Anodyne was an odd little beast of a game. On the surface, a Zelda-like action adventure, full of dungeons to explore, bosses to blat and new items to collect to open up more of the world. But just beneath the surface was an oddly personal and philosophical tale that wasn’t nearly as concerned with fate-of-the-world adventuring as it first seemed. Fitting, then, that Anodyne 2: Return to Dust wraps itself in PSX-era 3D graphics and sci-fi trappings, but still has you wandering the world, cleaning up dust.
Throughout the original Anodyne, you were constantly reminded of your role as a cleaner. Your main tool for interacting with the world was a broom, and what you mostly interacted with was dust. Despite the sequel being more fanciful in its setting, the developer’s own description says you’ll be stepping into the well-worn shoes of ‘Nova, the Nano Cleaner’, and you’ll be hunting through the world to ‘collect dangerous Nano Dust’. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
While there are definitely thematic elements carried over, developers Analgesic Productions say that like the Final Fantasy series, this will be a self-contained story in its own universe, just with a few of the trappings of the original. There’s no need to play the first game (although you should) to enjoy the second, and they’re in very different genres besides.
I love that we’re seeing more and more games adopting the look of early PlayStation-era 3D, low-poly models, chunky but evocative environments and occasionally unsettling vibes. Just the other day we saw OK/NORMAL abusing the aesthetic in order to create a spooky nightmare experience, and while Anodyne 2 doesn’t look too interested in scares, the giant blank-eyed squid thing in the trailer (and screenshot up top) is pretty intimidating for something so technologically primitive. Who needs bumpmaps, anyway?