by Lord Badger
Anuchard is a civilization restoration action RPG brought to us by developer StellerNull and Publisher Freedom Games. What exactly is a civilization restoration action RPG? I hear you shout. It is an action RPG. Seriously that’s what it is. (I have some reservations about including the word action in there but we will get to that later.) I have no idea why there is this current trend for indie devs to “invent” new names for already existing genres. I love indie games for their creativity and artistry. The unique and original gameplay mechanics they bring are the lifeblood of an often stale industry. But please for the love of Nimah stop making up bullshit, 6-word long genre names when there is already a genre that covers what the game is! Now we have cleared that up let’s get into Anuchard
Legend has it that Anuchard was once a prosperous collection of floating continents. Looked over and was blessed by the great guardians’ no one wanted for anything. Until the war broke out that is. 100 years later only the orchard exists and no one living can remember the war, how it started or even what it was about.
Due to this lack of historical knowledge, no one actually knows how to navigate the mysterious dungeon located outside the orchard. This has led to people “dungeon scavenging” the act of entering the dungeon with the aim of gathering resources and returning to the orchard. Unfortunately, no one ever returns from the dungeon and overnight a statue of them appears in the main hall.
So just recap, civilization has regressed, historical records are fragmented and incomplete, people go into the dungeon to get resources but never return, and a statue of them mysteriously appears in the main hall because nobody in living memory has ever returned from the dungeon alive. So please for all that is good please explain why anybody would venture into the dungeon ever! Seriously why would anyone ever go in there!
This all changes of course when one day you become the Bellweilder. A figure of prophecy from deep within Anuchard’s history. A mysterious and legendary figure that has the power to traverse the dungeon and ascend Anuchard to its former glory. Can you rise to the challenge, rebuild society and unravel the secret of the dungeon?
Anuchard’s graphical style is brilliant. Sort of pixel-Esque and cartoony yet extremely colourful. It has a wonderful indie feel to it. Looks a little basic yet beautiful. It gives you the impression that whilst it looks great, Anuchard’s developers have focused on gameplay over graphics. The character animations are fun, especially the fighting moves.
The colourful, almost pixel style graphics blend well with the game’s soundtrack and really help to immerse you into the world of Anuchard. The moment you start up Anuchard you are ready to delve deep into this adventure.
You can probably tell I have mixed feelings about Anuchard at this point. I like the graphical style but have some issues with the story. That confusion of feelings is settled soon as you start playing…and not for the better, I’m afraid.
Let’s start off by breaking down that ridiculous genre explanation. A Civilization restoration action RPG. So civilization restoration. sounds cool right? makes you think that you will rebuild a complex society that will have massive complications in-game right? Nope.
Each dungeon you complete progresses the story brings back the lost areas of Anuchard…all two of them! which brings you access to new dungeons… that’s it really. Yeah, there are upgrades you can complete by collecting resources for the dungeon. Sadly these upgrades have absolutely no impact on the game at all! Most are just a simple change to the look of an area.
Seriously, upgrades such as a rice field do absolutely nothing but add a rice field to a village. You cant interact with it, it has absolutely no effect on the game, story or even the npc’s. It is completely pointless. So in reality we can scratch civilization restoration from the game’s description.
That leaves us with an action RPG. I have no idea how Stellarnull has the cheek to include the word action here. All the action takes place in the dungeons. which is fair enough but they can be completed in about 20 minutes. In between dungeons, Anuchard plays more like a visual novel. reams and reams of dialogue that progress the story in a short of vague but covering tidbits of information to keep you invested but really you stop caring.
So that just leaves us with RPG. You do play the role of the Bellweilder so in that sense, it is an RPG but then so is every game by that logic. You always take on the role of some character. Most RPGs are defined by a mechanical progression such as a skill tree or similar. Annuchard has about half a dozen upgrades to your weapon and a health/move boost from eating a meal…that is it.
The weird thing is that Anuchard describes itself as a civilization restoration action RPG when it is blatantly none of these things. Yet it omits that every dungeon is littered with puzzles!? Fair enough it is pretty much the same puzzle in about 50 variations but the word puzzle is the one adjective that could be used to describe Anuchard and they don’t use it!
Anuchard is a relatively short game. It took me about 10 hours to finish but by Nimah, it was a slog. The developers have obviously tried to convey some sort of social commentary through Anuchard’s story (as quite a few indie games do). It aims to make the player think about mankind’s predilection for greed, laziness and avarice. The problem is that the message is delivered so clumsily and sometimes as blatant as a punch to the face that it fails to have any impact. It actually comes across as quite preachy in places. It is obviously intended to be some sort of parable that you draw parallels. Unfortunately, you are just so bored from waiting to get to the next dungeon you wanna tell the NPCs talking to you to just fuck off.
If you actually get to the end of Anuchard you are faced with a major decision to make. One that will affect mankind for generations. By the time you get to that point, you are well past caring though.
Anuchard looks great and has some good ideas. It just fails to deliver on anything other than its art style. All I was left with by the end was the thought ” I love indie games, but not all indie games deserved to be loved.”