Anachronox

Moby ID: 4499
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Description official descriptions

Sly Boots is a private investigator who is in a bit of trouble - money trouble that is. So his first priority is to earn some money; when a mysterious rich man unexpectedly turns up with a tempting offer, Sly begins to think that his troubles are a thing of the past. Naturally, he couldn't have been more wrong, as he soon slides into something much, much bigger: he will discover a great mystery which may cause the destruction of the universe.

Anachronox is a sci-fi role-playing game that predominantly follows the Japanese template, though also incorporating elements from Western-style RPGs. Though its plot is serious in nature, the game features humorous dialogue and many bizarre situations.

The combat system has many similarities to the Final Fantasy series. It is turn-based in principle, but every character has an action bar. After every action it is depleted, and when it is filled again the next action can be started - no matter if the enemy has attacked or not. Important differences are the ability to move around on the battlefield in restricted ways and the non-random battles. Another similarity is the character development which automatically increases the character's stats.

However, the game is less combat-oriented than most Japanese-style RPGs. Most of the time is spent exploring the hub areas, solving (side) quests and conversing with people.

At first Sly is alone, save for his electronic secretary Fatima, but during the course of the game he recruits six party members to help him out, some of which are rather eccentric. Every party member has a special ability, played out in action-based mini-games, which are needed to solve quests, e.g. Sly can lockpick doors. There are also other mini-games to be found, partly needed to solve quests and partly optional. Sometimes there are traditional logic puzzles to solve.

Spellings

  • 아나크로녹스 - Korean spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

157 People (141 developers, 16 thanks) · View all

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 80% (based on 48 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 101 ratings with 13 reviews)

Anachronox rocks my socks.

The Good
This is a very funny, very interesting, and very fun console style RPG. It opens at a slow start on the planet Anachronox, but eventually rises in action very very much. The characters are loveable and funny all the way. A large part of the game plays like an old Lucasarts point-and-click adventure game, which is a VERY good thing. The battles are well done, with some rampantly awesome camera work (also seen in the well-worked-out in-game cutscenes), which is reminicent of such games as the recent Final Fantasy games and Chrono-Trigger.

The Bad
The first half's battles are very, very easy. There are some bugs, some very bad bugs, but nothing that can't be fixed by a small patch that is already released. The game looks a bit dated with the almost 4 year old Quake 2 engine. (But they did an incredibly good job with it, making it look very good.)

The Bottom Line
This is the real deal. A great console flavored RPG with lovely adventure elements and loads of clever humor for the PC. It is destined to be an under appreciated classic of our time. Give a good game a home, will ya?

Windows · by Yeah No (23) · 2001

If you celebrate Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams: here's a surprise for you...

The Good
This won't be a review about what kind of genre that game belongs to or why those people at Ion Storm decided to make a third person RPG with the Quake II engine or why the game was so hardly recognized by any serious and daring gamers out there...

I just want to celebrate the fact, that this game dares to be different from the way of storytelling, its humor, its game- and graphical design and so on.

There are two points I want to underline here. First: there are the graphics. Ok, let me say that I've played many games recently. The year is 2006 and I can only hardly remember the days when I was playing Quake II the first time with my old 3dfx-Accelerator. Back then it was a jawdropper experience to see a game in such a high resolution and a complete texture memory of 2 MB. A few weeks ago I played the first installment of the Unreal Tournament series again on my PC again and it was quite a shock for me to realize how fast and perfect graphics have evolved in the last few year (and how unbelievably bad those games from the past look nowadays). So then: I've installed Anachronox and I kept in mind that it was just built on a modified version of the Quake II engine. No extravaganza at all - just good old graphics from the old days. I also kept on telling to myself: no matter what you will see on the screen for the next few days - always remember how old that game is and that the main reason for playing is just one thing: the story. In the end it turned out that I was completely wrong. Believe it or not: the graphics in that game combined with very, very fine texture artwork make a really great and modern looking game. Of course you can't compare it to Doom 3 standards or any newer Unreal game but for a science fiction, comic-like game there are dozens of eye-opener-scenes in it. The camera angles, the cut-scenes, the low-polygon facial expressions. It's just great to see what Ion Storm made out of the old Quake II engine. It is and was really a surprise for me to see e.g. the intro to the game. I still can't remember any other game (even today) that had such a huge and creative opening and such creative in-game cut-scenes.

