Developer: Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka
Price: $4.99 ($2.99 launch price)
Version Reviewed: 1.507.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Anodyne, Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka’s love letter to the Zelda series, especially the Game Boy entries, is finally out on mobile. After an interesting PC release that saw promotion from a “Pirate Bay” sale that led to the game getting noticed enough to release on Steam, now mobile players can play this mysterious, ethereal action-RPG.

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The story and the world of Anodyne are largely mysterious: players control Young, the chosen one, off to save the world, but with little instruction as to why or where to go. This leads to a world that opens up without much direction as to where to go next, much like the original Zelda.

Seriously, Anodyne will make Zelda fans gleeful, as this game takes many cues from Nintendo’s famous franchise, while applying a vibe all its own. There are enemies to defeat, puzzles to solve, and even tricky overhead platforming sections. The game keeps what’s happening at arm’s length from the player, helping to spur on the mysterious story and gameplay. The eerie soundtrack sets the mood perfectly.

Anodyne for iOS is pretty much a perfect port of the PC version…almost too perfect. The game was built in Flash, so the game is virtually unmodified in its mobile incarnation. It still makes reference to “C” and “X” keys on a keyboard which are represented in-game by virtual buttons. The game itself runs in a window with the conspicuous virtual controls on the bottom or sides depending on portrait or landscape orientation.

The virtual controls are passable, though I definitely liked playing with a gamepad on PC much better. Portrait looks nicer because the scaling is better, but it’s not for those with large thumbs – the jumps are hard enough as it is!

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Anodyne is simultaneously brutal and forgiving. There will be a lot of deaths, especially for the first-time player: the game isn’t afraid to throw lots of harmful enemies and deadly traps including bottomless pits. Patience is a virtue and necessary to get anywhere. The controls don’t necessarily make things a lot easier, either.

What does help is a liberal checkpoint system. Any death rapidly returns the player to their last checkpoint. As well, if a player collects an item like a key, then dies and returns to a checkpoint, they don’t lose the item when returning to the checkpoint. This helps a lot, along with the fact that escaping dungeons and returning to the teleport hub is easy.

For those who want Zelda on their iOS device, this might be the closest thing that we’ll ever get. The port is far from perfect, and I recommend playing it on a computer if possible instead. However, this is worth playing in some form, and Anodyne‘s mysterious retro action-RPG gameplay is a worthy experience.

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