Anodyne > IMPORTANT STUFF > Topic Details
cyricsservant Jul 21, 2013 @ 12:13pm
Your interpretation of the game's plot/ending? *SPOILERS!!!*
While some reviewers (e.g. Destructoid) tore Anodyne apart for "having no meaning" and for being pretentious, I thought it told a very compelling (if somewhat obtuse) story.

I interpreted the game as being the main character's struggle with clinical depression. Most of the bosses seem intrinsically linked to Young (being the manifestations of his imagination), and they all touch upon disturbing themes such as self-loathing, apathy, and the desire to commit suicide.

Young also has a bit of a repressed violent streak to him. At one point in the game you murder an innocent fisherman and jump into a vortex of the man's blood, which transports you to a different realm. At another point when you visit a sleepy suburb community your weapon (a broom) transforms into a knife, and instead of being able to talk to the harmless-but-vapid suburbanites you can only stab them to death. Despite the title, there's some dark stuff here.

At the end, the final boss is a doppelganger of Young that gets overtaken by "the darkness." The doppelganger laments that he's tired of "the cycle" continuing and that "this is all there is." When you beat him, we're not treated to some really grandiose finale with a bunch of bells and whistles. We've merely warded off a dark mood (i.e. depression) for a time, and it'll come again as depression is cyclical.

Personally, I liked that the ending was so anti-climatic, because you didn't succeed in curing Young. Just pulling him out of his funk. I also enjoyed how dying would merely wake you up, and you find yourself alone in a dark room/apartment. Those were nice touches.

Anyone else have the same interpretation, or a different one you feel like sharing?
Showing 1-15 of 19 comments
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SilverDragon90 Jul 21, 2013 @ 11:30pm 
I definitely got a self-hate vibe from this game from a few points. Like with the mayor of Young Town for example.

Arale//Zero Jul 22, 2013 @ 1:37pm 
Honestly I find it silly that someone would call any work "pretentious". Just take the thing as it is. What, does Anodyne need to be top seller on all charts or something to be able to tell a strange story without being pretentious? That's silly. People should just take the story as it is.
skiesbleed Jul 23, 2013 @ 2:46pm 
I'm inclined to side with your interpretation. There were some excellent ideas explored in that regard, and the feeling of things always being a little off made for a great atmosphere.
Puddles Jul 25, 2013 @ 12:55pm 
I found the whole thing unclear, but in a really great way. I didn't even know that it was set in Young's mind until I read it on one of the Trading Cards.
Dark_Oppressor Jul 30, 2013 @ 2:54pm 
Ya, I didn't really notice the game was even set in his mind until later, haha. I was just enjoying the Zelda-esque gameplay.
fafner2000 Aug 22, 2013 @ 12:55pm 
All the time I spent playing the game felt as if the game was shifting between dream and reality, happily mixing them at many points. The motel is what made me realize that: entering through the roof while there seems to be no entrance at "street level" is so... upside-down :-P And the progressive transformation into a completely sunken area is so dream-like, as well as being somewhat apocalyptic.

The ending of the game also remembered me a recurrent dream I had at some time (which might look like the cave with many growling people), which abruptely ended with a somewhat anticlimactic conclusion. As I understood, the dream dealt with personal issues I had, that I had "fixed" with time; the logical conclusion was nothing more that an anticlimactic normality :-P

In the end, Anodyne did appeal to me, but I can understand that many people wouldn't really understand it. Somehow it feels like it is essentially a game for depressive people :-D
0gb.us Aug 22, 2013 @ 5:25pm 
You mentioned that dying wakes you up, but does it really? I think it's more of a false awakening (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_awakening). If you notice, you still have the broom you obtained in the dream world, as well as whatever broom upgrade you had equipped. Furthermore, there is a chest in that room that stays empty after opening it from the dream world, meaning that either Young's dream self is breaking out of the dream and into the real world (unlikely), or that room is just another part of the dream. If you "die" after the game's end with the swap upgrade equipped, you can escape this allegedly "waking world" room, back into the rest of the dream. I actually did that once, though the inability to access the menu after doing so (due to being in the "dead" state) made the game hard to play until saving and restarting.

Young is told in the broken email that he needs to wake up. However, I don't think he can wake up without that fiftieth card. I think he's in a coma, and the fifty-gate is his portal back to the waking world. A portal he is unable to access, at least for the time being. Is he fighting off his inner demons and moods as you said? Quite possibly. But I don't think he's just taking a nap.

EDIT: Then again, this is a work of art, and we aren't given a clear story. It is likely up to multiple interpretations.
Last edited by 0gb.us; Aug 22, 2013 @ 5:34pm
flmldm Aug 23, 2013 @ 9:48pm 
I like how the game ends with an optimistic tone with Briar's last words. For me, this game has kind of anti-gaming messages and was anti-gaming. And it sort of brings you back to reality, under the form of a therapy that revisits youth, sees negative aspect of being alone fantasizing of better games (and better days, of gaming and other escape from life through fantasy). Briar was not the nemesis in the game i think, it's just a character that ends the game with a "life goes on" message. The finale wasn't really the whole point of the game. I rhink the game was really trying to wake up young in the least painful way, with subtle messages, but you can't change someone that easily, so it isn't totally forcing itself upon the player, or young (that is really any gamer with social and life issues). So it has a way of suggesting certains negative aspects of young's world, ways which I really like, since the messages speak to gamers.
Last edited by flmldm; Aug 23, 2013 @ 9:54pm
Ryu Aug 24, 2013 @ 9:47pm 
Originally posted by Dark_Oppressor:
Ya, I didn't really notice the game was even set in his mind until later, haha. I was just enjoying the Zelda-esque gameplay.

yeah...same here
Mister Magician Aug 31, 2013 @ 10:57am 
Originally posted by cyricsservant:
While some reviewers (e.g. Destructoid) tore Anodyne apart for "having no meaning" and for being pretentious, I thought it told a very compelling (if somewhat obtuse) story.

