Anodyne (Switch eShop)- Review

Thanks to Nnooo for the review code

Title: Anodyne
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 02/28/2019


In this top-down adventure game inspired by the handheld classics of old, you take control of Dr. Young, searching for answers and clues hidden within the mind… This game is pretty trippy, and definitely plot heavy in a way akin to the dev’s other title I covered, Even the Ocean. It definitely tries to spook and mess with you at points, but I generally found the plot to Even the Ocean a lot more engaging and thus couldn’t get myself to fully stick with this one, for reasons we’ll get into later.


At first glance, you may be fooled into thinking this game is trying to clone the likes of the 2D Zelda games, and well, you’d kinda be right! It definitely has a similar viewing angle and a room-by-room structure, but in terms of the gameplay loop they are pretty different. Still, the spritework here is nice, although the aspect ratio is pretty squished, akin to that of a Game Boy game (also with the GBA-esque option to blow it up to a very wide width, please do not do that).

It also runs very poorly, and you can especially notice this on any aspect of the game that requires scrolling, whether that be textboxes moving or the screen transitions, and what initially seems like only a minor hiccup quickly becomes very, very obnoxious as this persists throughout the entire game.

The music on the other hand is ok. It’s generally ambient, but it does a fine job of setting the mood of the various locales you’ll explore, giving off eerie vibes as things get more and more distorted. I rather enjoyed the soundtrack quite a bit as background noise, and it gets the job done well.


Anodyne is a 2D top-down adventure game, sorta akin to Zelda. You move around a big world map, explore dungeons, solve a lot of puzzles, and look out for secrets and the like. Armed with a broom, you really don’t have much in terms of a combat focus, with a lot of the fun of Anodyne coming from exploration and puzzle solving, since progression is gated by collectible cards and keys picked up from dungeons and the game world.

Still, the controls are simple, and choppy scrolling aside, your objective is clear. You have a hub you’ll frequently return to, which opens up fast travel to different parts of the world thanks to special mirrors, so even wandering off the beaten path isn’t too much of a pain since you’ll inevitably stumble upon one of these shortcuts to make use of later. Your broom doesn’t do all that much, really, and the main focus is solving lots and lots of puzzles, whether that involves beating all the enemies in a room, stepping on switches, or getting clever to find the right way forward. You can save anywhere, and there are plentiful checkpoints to respawn at if you do die, so this game is pretty lenient when it comes to that aspect, at the very least.

However, even this more laid-back approach to an action-adventure game doesn’t mean everything in Anodyne is all what it seems to be. A lot of aspects in this world get incredibly weird, with some of the puzzles/objectives you’re meant to do seeming like things that would be pretty unwise choices to make, and there are definitely areas of this game that jump pretty high into the horror territory, just adding a lot of unease that isn’t too surprising considering the nature of similar games like Even the Ocean. There’s still a lot of ways to die and be tripped up of course, and even the occasional boss fight, but Anodyne is more about the journey, and in my time with the game I had a decent time… Except for the biggest flaw with this version, which held me back each time I played the game, until I couldn’t deny it any longer.

Yes, that framerate/scrolling issue I mentioned earlier? Constantly an issue throughout the entire game. Every screen scroll, every text box, all feel like the game is on the verge of imploding. In a funny way, this does add to the eerie vibe of the game, but each time I would pick up and give this game a spin for review, I would put it down very quickly due to this choppy framerate getting outright annoying. When you’re in a room, just doing whatever you need to do? Yeah, the game decent enough, and it’s not like the framerate is gonna make you miss an attack or anything, but when this game is an adventure game made up of many, many screens with a lot of dialogue, and both those aspects are incredibly sluggish, it really does make this Switch experience a lot more miserable.

Still, the game is pretty short, and I wanted to try and at least beat it, but considering how long this sat in the queue and each play session led to the same frustration with performance, (which hasn’t been fixed in the long, long time since this game has been released, by the way) I eventually threw in the towel after over an hour of exploring and having fun with a few dungeons; the performance really is that distracting to the experience.


In conclusion, Anodyne is definitely another casualty of the great delay-fest in the queue, but it was a decent experience once I finally got to get into it. The story isn’t too engaging at first, but it does pick up, albeit not too much enough for me to force myself through the duller parts of the game, especially with the game’s absolutely pitiful performance here on Switch. On other platforms where this game hopefully runs a lot better, I’d easily recommend this as a decent zelda-like, and the core gameplay loop of exploring and being at unease was more enjoyable than I expected.

Definitely not an actiony title by any means, but for a puzzle-like game, Anodyne is a title I can see some breeze through as they’re watching a twitch stream or playing alone in the dark, and while I definitely feel the Dev’s later titles are easier to recommend, this ain’t a bad start. Just, maybe play this game on anything that isn’t the Switch for the sake of not having a bad framerate or godawful scrolling, since after finally giving it an honest marathon session, I easily can see that being a dealbreaker for some like it was for me, and no matter how many times I tried to throw myself at this game in hopes the performance would be something I could get around, it just came back like a recurring nightmare.

I give Anodyne a 5 out of 10.

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