have had this thing about them. The heroes are always bigger than
life, be it Squall from FF8 or Serge from Chrono Cross - I suspect
Squaresoft has something to do with this. Anyways as I was saying, you
don't really meet heroes that you can on some level connect to. Enter
Anachronox - the latest offering from gaming genius Tom Hall's stable.
Anachronox has the weirdest assembly of characters that I have ever come
across in a RPG. Ranging from a has-been-glorified-Dick Tracy-wannabe
detective to a grumpy old man called Grumpos to a
once-the-brightest-in-the-universe-now-a-heretic scientist to a small fat
robot to a washed out alcoholic superhero to a knife wielding stripper
ooops exotic dancer to (hold your breathe) a planet.
on consoles and RPGs on the PC have always been very different, to tell
you the truth I am not all that big a fan of PC RPGs. For me they are a
bit nerdy. Anyways Anachronox has a distinctly console based RPG feeling
From character development to settings, Anachronox has an epic feel about
it, but the game never takes itself seriously. The script is extremely
well written. Some of the
cutscenes especially the splitting of the planet Sunder and the post
sunder-split movies are really really well done and are some of the best I
have ever seen in any form of gaming. Not because they had
earth-shattering graphics or something (which they didn't) but because
they were extremely well directed and written. Aside from that character
interaction has been nicely handled. It's clever and filled with all
the things you'd never find in your conventional PC Role Playing Game.
Sometimes it actually feels like you are playing a movie.
Interface design and controls are the make-or-break factor in a RPG (aside
from the story). Luckily, the interface design in Anachronox is very
smartly done and is pretty out-there if you will, Sly Boots - the game's
hero- has a FDA - Flying Digital Assistant. The ever present cursor in
RPGs is explained in the game's storyline, answering the age old question
- what the f&%k is that cursor doing in the game (except
pointing-and-clicking). In Anachronox, the cursor is Boot's FDA which in
turn is his secretary Fatima who he had had digitized after she died.
Fatima keeps track of your quests, your saves and logs while providing
background info about your quests. The control scheme in the game is the
lovechild of the third person controls coupled with the classic
point and click controls. Makes for pretty effective controlling of you r
characters through the immersive worlds.
Talking of worlds, the worlds in the Anachronox universe are pretty
believable starting form the dark, beautiful and gothic monasteries of
Hephaestus to the open ended twenty-fifth century metallic structure of
the Sender Station, the worlds are very immersive. Locales are very
different from what you would expect. One moment you are running though
sterilized long metallic corridors in Democratus, the next moment
you are doing a sexy turn-on-all-the -women-out-there man dance in the Red
light district in the Sender Station.
Inventory management is a breeze in this game. Instead of rummaging though
all your stuff to see which stuff fits where, the games just uses what
needs to be used when and where. Almost all puzzles work on this
principle, so item management isn't at all a problem. Item gathering on
the other is a bitch, most of the time you are gonna miss a few things
lying around here and there, like I once found a annulet of Beefiness in a
small porch in Hephaestus hidden in the bushes. Apart from that, the game
manages to hide "item gathering" under a veil called
"Detective Work", whatever you call it it's a drag sometimes.
The game is basically based on errands. Talk to one guy, he will ask you
to talk some other guy all the way accross town who will ask you to pick
up his wife's bra from the cleaners...wait or was that a stinky sock from
The gameplay is tweaked up nicely in the characters having special world
skills. Like Boots' would be "Lockpicking" or PAL-18 the robot's
would be hacking computers or "Computalk". These special skills
are little minigames, i.e. like to use Boots' skill to unlock doors, you
have to guess a series of numbers before time runs out. There is an
indicator that tells you how close or wide of the mark you are.
There aren't any random battles.
Enemies are set in pre-scripted locations and battles happen right then
and there. No longer are you whisked away in a flourish of screen
transitions to some faraway battlefield.
Just because the fights
are no longer random doesn't mean they are avoidable. A fixed number of
preordained fights take away from the leveling-up and character strength
development. Sure, you can exit some areas and let enemies reset back into
place, but the fighting and leveling simply lack a little something and
feel almost arbitrary.
also a Materia-esque magic system (dubbed 'Mystech') that isn't very
interesting. Using little elementor bugs, you can create all sorts of
nifty spells. It's got depth, certainly, but feels derivative.
As a whole, the battles
play conventionally to a fault. Still, some strategy has been added in the
ability to move your character to set points, and your FDA replaces
traditional menu wading nicely.
The game is built on the Quake II engine. It's not bad, per se, but
certainly dated; you need look no further than the blocky, overly pointed
character models. The environmental design makes the most of the situation
- beautiful gothic cathedrals and spaceship terminals that feel like
airports really add some immersion.
The sounds and music in the game are absolutely well done. Ranging from
the cool serene plinking of a sad piano in the monasteries to the raging
techno beats in the Redlight district. Voice overs are used in the game's
more important events. Highlighting the character's attitudes, the voice
overs are well chosen, I still haven't totally figured out why Sly Boot's
robot, the Pal-18, has the voice of Eric Cartman (South Park). Hmm...fat
little boy, fat little robot - sure, why not?
It's ironic that bug collection is one of the in-game tasks, since the
game itself is a locust infestation of bugs - programming bugs, that is.
Prior to the patch, there was a doozy of a bug that gave you unlimited
money. I wouldn't mind one of those bugs in my ATM, but it's a bit much in
a game. The most recent patch released fixes a long list of problems, but
still not all of them.
I just finished
fighting a major boss in the Mystech tunnels. A small cutscene ensues, and
then....Windows desktop! Maybe your computer will never run into a crash,
but with the infinite number of PC combinations, I'll doubt anyone will be
completely free of the dreaded bugs.
For some inexplicable reason, the two graphic modes are Low-Res: 640 x
480, and Hi-Res: 1280 x 960. What about everything in between? There's a
way to decrease the upper limit of the resolution, but it involves
muddling through configuration files. Not for the uninitiated.
I loved the game, but there are pretty minor flaws that doesn't really
hamper gameplay. But look at it this way AMERICANS
made an RPG. It's a pretty good game, despite the stupid puzzle Rho Bowman
has to face in the temples. The writing and the design is fresh and
innovative. I would recommend this game to every console RPG fan out