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Surreal retro action-RPG Anodyne is coming to PS4 next month

And it all started with a Spyro The Dragon session...

It’s the ’90s. My friend invited me to his house after school to play Spyro the Dragon on the PlayStation. That day, my relationship with the PlayStation began, as its low-poly graphics and hypnotic music glued me to the screen. Little did I know that years later, I’d be on the other side of the screen with my own game appearing on the PS4.

In my surreal, retro-handheld-styled action-adventure game Anodyne, portals float through a void, glowing with the landscapes of humid marshlands, Picasso-esque green fields, and cityscapes. These places exist in the mind of the protagonist, Young, and you can visit them when Anodyne comes to the PS4 on 19th September!

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So how did Anodyne, a small project, get to the PS4?

Just an idea

On a March afternoon in 2012, I sat on the steps of my college’s library, sketching game ideas. At the time I was focused on computer science studies and internship hunting. I had made some money with small games, but I had no expectation that one day, one of those games would be on the PS4.

It’s easy to view the past with nostalgia and overlook Anodyne’s long journey. That summer, I was in Manhattan, designing levels during free time from my internship. In the haze of muggy commutes and Javascript bugfixing, I understood that it was important to finish Anodyne. And that this might be my last chance to attempt something like it before graduating.

Now, working alone presents challenges. While I could compose songs and design levels, I knew that trying to sell a game looking like this might present a problem.

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So, I searched for an artist.

Racing against time

Eventually, a friend introduced me to Marina Kittaka.

I described Anodyne’s goals to her:

It was to be surreal, like early, dream-like indie RPG games. The world would be both natural and urban, patched together with dream logic and themes of insecurity, escapism and relationships.
The mechanics were influenced by classic handheld action-adventure games, but more minimal. The player only gets a broom as a weapon, as I wanted to hone in on these games’ simple and fun mechanics.

Thanks to a demo and past small games, I showed I knew how to execute on my ideas. Marina and I quickly hit it off as a team after she sent me some of her pixel art work.

With our graduations on the horizon, we had to work fast. In addition to art, Marina figured that without a story or characters, the game’s world might fall flat. She quickly began to write narrative elements, giving Anodyne a colorful cast of characters.

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Progress went fast, slowing a bit when we returned to school in the fall. It’s quite stressful to remember, but somehow, swamped by coursework and the youthful drama of college, we managed to finish Anodyne by January 2013. Phew.

Porting to the PS4

Years later when showing Anodyne in Tokyo, I was introduced to Nnooo, who helped me port Anodyne to PS4. Due to Anodyne’s engine, it was an immense technical challenge to get it working on PS4, but a few years later, Nnooo’s amazing porting team engineered a brilliant solution! I feel very lucky to have met Nnooo.

So, I hope you’ll get lost in, and perhaps be influenced by, Anodyne’s dream world when it hits PS4 on 19th September! Do let me know if you enjoy the game! Farewell.

6 Comments
2 Author replies

Soundtrack, please.

Sean Han Tani 18 August, 2018 @ 02:17
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The soundtrack’s currently available at my Bandcamp! https://htch.bandcamp.com/album/anodyne

“In my surreal, retro-handheld-styled action-adventure game”

Any chance of a vita version of this one? It looks brilliant, like the games i used to play on my game boy advance. This would be perfect for vita if the system can handle it.

I will keep an eye on this one either way. Looks really interesting. Congratulations on the upcoming release!

Sean Han Tani 18 August, 2018 @ 02:18
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Thank you for looking forward to the game!

We play in 4:3 screen mode? Is this a joke?

That’s not 4:3. That’s closer to 1:1 (although It’s taller than it is wide, so it’s more like 8:9)

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Any chance o a PS Vita version?

Played it on Steam, and the game is actually pretty good! Not sure if I will play it again on PS4 (and too many good new games will be released this fall, to be honest), but recommend it to anyone, who is into such kind of games and hasn’t played it yet

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