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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)

Lucius 3 is the final part of the movie inspired horror adventure trilogy where Lucius has to return to his home island to fulfil 7 prophecies in order to open the gateway to hell and potentially bring an end to the world. Featuring an open world layout it’s up to you to explore the world and try to piece together the clues from the scroll in order to enact specific pre-ordained acts of violence against people in order to bring forth the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Whilst the open world nature adds more freedom to explore the world there are a few issues that result from the way things are done, as whilst some games like the old silent hill games would lock off area’s with finding specific keys prompting you to return to specific area’s this game relies upon activating specific cutscenes and triggers in order to allow access to certain area’s prompting that you’re not allowed to enter yet if you try to go to key area’s too soon. Whilst this prevents solving certain puzzles early it does create issues that mean if you hear one trigger hint and go to a certain area before hitting another specific prompt you’re going to end up stuck pretty early on and presuming you’re locked out of doing a certain action to get into the mayors house, and this lead me to go on a wild adventure lost unable to progress for a long time in my gameplay.

This isn’t the worst thing that could happen however as there are a number of side plots you can pursue along the way if you go off the rails from the main track with special events to eliminate the townspeople in a variety of ways some of which add further nods to horror movies with easter eggs. I tried to avoid this on my playthrough though as there’s a big theme throughout the game where Gabriel is constantly telling you it’s not too late to turn things around and abandon the path of evil, so I was trying to make my playthrough a chaotic good playthrough (with some accidents happening) and embrace the side of light only taking out those who really were evil and deserved it.

Spoilers, it’s hard not to go into a specific part of the game where later on events occur however I feel the spoiler is actually something that will free you up in your gameplay allowing you to go explore further and pursue the alternate elimination plots. Obviously I stated that I was trying to save as many of the townspeople as possible only pursuing those who deserved to be taken out, whilst accidentally flinging someone off a fort and perhaps ending someone’s life trying to open a portal to another dimension. The spoiler is that none of this matters, whilst I did seem to get a bug that jumped one of the prophecies straight into the church confrontation by wearing the white clothes too early (again from a clear hint in game to do so) there’s a scene where everyone in the town have decided they have to take you out in order to stop bad things happening in town.

At that point you’ve got to start literally vaporising everyone as they rush you down and whilst it’s an interesting minigame trying to catch out the people sneaking around the edges you do end up with regrets for deciding not to eliminate other people or pursue and search out those plotlines when you’ve been presented the opportunity. Taking them out would make this scene easier but that’s not the point, it’s the disappointment to miss out on all of the special scenes and sidelines that really hit you as you’re going to get a lot of enjoyment from pursuing those storylines and seeing all of the movie based easter eggs revolving around them.

I focused on following the plotline directly after the initial problems caused by getting sidetracked, though I don’t think there’s much of an issue after the first incident and even after you move on through the chapters of the game you’re going to be fine to explore the island for additional plotlines is going to add a lot more length to the game as well as enjoyment, without effecting the outcome for the end of the game and the ultimate decision over good and evil.

The game took me around 7 hours to get through however you have to account for getting lost in the first act due to events being locked off from activation and then looking over them repeatedly, but balance that with rushing through the rest of the chapters you could get more playtime exploring and looking for all of the additional actions you can do throughout the game and for the price of the game you’re getting a decent horror narrative adventure with some interesting puzzle mechanics. Whilst I feel that some of the progress related boundaries can cause some issues they’re relatively minor and I did get a funny bug where all of the towns people started sinking through the ground into hell perhaps because I took too long or maybe because of finding some drugs in a bag in the game but these are easily overlooked and not majorly gamebreaking.

If you’re looking for a new adventure game and enjoy horror movies this is a pretty good game for you as it’s crammed with references from a number of classics as well as being an enjoyable game. I would recommend giving the game a try.

Get Lucius 3 for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/513290/Lucius_III