While overall a fantastic game, it could use a bit more in the side quest department, as the game, while nonlinear in layout, is fairly linear in terms of objective.
The bosses, while generally a bit tricky on the first or second try, are overall fairly easy and simple, without much variety in fight style (dodge its attacks, strike strike strike, wait for its anger phase to pass, rinse and repeat until dead).
There is not much incentive to stay alive in the game. Death means being sent back to the last checkpoint, which in a dungeon can be fairly common. Checkpoints are easy to find and easy to use, and saving at a different checkpoint from the previous one fully heals the player, which seems a bit cheap. There is no currency to be lost, and dying does not reset progress, just position: any items collected will stay collected after death, and saving is only really needed when quitting, as there is no volatile progress in need of saving.In Conclusion
If you are a fan of Zelda-like games and have 10 bucks to spare, give the game a go. As with any Steam game, however, waiting for a discount is probably the best course of action, as the $5 I bought the game for was the perfect price for the game in my opinion (but then again, I don't like paying for things, so there's that).