I interpreted the game as being the main character's struggle with clinical depression. Most of the bosses seem intrinsically linked to Young (being the manifestations of his imagination), and they all touch upon disturbing themes such as self-loathing, apathy, and the desire to commit suicide.

Young also has a bit of a repressed violent streak to him. At one point in the game you murder an innocent fisherman and jump into a vortex of the man's blood, which transports you to a different realm. At another point when you visit a sleepy suburb community your weapon (a broom) transforms into a knife, and instead of being able to talk to the harmless-but-vapid suburbanites you can only stab them to death. Despite the title, there's some dark stuff here.

At the end, the final boss is a doppelganger of Young that gets overtaken by "the darkness." The doppelganger laments that he's tired of "the cycle" continuing and that "this is all there is." When you beat him, we're not treated to some really grandiose finale with a bunch of bells and whistles. We've merely warded off a dark mood (i.e. depression) for a time, and it'll come again as depression is cyclical.

Personally, I liked that the ending was so anti-climatic, because you didn't succeed in curing Young. Just pulling him out of his funk. I also enjoyed how dying would merely wake you up, and you find yourself alone in a dark room/apartment. Those were nice touches.

Anyone else have the same interpretation, or a different one you feel like sharing?
So this is just a game about a depressed young man and his "epic journey" to find his way?

Ugh. I feel dirty for even looking at this game.
seagaia  [developer] Sep 3, 2013 @ 1:10am 
no, it's not about a depressed guy....etc....epic journey - at least that is not what i had in mind.

i've always seen anodyne as an exploration of thought processes / spaces of thought related to friendship and what we do for ourselves to maintain them and what we do for the friends to maintain them.

i don't think it was conveyed super well though, but i'm totally fine with that by this point in time.
Daniel Kay Sep 4, 2013 @ 3:51am 
I actually thought the entire game was a lucid dream, the opening saying "you're about to wake up" I interpreted as Young being on the verge of waking up but somehow still stuck in a dream and your mission being to wake him.
On the way to wake up you explore the stranger parts of your mind and fantasies, and also the less plesant parts (Young Town for example).

To me that was a nice change from "it was a dream all along" actually as it starts out with "this is a dream, you have to awake" instead of using that as a "surprise" reveal.

The relativley mundane ending to me was Young simply returning to normality in the end.

A little more food for that thought, real Anodyne is a hallucinogenic drug.
So it could be interpreted as him having fallen into a drug fueld sleep and waking up is actually important. Young could die in his sleep as the drugs prevent him from waking up till he "sorts" his mind.
Last edited by Daniel Kay; Sep 4, 2013 @ 4:24am
Vidyooooooooooooo Sep 15, 2013 @ 9:25am 
I remember reading a description that said something about the game taking place in the sub-conscious, so as the guy above says it may well be a dream-like state that the main character is in and it seems to me that many of his unconscious worries/insecuries provide the basis for the game's (strange) world. Whereas against other games always feel the need to give a reason to the player (i.e. to save the princess, to beat the villain) Anodyne seems more concerned with the idea that the protagonist is simply trying to prove something to himself but he doesn't know what or why, just that he feels the need to in order to provide cohesion where there is currently chaos.

I don't know what the developer was trying to get across exactly but there's definitely some psychoanalytic work at play. There's also a lot self-depracating thoughts such as suggestions that through pain comes joy (taken from the dialogue about how you are born through the suffering of somebody else). Perhaps that's basis of the main character's actions here; he's hoping to get some joy out of it despite the difficult situations he is forced into. I wouldn't call him depressed as others have, but instead confused with good intentions. He wants to do the thing he considers right, to help rid the world of evil.

That's my reading. I'm not sure what Destructoid said as I don't read that website.

Last edited by Vidyooooooooooooo; Sep 16, 2013 @ 4:15pm
fat_and_sassy Sep 16, 2013 @ 7:21pm 
The biggest strength in the narrative is its subtlety. The games that clearly inspired this game were sort of limited to the hardware they were on. You were just kinda thrown into a game with little-to-no exposition. The story was created through the world itself. It invoked the imagination to fill in the blanks.

The brilliance of this game's narrative is that the limitations of the story are set by the developer. Calling it "pretentious" doesn't seem right. Anodyne doesn't try to be anything other than a relaxing and moody adventure game with peculiar events and dialogue to keep you curious about the game's world and origin.
Shy Nov 4, 2013 @ 4:59pm 
Originally posted by seagaia:
no, it's not about a depressed guy....etc....epic journey - at least that is not what i had in mind.
...

Really? I too came to the conclusion that he was a depressed kid who wouldn't come off video games because his real life was absolutely morbid, so he'd put together this game in his mind to escape it all but reality kept creeping in. A lot of the dialogue really seems to point you in that direction, infact I was really expecting the ending to put it all together because it seemed so obvious, but I guess not! I'm really surprised.

Great game however, the dialogue itself was my favourite part about it, like cryptic but relatable in many instances.
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