Anodyne 2: Return to Dust Review (PlayStation 4)

How nano-dust is infecting New Zealand islanders, Anodyne 2 : Return to Dust tells the story of Nova, the nano-cleaner whose job it is to seek out the sick and crawl into their bodies to suck up the dust. Players explore beautiful and exciting locations to rescue rescued creatures from the Nano Dust.

On the surface, Anodyne 2 : Return to Dust is a 3D platformer similar to the classic PS1/N64 games, in which you traverse the semi-open areas of the world to teleport into the soul of the city. To teleport into the soul, you must interact with it and press the X key; a failed attempt at a rhythm-based mini-game to overcome resistance and get the soul inside.

Once you teleport into the soul, the game switches to a 16-bit perspective, like the old Pokémon games. You have to move from one area to another and destroy the enemies with your suction gun. Use your weapon to suck up blocks to throw at enemies. The problem is that if you run out of blocks, you have to go back and reload the room to reload the usable blocks. If you manage to purify your soul, you’ll be given dust to dispose of in the game’s city, Kenote. When you unload the dust, you can activate the island’s dust storms and unlock new areas.

After the first few minutes you enter a semi-open world where you can walk around and find new missions and things, unfortunately the open world is very dead; nothing happens, and for some reason I had flashes of Superman 64 where you fly through an empty city; that’s the feeling I got when I entered the open world environment. You can also drive in the city, but the car is a bit heavy to drive in the city.

The biggest problem with the game is the lack of help/hints. Since the game looks a bit cheesy in its 3D portion, you never really know where to go or who to talk to, since most of the NPCs are always there so you don’t really know if they are part of the scenery or if they are giving you useful information on how to proceed or where to go. You *know* the goal of the game, but figuring out how to achieve it is another story.

Anodyne 2 : Return to Dust looks surprisingly good, both with the open PS1/N64 units and the 8-bit Pokémon air zones. It’s a nod to previous generations, and despite all the visual feats these days, I wouldn’t mind this kind of game but more polished. I won’t gloss over the fact that the open world looks cheap and boring, but overall it’s nice to get back to that visual style. As for the soundtrack, it’s interesting. It mixes scary themes with majesty, things you might hear in a second-rate Final Fantasy game.

I’ll be honest, when I first downloaded Anodyne 2: Dust made me feel like I was in the late 90s, where all the guys were playing N64 and PS1 with their blocky graphics. As strange as it sounds, the old school graphics kept me enthralled despite the confusing story, and I enjoyed the mix of open world and aerial vision, but once I got into the open world environment, my enjoyment waned as it became frustratingly boring due to the lack of guidance. If you can tolerate the weaknesses, you might find a hidden gem somewhere, otherwise it’s an easy pass.

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