I love puzzle games. Sometimes when I want a nice calm time, I’ll boot up Portal 2 and relax in Aperture Science’s infinite puzzle pit. The problem with the genre as a whole is the lack of replayability; once I’ve solved a puzzle, I tend not to forget its solution so I’ll never get the same burst of joy at solving it again, and half of the custom levels on Steam don’t really get me scratching my head. This means I’m always on the lookout for another interesting puzzle game to be the calm part of my hard drive.
This is what brought Anomaly 1729 to my attention: it had a striking art style, with a more exploration focus to its puzzles and a cryptology aspect to its story. With its third person perspective, Anomaly is all about manipulating the space to get from point A to point B, from rotating rooms to creating moving platforms. To do this, you have a gun that fires out two projectile types, an orange and a blue. These do different things to each different type of obstacle, but for the most part blue projectiles made things move and orange ones make things stop.
They are also your only source of light at times, particularly in a sort of hub area I found myself in for a long time. At points, the game was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything, and while I get that Anvil Drop were going for atmospheric, I spent a lot of time walking around completely black areas trying to find the next part of the game. I had a look in the options menu to see if I could make it any brighter, but there really isn’t a lot in the options: resolution, three settings for the graphics options like shadows and texture quality, some audio sliders and a setting that supposedly turned the story off.
I don’t know what you’d gain by turning that off, aside from being maybe more lost. I found the exploration exceptionally difficult, mainly due to how everything looked exactly the same. In the poor lighting, the single texture used for the floors, ceilings and walls made exploration really boring and unintuitive: I have no idea if I’ve been down that corridor, because it looks like the one I just came from and the one I was in before that. The only way of knowing are these plinths that, when interacted with, provide some parts of the key to the encrypted messages that are scattered around on the walls and how the story is told.
This causes some problems: by the time I had enough of the key to work out what each message said, there was already a lot going on in the messages and I didn’t understand what any of it really meant. I looked for a way of reading old messages, but didn’t find anything, so I lost all interest in the story from then onwards.
Anomaly lost me not long afterwards entirely though: after spending a long time wandering around the hub looking for where to go, I finally found the next part of the game. I spent a little while working through the puzzle, and got to the exit, which lead to another (identical) corridor. One of the bigger mechanics of the game is the ability to rotate the rooms by firing at specific points in each room, and doors won’t open if the room is the wrong orientation. At the end of the corridor is a closed door, and there is no way of re-orientating the room without leaving the corridor first. This then closes the original door, so you can’t get back into the corridor. I redid the puzzle, reloaded the game all to no avail.
Anomaly 1729 (Reviewed on Windows)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
I was very interested going into Anomaly 1729, but I’m leaving it incomplete and disappointed. I’m sure that my door issue was just me missing something, but the game had annoyed me too much at that point to want to find the solution. Anomaly has some interesting concepts, but it fails to entice me to explore it deeper.