Anomaly Agent Review: A Sci-Fi Adventure with Engaging Platforming Action
With so many games releasing in the first quarter of 2024, I believe there is room for bite-sized adventures that offer the chance to actually finish a game in a reasonable amount of time. As I get older, I find myself more and more addicted to indie games, if only to experience unique gameplay systems that I don’t see from larger developers. Further, I enjoy the fact that I can actually finish these games without having to dedicate multiple weeks just to finish a few chapters. Anomaly Agent from developer Phew Phew Games delivers a fast-paced and well-rounded sci-fi narrative paired with platforming action that never grows dull across its 6-hour runtime.
Delving into Anomaly Agent’s Rich Narrative: A Blend of Sci-Fi and Dark Humor
Anomaly Agent puts players in the role of Agent 70, who’s tasked with putting a stop to strange anomalies that threaten the world. For instance, as anomalies are dealt with, there are lingering effects, such as when your captain grows or shrinks as the balance of the universe shifts. Agent 70 travels through portals to areas that have been infiltrated by enemy clones and powerful anomalies, which require his smooth skills and quick whits.
The narrative is far better than I initially expected, as it delivers some quality sci-fi interactions with a dash of dark humor.
The narrative is far better than I initially expected, as it delivers some quality sci-fi interactions with a dash of dark humor. Through dialog, players can also make choices that affect some aspects of the experience. For instance, saying nice things gives you positive points, which could lead to health increases, but saying the wrong thing will give you negative points, which can lead to more coins to buy upgrades. It’s not tough to know which answer does what, so it’s good to just answer to play into whatever strategy you’re going for. There are a few twists found throughout the campaign as you meet new characters who know more than they let on, but I will say a second playthrough will help with really understanding the themes, given the sci-fi elements are tough to keep up with in the early stages.
The gameplay is broken up into levels that incorporate platforming and combat, creating a harmonious connection between the two.
An Intricate Dance of Platforming and Combat in Anomaly Agent
The gameplay is broken up into levels that incorporate platforming and combat. The platforming sections are fairly straightforward and never too difficult. In fact, the entire game on the default difficulty is very approachable, but many of these platforming sections are skill-based. Throughout the game, Agent 70 will gain new abilities that lend to combat but also open up new means of traversal. Specific features like utilizing portals to get across gaps, paired with a double jump or slide to get past electricity, are pretty common, but they become a bit more involved in the later chapters. The design of the game expertly introduces you to these environmental hazards so you can then know how to use them against enemies. It creates a harmonious connection between the platforming areas and the combat sections.
Anomaly Agent is a true indie gem that is perfect for a weekend, showcasing excellent pacing as they balance combat, platforming, and narrative with absolute grace.
Combat requires a bit more skill because the systems aren’t overtly technical. I would say the speed of combat is swift but not flashy. You’re expected to time dodges and parries during every encounter unless you want to take damage. However, as you acquire more abilities, you can combo into other attacks that can stun enemies, but these have short cooldowns tied to them. I was impressed by the depth of these abilities and how the developers timed their introductions. Each new ability becomes a proper extension of your attacks, and by the end of the adventure, I felt like I was untouchable. Sure, encounters can be pretty difficult, but the developers were nice enough to refill your health at each screen and set up a checkpoint so any player can likely see the credits if they want to.
Boss battles have multiple phases and require an understanding of enemy telegraphs. I’ll admit I died a few times to every boss, but I don’t think they are explicitly challenging. Sadly, I attribute my deaths to just being bored of some of the boss encounters. Many of the opening bosses seem to play the same as you simply have to dodge away from their attacks, and it just becomes a little dull because you’re doing the same actions for the entirety of the fight. As awesome as the boss designs are, I felt like the combat system doesn’t lead itself well to these one-on-one encounters, which is why other enemies are sometimes summoned during the fights to keep you in your toes. Regardless, the end bosses are exceptionally well-designed, so it does get better.
That said, the enemy designs are pretty awesome. The game starts with simple robot clones before introducing more powerful clones. However, as the enemies group up, they can combine to create an even stronger clone. This means during fights, you have to pay attention to crowd control, or else the fights become much more challenging. Thankfully, there are weapons in the game aside from a melee bat; you’ll pick up guns that you can then upgrade with poison bullets and more ammo. Having a gun doesn’t make you any more powerful, but it’s a great way to interrupt enemy attacks or cause a bit of chip damage as you close the gap.
I ended up finding the environments and general traversal to be one of the highlights of the entire experience. This, paired with a dark humor narrative and some unique combat mechanics, allows this little indie gem to stand out. It’s one of those games that you want to reply to just to show off the combat skills you’ve gained, and thankfully, there is a New Game+ that offers you a chance to really see the depth of these mechanics. If I had one nitpick, it was that the upgrade system was a bit too straightforward, and I felt like it didn’t really encourage diversity between runs since you’ll likely unlock everything in order, even though you can technically skip some upgrades if you want.
Anomaly Agent: A Compact Indie Marvel with a Perfect Balance of Gameplay Elements
Anomaly Agent is a true indie gem that is perfect for a weekend. It has a unique combat system that takes some getting used to, but you’ll want to stick with it because it’s just so damn fun to master. The developers showcase some excellent pacing as they balance combat, platforming, and narrative with absolute grace. While the boss battles could have used a bit more flare, and the upgrade tree could have encouraged more diverse loadouts, these points are easy to overlook when you’re having such a good time.
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