Anomaly 1729, by Anvil Drop LLC, is a third person gravity-navigation puzzle game. You control an android awakened in a mysterious geometric alien structure, braving variable gravity and moving platforms in the pursuit of answers.
Anomaly (what one assumes the main character is called) is controlled from a third person perspective, moving and jumping along in a slightly floaty manner. The main way they interact with the world is by shooting blue and orange energy blasts (no, not that kind) which activate the mechanisms used for puzzles.
The puzzles are surprisingly fresh, at least as far as the 3d movement puzzler genre goes. By shooting the diamond-shaped artifacts with your energy blasts you can cause several different effects, usually flipping or rotating the entire room with you in it. Something about how the gravity shifts and you land on the wall is oddly satisfying. For more flavor there are certain platforms which move or resist orientation in various ways when the “shift” is activated. While you can get lost in some of the larger rooms, the puzzles are actually elegantly signposted and easy to grasp. It is clear that quite a bit of design and artistry went into making this game.
Another puzzle that needs mentioning is the language-decoding side quest. An intriguing element of the game is that once you leave the main menu, the game is committed to using a secret cipher for all of the text in the game, be it scratched into walls, a tutorial message, or spoken by the shadowy support character. All of it comes in as a stream of unreadable alien symbols until you interact with a console which adds a few more letters to your vocabulary. There’s something oddly compelling about how mysterious the world starts out, and the way that understanding is doled out to the player just breeds intrigue.
It is a shame that the graphics sell the environment a little short. While some of the glowy sci-fi art is nice, repetitive textures and flat lighting are hardly flattering for a flat environment. The third person camera is also a little too close and static behind Anomaly to allow for a very good view of the environment, inhibiting platforming and orientation. The combination of these factors makes navigation somewhat difficult.
Counterbalancing these frustrating elements is the incredibly relaxing atmosphere of the game. While the world is mysterious, it is also a world of calming colors and warm glowing effects. The music is very relaxing, yet mysterious, fitting the tone. Even when the puzzles are difficult(or the game locks up), one would think it would be difficult for the player to get upset with such a tranquil game.
Unfortunately, the game still tries one’s patience. The movement controls feel floaty and unresponsive, as if they are just defaults from Unity or Unreal. The energy blasts which you use to interact have terrible audiovisual feedback and are one of the most limp feeling items this reviewer has ever used in a game. More cryptically, the game process is just an icon-less executable which, on further inspection, hides the running of a fully dressed up executable called “TheCube.exe”. Worse, there are occasional soft-lock bugs which cause your character to freeze in place on a gravity shift, accentuating the poorly spaced checkpoints as you’re forced to play the last 3 rooms again.
Anomaly 1729 clearly had real talent and effort put into it. There is a really solid piece for the puzzle genre here. Some of the ideas, like the paced decoding of the language, are downright brilliant. The problem is that the level of technical polish is dismally low, and while none of that is really deal-breaking, the amount of sharp edges is rather trying for a 15$ game
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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