Man and beast can live in perfect harmony when they want to. However, this balance can be easily shifted and the consequences can be devastating. This is exactly what happens in Anuchard. It’s a game that blends humanity, the animal kingdom, and gargantuan all-powerful guardians.
Developed by StellarNull and published by Freedom Games, this is an adventure RPG tale. It uses some phenomenal retro gaming aspects and combines them with hand-drawn dungeons. What’s more, it has a bizarre story that is touching and comical. In short, it will fill older gamers with nostalgia, while appeasing younger players with its charm.
Anuchard is repetitive.
Sadly, the core concept of Anuchard is repetitive! The gameplay revolves around dangerous dungeons, many quests, and simple puzzles. Unfortunately, these rarely evolve and, subsequently, Déjà vu kicks in very early on. Now, this isn’t to say it’s boring, because it isn’t. It’s merely a game that follows a strict model, and this is part of its old-school ways. Consequently, to get the most out of this, you’ll have to lower your expectations a little.
The story is set in the kingdom of Anuchard. This was once a thriving and magical place that was blessed by 5 guardians. However, without warning, they left! The skies caved in and the world was destroyed. All that survived the destruction was a tiny sliver of land. Above ground, the people lived off the orchard and barely survived. Below the ground is a maze of tunnels in a place known as the dungeon. This magical and dangerous area is not for the faint of heart, and this is where you come in. Unbeknownst to you, you are the Bellwielder. This title is given to a hero who controls the Audros bell. You must delve deep into each dungeon to fight monsters, solve puzzles, and rescue trapped souls. Eventually, you will face each of the guardians and convince them to bless Anuchard and save the day.
Simple puzzles and combat.
When a game focuses on puzzles and combat, you want to be challenged. However, sadly, this isn’t the case. Most of the puzzles found within Anuchard are simple and obvious. This understated approach was a mistake, as the gameplay was too easy. Consequently, most problems were solved in no time and this was disappointing. Luckily, though, there were some fleeting Eureka moments. These normally involved whacking a ball of light off several walls to activate a switch. Now, this involved dexterity, timing, and planning, and this was fantastic. I wish the developers had used this as its foundation. Had they done so, the action would have been vastly improved.
Each dungeon is constructed of several levels. To reach the end goal, you must avoid traps, unlock doors, and kill monsters. En route, you’ll discover hidden paths, collectables, and data records. These holograms were used to drip-feed the lore of the land. Subsequently, it was an excellent way of adding depth to the story and I applaud this approach. Navigating each area was fun, but it could have been much better if the aforementioned puzzles were tougher.
The combat was another area that should have been better! Disappointingly, it was much too easy and only the guardian encounters will test you. However, even they follow a predictable pattern and will quickly be vanquished. Yes, there is an array of monsters unique to each dungeon. But destroying them is all too familiar. Each foe has either a shield or not. If it has armour, you simply smash it against a wall and bludgeon it to death. However, if it arrives unprotected, things are simpler still as you just swing away until they are no more. Annoyingly, this is the extent of the fighting mechanics and, understandably, I wanted much more.
Anuchard is brilliantly old-school.
Anuchard has a pixelated and almost isometric approach. Its blend of earthy tones and garish colours is reminiscent of both Sega Mega Drive and SNES gaming. I adored this simple approach, as it was charming and easy to look at. This dated aesthetic extended to the wonderful and varied sprites. What’s more, the smaller areas, easy to navigate town, and uncomplicated dungeons, were never overwhelming.
The old-school style can also be heard in the whimsical audio. There is a lighthearted and enjoyable soundtrack and OTT but basic sound effects. I enjoyed how the music changed for each dungeon, and this alleviated some repetition.
Unfortunately, the controls were cumbersome and tedious. Tiny and oddly placed hitboxes make selecting objects a challenging task. What’s more, the unresponsive buttons ensure that the tougher puzzles are just a bit harder. On top of this, I found myself rolling instead of hitting my foes. This was annoying and usually made combat unnecessarily frustrating. Other than this, the control layout is easy to understand and quick to master.
The ruined kingdom of Anuchard needs your help to rebuild it. Thankfully, a robot from the dungeons is willing to do the work. Unsurprisingly, though, they won’t do it for free and you must find resources hidden within each dungeon. If you don’t find every single item, you can’t rebuild the kingdom. Alongside this, you must locate every lost soul on your journey. These two elements, combined, add to longevity and replay value.
Anuchard is a repetitive retro RPG.
Anuchard had such potential to be fantastic. Sadly, however, it falls short because of its repetition and lack of difficulty. I enjoyed the quests, the whimsical characters, and the colourful landscapes. However, its poor controls, simple combat elements, repetitive ways, and mediocre puzzle mechanics undermine it. All things considered, I loved the retro approach and recommend it because of it. Can you save the kingdom and bring mankind and beasts back together? Search the dungeons, save the souls, and reanimate the guardians.