Funny thing about dust, gets everywhere, clogs stuff up and causes all kinds of issues. Imagine you had the ability to shrink and get rid of it? Imagine no more Anodyne 2: Return to Dust dropped on Switch for all your cleaning needs!.
Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is a spiritual sequel to Anodyne, as explained in the intro when you start the game, it shares alot of similar themes but that is about it so don’t you worry if you missed out Anodyne 1 (though I HIGHLY recommend you play it in general). The game throws you into its deep pool of strange and endearing by making your first task, birth the main character Nova. While not quite as engaging and intense as the task sounds it does set you up for what kind of adventure you have ahead of you.
Nova is a cleaner of Nano Dust which has seemingly harmful effects and is a natural enemy of The Centre where you inhabit. Your job is to shrink down and clean these citizens of Dust and eventually getting a Card which allows you to clean the outer world of Dust. While there is ALOT more going on with the narrative and I deeply mean it, the narrative needs to be fresh to players to really get the most out of it. To be honest with you readers, the narrative moved, shocked and entertained me, it took over my thoughts throughout the story and even managed to enter my dreams.
If you are familiar with previous works of the developers (Even the Ocean link) believe me when I say, this is the best narrative experience from them yet.
Graphically Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is a game of 2 halves, one emulates the early PSX era of 3D platformers and the other somewhere between NES, GBC and SNES Zelda-likes which puts that section in line with the original Anodyne.
While neither graphical style is enough to make you weep with joy at its beauty it does have moments that will catch you off guard with some scenes. What does soak through and proves one point I often mention is the art direction, everything is bizarre but stylized in such a way it feels naturally and is visually pleasing, engaging and drives home the tone of the game.
The music and sound effects in Anodyne 2: Return To Dust are frankly essential to the experience. Whereas some games I’m happy enough to play silently or with background noise, each time I sat down with the game it was noise cancelling headphones on. Each area has some brilliantly composed music which manages to nail the tone of what is going on, even just exploring the hub has an almost haunting vibe to it along with pangs of discovery.
As mentioned Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is essentially a game of 2 halves, one is the main exploration side of things and the other the Zelda style dungeons.
While there’s not a whole lot of action on the 3D sections, you’ll be traversing the world map either on foot or turning into a car to get places faster. Here you’ll be tracking down characters infected by Nano Dust and also the odd treasure chest or later on coin collectable.
Once you have found someone who is afflicted you shrink down and go inside them, to do this you have a rhythm game involving colours which represent which direction to hold your shield, while some of these can be tough you cannot fail them.
Once you’re successful at that you arrive in the 2D Zeldalike, here is the bulk of the gameplay with your hoover used to suck up enemies and dust, solve puzzles and even have boss fights. The dungeons range in length but generally the longest is about half an hour with story stuff thrown in.
Now I’ll be honest with you reader, I’m being purposely vague with good reason. Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is a title which is draped in mystery and you are quite literally birthing a character and discovering the world, the inhabitants and everything else along with them. To go into depth about certain sections of the game and the narrative would be a disservice to the developers and players who are interested in this title.
As mentioned I am a huge fan of Anodyne and Even the Ocean, something about this developers games just click with me and I feel that with this title it is very marmite on if it’ll click with you or you’ll just see it as “that weird game with old graphics”. For me Anodyne 2 is game of the year 2021 material, had it originally released this year and not 2019 on Steam. Instead it has to have the honour of being the best gaming experience I’ve had in 2021 and comes as one of my favourite titles of this generation of games for both narrative and pure addictive gameplay.
An essential must play experience
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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.