Anodyne 2 heralds the return of anodyne bringing things to a new dimension quite literally as this time you explore a 3d realm in the overworld, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t stay true to it’s roots however as the 2d realms still exist, essentially in self contained dungeons as you have to enter people within the 3d realm inside their own nanoverse to clear the dust from inside of them in the 2d realms.

The plot itself follows the story of nano cleaner nova, born into the world by the center’s will to be sent into individuals in order to extract dust crystals from them which have formed in their subconscious as a result of fixation and obsession over desires manifesting within them, and by cleaning out these nova receives cards transformed from the dust by the glandilock seed within her. A lifelong companion visible at the side of the screen at all times, only coming awake in the presence of such dust clusters and perhaps getting a little too excited at their collection.

These cards along with collected dust are channelled into a prism in the center in order to ward off duststorms in the overworld and expand the center’s control and influence over the world. A clever way of gating off progress within the game through the overworld but also being used as a clever narrative device limiting the progress you can make through the world in order to keep you to smaller and more straightforward nanoverses until you’ve progressed through a certain point of the game.

The gameplay arc follows exploration through the 3D world interacting with the people around and discovering more about the world of new theland, whereas most of the puzzles and gameplay will takeplace in the 2d nanoverses within characters in the world, mostly in self contained dungeons so to speak within these people and whilst this limits the number of secrets there are to discover or ways to break the world which may be expected by people who played the original anodyne it helps with the storytelling as these subuniverses are glimpses into the subconscious of the individual and tell their own particular story whilst you’re in their internal world.

Every transition to the nanoverse involves defeating a rhythm based game matching the colour and direction of the incoming dust crystals, however I felt that I would have liked there to be more progress through defeating bosses in some stronger dust infestations and the like, where the only real sense of strong combat came in the form of two keys shooting love at each other later, or a wrestling battle system within it’s self contained dustverse other than the final boss itself, and this could have easily been incorporated in the form of inner demons and the like to match the lore being told by the game.

I liked that although they didn’t have the ability to truly break the game with mechanics to abuse that some forms of things being not quite right with the world existed throughout and that in particular there was a very broken NPC in the desert who took you to a special 2d/3d hybrid universe in it’s own spacetime and perhaps reality itself if you imagine that there was a greater universe at large furtherstill outside of the game boundaries, and that the game devs themselves still have a way of communicating to you the player directly in some aspects of the game; though I did find myself missing any way to truly break outside of the game into the minus realm or shadow realities outside of the intended game universe and find hidden secrets like the relics found in the out of bounds area’s of the first game for those who looked hard enough.

That being said that although these elements aren’t incorporated in the game even though such breaking mechanics and out of bounds unusual things do exist in 3d games of old and could have made a great addition to the game this doesn’t take away from the fact that the game is still really good and has a very gripping and interesting plot, ultimately giving you a choice in path’s at a divergent point, and also has many nods to the original game both in the characters but also locations (and even the boss battles) which may even hint that this could be a prequel with events as they unfold within the game, and whilst I originally thought that the addition of the nexus universe in 2d was also just an easter egg this actually becomes part of a larger 2d universe you are able to explore within the game and also granting you access to shrink further still into the picoverse.

Although the picoverse is very straightforward and cleverly matches styles with the commodore 64 era of 8 bit games and although larger more open world area’s of the nanoverse exist within the nexus realms this still doesn’t seem to provide any out of bounds access or special area’s of that nature or even further dungeons within dungeons of the overworld of the original game, though there is a clever taunt when you first enter asking why you’ve taken so long to reach this point as essentially it would have been the start of the game in anodyne, it’s quite far into anodyne 2 and the nexus keeper presumes you must’ve idled on the title screen perhaps for steam card drops (though he doesn’t directly make that reference I know people who do idle on titles for such before ever going to play a game)

Plotlines exist between many of the realms of the game piecing together a greater storyline as to what is going on even though each universe is it’s self contained environment, and a greater storyline of being more than just your being and how life is more about the friends and experiences you make along the way rather than simply being your job or a tool, and even further story similarities can be glimpsed without spoiling too much of the plot as these are things you will want to explore and discover yourself on your own journey through the game, because it’s all about the fun you have on the way not just what the game is.

There aren’t any awkward platforming challenges in the 3d universe and the puzzles are fairly easy to pick up and understand, and there are at least 9 hours to play through the game to a basic ending with a full completion one taking even more than that still, and although I would like there to be the super secret out of bounds out of storyline stuff, or some references to the artifacts of the first game existing within the 3D realms the game is it’s own entity and still a very fun and enjoyable experience. I would have liked perhaps a little more enemy variety as I feel they’ve toned down the number of different enemies and methods of progression from the first game but still this can be forgiven due to the nature of limiting the universes into their own entities and maintaining a separate 3d overworld, and whilst the bosses were battles you may have already fought in the first game in slightly different guises the nature of the world and the way things are feels different enough to not be stale or overly familiar especially if it’s been a few years since you played the first anodyne.

Get Anyodyne 2 for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/877810/Anodyne_2_Return_to_Dust/
I would recommend getting the game if you get a chance, you’re going to have plenty of hours of gameplay and the puzzles and locations within the game do feel different enough to not feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over in each nanoverse which is remarkable considering the nature of the 2D universes themselves and the limited tools at hand, even in the 3D universe eeking out new content in just the right times and perhaps even hinting that they’re adding the content to give you a greater experience and more reasons to re-explore in order to keep it fresh. Pacing these changes out at just the right times to leave you with a fresh sense of wonder exploring the worlds at large. (or nanoscale)