In Anomaly Agent, you play as the red-haired, decidedly sassy Agent 70. As a member of Tday, an organization committed to maintaining the natural order, Agent 70 aims to halt so-called Anomalies that disturb the world’s balance and create substantial chaos. When a last-minute assignment delays his promotion, Agent 70 must track down an organized group of anomalies in what may be his most complicated and dangerous job yet.
The word anomaly, which means something that deviates from the standard or what is expected, has seen a bit of a warp in the lexicon in recent years due to the word’s popular usage in science fiction and horror, particularly in media such as the SCP Foundation, The Backrooms, and The Mandela Catalog. In the case of these franchises and Anomaly Agent, what these so-called anomalies deviate from is reality. Anything bearing the title “anomaly” is something strange or supernatural that defies the natural order of things as the Tday organization sees them.
Strange and supernatural Anomaly Agent certainly is. In Agent 70’s normal 9 to 5, you’ll be going against such anomalous entities as gravity-defying egg machines, time-traveling villains, an army of angry clones, and giant hands set to squash you. Anomaly Agent makes great use of its reality-defining concept, throwing unusual and interesting enemies your way and twisting levels and mechanics in unexcepted ways, sometimes outright flipping a level over as you navigate it.
That said, I wish the game had gone a little further with its themes of reality-warping supervillains. Most levels conform to the game’s dominant Cyberpunk 80s-futurism theme. The game could have mixed things up by having us chase a villain into a haunted house or some back-in-time hamlet, making each level drastically different from one another.
That isn’t to say the levels in Anomaly Agent are uninteresting. Each one is thematically different, even if it still falls into the theme of sci-fi cityscape. You’ll fight your way across rooftops, chase enemies across a moving train, and brawl in a dance bar, with no two areas in the game feeling the same.
Anomaly Agent’s gameplay is fun and pretty standard for the Metroidvania genre. You battle your way across a sidescrolling plane, using basic attack combos and a variety of weapons and gadgets collected as you go on. New gadgets often come with mechanics that interact with both the combat and platforming segments of the game and give you some time to master the new mechanics by setting up puzzles based on your new tool in the immediate areas after unlocking it.
To me, the boss fights were the most thrilling aspect of Anomaly Agent. Each one was entirely unique and featured their own mechanics that, while not incredibly difficult to learn, required you to pay attention. Each one was fun and managed to be decently challenging without feeling like a Dark Souls-esque grind.
The game rewards stylish use of combos with an increase in coins dropped by defeated foes, which in turn can be used on upgrades. Interestingly, your dialogue options also drop a special mood-based currency that can be used in the shop. I found that being nice had much better rewards, giving max health boosts in the shop.
I found that most of the other upgrades were uninteresting stat improvements or weren’t very helpful. Most upgrades simply increase ammo size, give you a chance to crit, or have a poison mechanic the game seems to really want to push on you that I just didn’t find super exciting or interesting to use.
The basic combat is super fluid, involving a mixup of your normal attacks, dodges, firearms picked up from clone foes, and your agency tools, which include a shape-shifting bat and a used bag. Navigating the many enemies in Anomaly Agent requires you to dodge, parry, and stun in quick and calculated succession. One of the more interesting mechanics is that clones, which make up your basic enemy horde, will fuse together if allowed to, becoming far more dangerous versions of themselves with better tactics and more harmful attacks.
My favorite aspect of Anomaly Agent has to be the game’s cast of characters. Anomaly Agent manages to bring a superb cast of flavorful characters to life without the use of a lot of dialogue, letting their designs do a lot of work and portraying personality through short, one to two-sentence bursts of interaction. Some personal favorites include your math genius gadgety partner Eva and the grouchy Chief, who is experiencing some height-related issues due to Agent 70’s improper handling of a size anomaly.
Similarly, Anomaly Agent tells a very interesting, whacky, and supernatural story without using a lot of exposition or long, drawn-out cutscenes. There are even moments where Agent 70 is given the chance to influence events as they unfold, giving players a chance at multiple endings and warranting more than one playthrough.
Finally, major props have to be given to the developers for the game’s visual and audio design. If you’ve read my reviews, you’ll be familiar by now with how much I appreciate the craft of pixel art. Anomaly Agent makes use of minimalistic pixel designs that convey characters beautifully alongside hand-drawn portraits that bring the characters to life. Each level’s music is amazing as well, fitting the 80’s cyberpunk vibe immaculately and never managing to get old, even when I found myself stuck replaying the same spot over and over again.
The Final Word
Anomaly Agent is a wonderfully weird adventure, full of strange and interesting characters and fluid mechanics that are satisfying to execute. Players should have a blast exploring the weird, humorous future world and fighting to keep things normal in this modern spin on a classic genre.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Anomaly Agent is available on Steam.
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