What is it about?
Anachronox is what happens when the combat sensibilities of old-school J-RPGs like Final Fantasy meet the humour and wackiness of Pyschonauts in a inter-galactic adventure not too dissimilar to Mass Effect. You control the fate of three male characters, three female characters, an android and a planet to save the universe. Yes, you read right, a friggin’ planet joins your party. Along with a down on his luck detective and his formerly alive, now digitised secretary, a scientist accused of heresy (oh the irony), a washed out super hero, a museum curator, a snarky robot and an assassin who masquerades as a stripper. Needless to say, half of the fun is in the wildly different characters.
Why should I play it now?
Definitely not for the graphics which, thanks to a heavily modified Quake II engine look blocky and muddy. But move past that and you have more than a single reason to play this. There’s story replete with strong, well-realised characters, a battle system that breaks the usual monotony of attacking and healing that other games with turn based battle systems fall into and most of all, a sense of humour that rivals classics such as Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island.
How does it hold up today?
Pretty well despite its rudimentary looks. While the environments do tend to look blurry and out of date, the art and cinematic direction does more than enough to give you a sense of scale and immersion that rival modern day epics. Back in the day Anachronox was notorious for shipping with a boatload of bugs. The version on GOG plays smooth, well at least in my experience. But you may want to check out the GOG forums what with other gamers facing issues ranging from missing graphics to stuttering.
Is it similar to anything else out there?
As was the case with the superlative Beyond Good and Evil, Anachronox feels like a collection of ideas sewn together from different games what with the battles reminiscent of old RPGs, the sci-fi setting similar to the movie Fifth Element (and current gen fave, Mass Effect). But on it’s own, it feels much unlike anything you’ve ever played.
What do I need to play this?
Considering that most modern day machines have more than 512MB RAM and a processor higher than 1.8GHz, you’ll be just fine running it on almost anything. It would be nice to see this on consoles since the combat mechanics are more suited to that style of play.
‘When I played through…’
Installing this back in the day and even now, was thankfully a pain-free experience. And though it took awhile to look past the blurry textures it was fun as it was the first time around. The humour, dialogue and plot have aged much better than the tech around it, making it a ton of fun. Even the mini-games are a lot more entertaining than most free or $0.99 apps currently available. Anachronox is just one of those games that grows on you the more you play it,ensuring that doing anything else seems like an accursed chore including writing about it.
Stuttering and getting it to display properly on wide-screen monitors (without letter-boxing) seem to be two issues that plague most users. The former can be fixed with anything from tweaking the config file to launching it via the GCT tool found in the game’s installation files. Your mileage may vary. Running it in your monitor’s native resolution needs you to check out a free third-party tool called nGlide that should do the trick.
Where do I get it?
Even if you could find a physical copy of this PC only game, I’d recommend against it simply because it doesn’t play on modern day OSes. However GOG has it for a mere $5.99 minus the usual DRM trauma that takes centre stage when it comes to digital purchasing.