Saturday, October 19, 2013

Anachronox is on Steam!

Anachronox is one of my favorite games of all time, and I'm elated that it's now available on Steam. I still have my original install disks, secured in a hermetically-sealed safe in a secret offsite location, but now it's available to everyone for easy and convenient download.

I recommend this game almost without hesitation. The reason I hesitate is that it's a bit odd, and some folks might not care for it as a result. The graphics are surely dated and quaint by now (they were even a bit dated at the time it came out) and the combat system is not exactly a tightly tuned engine of tactical complexity. But the story, style, and humor kept me glued to the screen from beginning to end, and for that alone, I'm glad that more gamers will get a chance to experience this game.

At heart, Anachronox is a classic console-style RPG, a mixture of dungeon crawls, turn-based battles, character progression, and world exploration, with a strong focus on story. I love all of these elements, but for many console RPG's, the "story" is somewhat lacking. I don't need to play any more RPG's staring the brave-but-bland hero without a past, accompanied by his pure-hearted love interest and a cast of stereotypes including the gruff but loyal bruiser or the gorgeous woman with big breasts and few clothes.

The story of Anachronox is about a down-on-his-luck private eye who ...

Yeah, they had me at private eye.

Anachronox is primarily a mix of cyberpunk and space opera, in a world that never takes itself too seriously. One of your companions is a grumpy old wizard who can stun opponents with a powerful stream of gibberish; another companion is a miniaturized planet whose population has decided to send their homeworld off on adventure. At one point in the game you encounter a large organization of superheroes, whose detailed backstories include the issue number of the fictional comic book series they debuted in. (I wanted very badly to read these comics.) The game's humor can be found even in subtle details of the setting, like the vending machine you find in a lobby of the game's central space station, with a label on the side reading "Asnackronox".

One day, when I have some time on my hands, I hope to play through this fantastic game and enjoy it all over again. I still nurse an ambition of one day running a tabletop roleplaying game set in the Anachronox universe. But for now, I merely want to give the game a shout-out, and encourage anyone who loves a little humor and noir with their science fiction to plunk down seven bucks and let Sylvester "Sly" Boots show you around his world.

(Oh - and is a sequel too much to hope for? Maybe by way of a Kickstarter project? I'll be first in line to pledge.)