The uneasy indie adventure is 10 years old.
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To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its first release, Analgesic Productions is giving away Anodyne, a surreal homage to the old school 2D Legend of Zelda games, for free. This weekend, you can claim a copy of Anodyne on itch.io (opens in new tab) for a grand total of zero dollars and zero cents.
Back in 2013, our reviewer Tom Sykes gave Anodyne a score of 84, saying that, “Anodyne can be as funny and charming as Link’s Awakening on occasion, but the overall tone is one of unease, with a subtle malevolence—the ‘something seems a bit off here’ factor—reminiscent of the indie horror Lone Survivor. Meaning is elusive, but themes and motifs soon begin to take form, in a game that feels increasingly personal the more you burrow into it.”
As well as the giveaway, Analgesic is running a couple of fan events for Anodyne’s 10th anniversary. As described in a birthday blog post (opens in new tab), the studio is collecting players’ written memories of their favorite places in Anodyne to publish “in some kind of writing in the future” as well as fan art of the game “which we might publish in digital or physical form in some way.”
You may remember Anodyne as the game whose developers ran a promotion, shortly after launch, in which they reduced its price to a single dollar while also uploading it to The Pirate Bay, hosting a torrent themselves so that people could download it for free. A note included with the torrent said, “We’d like to make a living by making games that will give people memorable experiences, but we know not everyone can afford them. So that’s why you can download a torrent of our game, Anodyne, and if you’d like and are able, also purchase the game!” It also exhorted players to vote for Anodyne on Steam Greenlight, which at the time was how indie games found their way onto Valve’s storefront.
The stunt proved effective, with its creators earning over $12,000 from the promotion, as well as getting an extra 13,000 views on Anodyne’s Greenlight page. Just over a month later Anodyne launched on Steam (opens in new tab), where it currently holds a user rating of Very Positive.
A sequel, Anodyne 2: Return to Dust, was released in 2019. It shifted the setting to a 3D world, though one where characters had 2D interior dungeons to explore. A multi-genre meta-commentary on games, it was as much Psychonauts as Legend of Zelda. Analgesic followed it with split-world platformer Even the Ocean and near-future explore-em-up Sephonie (opens in new tab).
Right now Analgesic is working on its fifth game, as yet untitled, which will be 3D and top-down, set in a “1950s Ireland-inspired setting.” It’s been in development since 2021, and you can keep up with progress at Analgesic’s devlog (opens in new tab).