In 2019, Analgesic Productions launched Anodyne 2, a unique half-2D, half-3D adventure that might not have grabbed any headlines when it came out, but impressed nearly everyone who gave it a go. In the time since then, the game’s carved out a solid niche for itself on the PC platform, and soon, it’ll be opening the door for larger audiences to come in and enjoy it. Anodyne 2 is launching on consoles soon, and ahead of that launch, we recently got the chance to send across some of our questions about the game to the people behind it. You can read our interview with Analgesic Productions director Melos Han-Tani below.
"Initially we wanted to play with scale, and make a 3D game where you could be big and small. But we found it quicker to make the small parts into 2D dungeons inside bodies, as we have experience with that style of gameplay, and making assets in 2D for dungeons are faster."
Among the many unique and distinct things about Anodyne 2 is its blend of 2D and 3D gameplay. What was your inspiration for trying to meld these two very different styles into one package?
Initially we wanted to play with scale, and make a 3D game where you could be big and small. But we found it quicker to make the small parts into 2D dungeons inside bodies, as we have experience with that style of gameplay, and making assets in 2D for dungeons are faster.
Meanwhile, in 3D it’s much easier to make unique atmospheres with relatively few objects. So naturally, 3D ended up being good for the more “human-scale” exploration/travel focused parts of the game, and 2D worked well for the more combat stuff. And of course it all tied nicely to the story!
The premise of the game, involving distorted emotions and desires, is a relatively unique one. What was your inspiration for it? Did the Persona games, which feature similar themes, influence this game’s story at all?
There’s no particular one inspiration for the story or premise (mainly literature, film and current events [co-developer] Marina Kittaka and I were interested in at the time), and Persona was not an influence (although 4 and 5’s notion of diving into minds does have some similarities.) Mainly Marina designed the main story based on her life experience/thoughts she had, and I helped contribute with NPCs based on ideas around small communities, ancestors, personal networks.
What part of development did you personally enjoy the most? Designing the systems? Dungeons? Art? Something else?
I like seeing the game come together! Each part is pretty tough on its own… making music can be really fun though, and planning area visual/narrative concepts is fun too.
How has the experience of working on the next generation hardware of PS5 and Xbox Series X been?
Ratalaika Games took care of the port, so I don’t really know, but from what I can tell the new platforms were easy to port to as Anodyne 2 is low spec, uses Unity as its engine, and the new generation of consoles mostly just a hardware upgrade.
"From what I can tell the new platforms were easy to port to as Anodyne 2 is low spec, uses Unity as its engine, and the new generation of consoles mostly just a hardware upgrade."
The Nintendo Switch is not just far lower powered than the other systems the game is coming on, but also an entirely different architecture (using an ARM SoC) as well. Has it held back or uniquely factored into the development process at all?
Thankfully, no! It helps that Anodyne 2 is low-spec when it comes to the Switch being a weaker performance system. Unity makes porting fairly straightforward.
You have mentioned that you view Anodyne as an anthology series. Should we take this as confirmation you’re looking to make more Anodyne games in the future?
Yeah! I don’t know when, exactly, we would do it – but the idea of an Anodyne game is something we’re always excited to expand on and redefine.
Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the GPU speeds of the two consoles, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS- but how much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
Anodyne 2 is low-spec and runs at 60 FPS on weak laptops with nearly-instant load times, so the PS5/Series X differences won’t have any noticeable difference on Anodyne 2. However, that kind of power would be useful in the sense that developers have to worry less about clever technical tricks in order to get performance – the powerful GPU and CPUs can just handle anything we throw at it.
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s of raw bandwidth. This is faster than anything that is available out there. How can developers take advantage of this? How do you think this compares to the Xbox Series X’s 2.6 GB/s raw bandwidth?
Well, games could have higher fidelity models or levels with lots of things in them. But higher fidelity/lots of things isn’t that important for most games Analgesic makes, so I don’t think those hardware changes will enable us to do anything new. Assuming the developer codes things right, then a faster bandwidth would mean faster load times, assuming the game is even saturating those bandwidths to begin with.
There is a difference in Zen 2 CPUs of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The latter features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz, whereas the PS5 features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz. Your thoughts on this difference?
More or less the same as my answer for SSDs. Usually processor speed doesn’t matter since games rarely are doing that much work on the CPU (GPU/SSD matters more), but probably with that many CPUs you could like, maybe have like a million physics objects or something? Maybe you could real-time procedurally generate complicated things, since proc-gen tends to be CPU-heavy.
"I don’t know when, exactly, we would do it – but the idea of an Anodyne game is something we’re always excited to expand on and redefine."
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60fps console. Do you think it will be hold up for the graphically intensive next-gen games?
I would assume AAA devs would probably take advantage of Xbox Series X hardware, so there might be slight differences (maybe Xbox Series S would have slightly less fancy lighting?) Everyone makes games differently, but generally I would expect more Xbox Series S games to have 30 FPS, lower resolution, etc.
What resolution and frame rate is Anodyne 2 targeting to run at on PS5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S? Furthermore, will the game have multiple graphical modes?
4K on PS5/Xbox Series X, 1080p on Xbox Series S. The game will not have multiple graphical modes.