Saturday, August 13, 2016

Anode Review (XONE)

Between Quatros Origins and now Anode, the Xbox One is suddenly seeing a resurgence of great puzzle games and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Playing like a mix of Columns and Puzzle Fighter, but with some unique twists of its own, Anode is another outstanding and addictive puzzler that no fan of the genre should pass up.  See our full review for details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Kittehface Software
  • Developer: Kittehface Software
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Pros: Fresh take on puzzle games; addictive; nice presentation
  • Cons: Colorblind folks can’t play it
  • MSRP: $4

Anode is a color-matching puzzle game where pieces made of 3 or 4 blocks fall from the top of the screen into a well and you have to rotate and position them so that pieces of the same color are touching.  Special detonator blocks for each of the 5 colors are also mixed in, and you have to use the right color detonator to destroy blocks of that color to earn points.  Blocks of the same color and linked not only horizontally and vertically, but diagonally as well, so you can build long chains of connected blocks that spiderweb across the screen. 

Just like in other similar games, particularly Puzzle Fighter, you can chain combos together so detonators will fall onto the right colors to create massive chain reactions and earn tons of points.  You also earn items to use that destroy certain colors, give you a neutral detonator that works on every color, and more.  In another interesting twist, there are also coupler blocks that fall that, when you combine them together correctly, allow you to link different colored blocks to create even bigger combos.

When you put all of this together, Anode is a surprisingly deep and satisfying puzzler that is a lot more than just dropping blocks into the well.  Learning how to effectively use the items and how to think ahead to create chains has a dramatic impact on how long you can last and, thus, the scores you can achieve.  I honestly have only just started learning how to use the coupler blocks properly and I can already tell utilizing them will have a huge impact on how I play the game. 

Anode is just plain fun and addictive just like the classic puzzle games we all grew up with, but it does a lot of new and unique things so that it can stand on its own.  My only complaint is that it doesn’t have any colorblind options whatsoever, which is kind of a big deal considering the core gameplay involves matching red, blue, green, yellow, and purple blocks.  If you are colorblind, you won’t be able to play it, and that’s a bummer.

Anode has quite a few modes to play in such as an endless mode, with or without items, as well as mission modes where you accomplish specific tasks the game tells you to, score attack modes where you have to reach score milestones as fast as possible, or timed modes where you earn as many points as possible in a set time.  Plus you can play local multiplayer in all of these modes and each mode and variant has online leaderboards as well.  For me, personally, endless mode with items is more than enough, but having all of the other options is simply outstanding.  And all of this content for just $4 is ridiculous.

The presentation in Anode is decent enough.  The game has an outer space sci-fi theme, for some reason, but it looks good.  The gameplay area is nice and clear and the colors are bright and easy enough to see.  I have to admit I can’t remember what the game sounds like, though, thanks to background music finally being available on Xbox One.

All in all, Anode is another great puzzle game on Xbox One.  It isn’t just a copy of a million other puzzle games, either, as it adds its own unique twists to typical color-matching titles that make it truly stand on its own.  I love it, and I love that it is just $4.  Seriously, Anode at $4 and Quatros Origins at $5 make Tumblestone at $20 seem like a huge overpriced piece of crap (cause it is).  Anode is awesome and I highly recommend it.