Anodyne 2 *spoilers*

Feel free to share your thoughts about Anodyne 2 at your own pace.

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I have so many good things to say about Anodyne 2.

I just started replaying it and the feeling of it is so strong. Starting with a letter from the artists is such a power move and I love it. I was so charmed opening it up for the first time. It’s like having them personally greet you and take your hand and lead you on an adventure. I Love Yolk Of Yummy. The humor is so like, pleasant and understated and strange in a way that feels funny and heartwarming and provoking at the same time.

Marina talks about ‘humidity’ in her art, like some quality of a place … the thickness and moisture of the air or something. I think she’s incredibly skillful, if not always in conventional craft ways (I think she learned 3D for Ano 2 and while the result is beautiful and engrossing it’s got its rough edges for sure). But like her ability to bring you the feeling of a place, coupled with Sean’s music, which similarly is just so intensely focused on feeling, together they’re so powerful!

I also want to say, and I’ll leave it kind of spoiler-reduced in case people are reading this while still early in the game, it is Such a broad and interesting and experience-rich thing. It surprised me in ways I was not at all expecting, many hours into the game. Which is a very brave thing to do! To wait so long to be so surprising.

Excited to go back through some of it (may or may not replay the whole thing) and excited to hear y’alls thoughts on it!

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I just played for a little bit and I wanted to try and give some initial impressions:

Gathering a conceptual knowledge of the world and the player-character context is novel here. The idea of a tutorial island being an egg is clever. There is enough consistency in the world-building through sporadic dialogue that the absurdity of the details is fun to retrospectively apply to the other stuff you have heard from character exposition. Talking about it that much feels like over-stating it, but I do notice the surreal wikipedia explanation aspect a lot as I play this first section.

The strange aspect of this world that I find myself thinking about most is this idea of a birth occurring when there is a need to clean. Also that the roomba understands grammar and verbs immediately without knowing the nouns. I suspect this is just a side-effect of having this 3.5th wall approach to the writing, but I am fascinated by it.

I do enjoy the world so far. Dominant themes of nurture where government-regulations for baby-food are mentioned as an aside in a place where the approachable “Dust” I am born to clean resembles radioactivity… is a combination that feels of this time.

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I played for a while today. I’m enjoying the liteness of the platforming and puzzles. I do enjoy exploring the world and packaging these tile-games as helping NPCs scattered around a 3D world and including custom art-assets for each is pleasant though not really pleasurable.
I’ve been looking at a lot of dharma stuff lately and I don’t know how many steps removed the inspiration for character-quests are from the dharma, but there is certainly some influence and I’m enjoying thinking of these quests as an enumeration on various afflictions and such. Some of the dharma stuff I look at is very bulletpoint-ish and it often feels like each dusty NPC is suffering from a particular attachment on those lists. I do think there is some significant distance between the game and that influence though since Nano never seems to apply the antidotes that the dharma prescribes. The pseudo-religious writing for the world is both rote and cutesy and it feels… watered-down a lot.
I think Psychonauts felt pretty heavy at times when considering the implications of the themes, and it had hard times providing specific advice with its dependence on theme rather than thoroughness of substance and I think Anodyne 2 has that problem as well. I do enjoy the particulars of this cultural mix though: games, hero-cycle, dharma, environmental activism. It’s not an uncommon mix, but… I don’t know, Anodyne 2 seems a bit more transparent in its form and priorities to me perhaps because of the smaller production scale. I like that quality because the demonstration is easier to study and I can apply it to more labor-intensive games.

I’m stuck on this puzzle.

Update: the solution has been provided.

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i’m replaying this! i forget how good the writing in this game is every time. also i dont think i’ll ever be tired of this screen.

@ clyde i think being heavy handed in declaring themes is not necessarily a bad thing. i find it important to say what you mean clearly instead of allowing the stuff you make to be easily reduced from like, “here’s a story abt religious oppression, labor, and identity” to “here’s a story abt ~the human experience~” or smth like that. which is probably part of why im such a big hecking fan of lucah: born of a dream and even the ocean, both of which are extremely heavy-handed about their themes lol

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@daffodilian Do you feel like Anodyne 2 is saying what it means clearly? Or that it results in being reduced to platitudes?
Not sure if I was clear, but in what I have played so far, I feel that it is much more in the realm of generic platitudes, particularly in how it presents afflictions on the level of an individual character, but presents lite-2d puzzles in place of actual solutions to those afflictions.

@clyde hm i think it’s pretty clear about what its themes are but i think we’re referencing different parts of the game, im thinking of things that happen later on and thought you meant something else… are you still in blue vale?

@clyde I think it’s definitely worth treating the text presented to you currently as still very much unfinished. It’s a game that doesn’t really show you its whole self until a good while into it. You might still think it’s lacking substance in the final evaluation but I think it’s at least more complex and delicate than it seems to be at first.

I am still in Blue Vale.

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It’s a bummer thing games do though where you kind of get a metaphor for a solution rather than a more complex/realistic solution when you’re solving a problem through gameplay, since gameplay tends to be systemsy and abstracted. I guess at least the metaphor is some sort of emotional resolution represented through systems, rather than the usual combat-as-problem-solver…

Platitudinal solutions seem to be hinted within those gameplay abstractions. And I do enjoy seeing instances where that is done. For instance I just played the one for the boulder-person who is trying to save the town in a very myopic way; the tower-ascension is presented as an optimal path by that character even though there are reasonable concerns by NPCs and one or two keys (not sure) if you go off the optimal path against the afflicted character’s certainty. The resolution to that scenario is that the afflicted character feels comfortable resting for the first time in a while.
I actually liked that one more than most of the others so it isn’t the best example of what I’m talking about, but it feels like in a lot of these the resolutions feel absurdly and deceptively sudden, brief, and based on the cleaner’s involvement. And typically, the line they leave you with feels like something someone would say who has heard advice a thousand times and they are just repeating it and going “i know, i know, i know…”. I get the impression that most of these troubled NPCs will go right back to their state of suffering once I leave and feel worse about themselves than they did before.

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