And the second point, the reason for me to write that review: Anachronox's humor and the way of Ion Storm's storytelling... I think you can imagine the game's humor best, when you put Monty Python, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Bruce Willis into one room and let them write a nice and entertaining story for a computer game.

Just two examples of that absolutely crazy game-design: Both unorthodox and over-sympathetic party members that are not like the usual computer generated, untouchable, zombie-like members found in many standard RPGs. They all have their very, very, very own personalities, life and intentions that are drawn in the game very, very detailed. As the game goes on you'll see how great the mixture is, how deep the relationship between the members grows, how crazy some party members come into the game's story and what kind of surprises they've got for your opponents (ever had an old man with a beard as long as to his toes in your party whose special ability is to yammer at people to finally get what he wants? or a robot that finally realizes that he has a mind of his own - don't imagine how the puberty of such a robot could look like :));

Finally I also want to underline the plot of the game - the by far most important part of Anachronox. Unfortunately the story needs some time to get moving but then...it's also unbelievably creative and unique and leaves you back in a completely fascinated mood: no standard alien-human story, no simple "good-guy-bad-guy" story - it's really not possible to predict how the story continues. Just to add it: of course there are many, many plot twists and surprises there that will make you wonder even more why nobody has made a film out of that game yet. Did I already mention that I like games that surprise me in all matters? This one did.

So, enough said about my enthusiasm about that game...now the cons...

The Bad
There are still heavy and nasty bugs in the game that will once again force you to save your game often and wisely.

I've already stated that the game is truly an epic and just great, but what made it a bit difficult for me was the fact, that the story hasn't got a constant tempo. The beginning is very, very slow and doesn't really capture your curiosity, then suddenly the pieces come together, the humor and main story unfolds, the party-members are becoming more and more sympathetic to you and then - BANG! - you're forced to again to just wander from point A to point B, bring item C to person D that waits for you at point E and the whole story comes to quite a stop.

It lets me think that at such points the designers obviously wanted to lengthen the game by all means without realizing that it sometimes can become very, very boring (even more when the rest of the game is THAT great and entertaining!). Unfortunately the quest logbook is also very uncomfortable because only the main quests are stored. Even if this lets you overlook your tasks more easily it is kinda even more frustrating, when you have to write the remaining side quests down all by yourself. It's always extra disappointing when a generally seen great game has such unneeded, unnecessary flaws.

The Bottom Line
Want something fresh, absolutely new and quite unknown? Something that makes you really laugh and something that is really an epic, that raises your attention, interest and curiosity for many hours?

Try it out - it will surely surprise you in a absolutely positive and humorous way...

Windows · by silent_driver (12) · 2006

A plot better than most Sci-Fi movies

The Good
Anachronox not only contained some of the best levels of any 3D RPG ever (in very stark contrast to the other big-name Ion game Daikatana and in very start contrast to the Final Fantasy games) but also by far the best plot. Where RPG games are usually focused on character skill development as in the D&D games like Icewind Dale or on console-style real-time battles - ala Final Fantasy - Anachronox managed to do what few others have: to feature a robust, well-written story along with well-developed and rounded characters all immersed in a detailed world while still maintaining logical and fun gameplay. Tom Hall's humor and influence is evident throughout as situations, characters, and dialogs are continually entertaining in a game which, overall, is generally quite fun without being overly violent.

Many people criticize the graphics from the dated Quake 2 engine, but I fail to see what the problem in that respect as the graphics don't make an RPG great (that is, unless the game is FF>6 and the graphics provide the only substance) as is well illustrated by earlier games in the genre such as the Ultima games.

The Bad
To put it bluntly: Daikatana. Had it not been for "that other Ion game" Anachronox would have sold immensely better as a result of better promotion and extra development time. But, as a result of massive pressure from Eidos, Anachronox was shipped with an excessive number of bugs (though none made the game unplayable or even undefeatable).

The Bottom Line
One of the best RPGs of all time with an excellent and funny story that will result in hours of fun gameplay.

Windows · by Plix (197) · 2002

[ View all 13 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Bipidri collectables reward Klaster_1 (57610) Jun 3, 2011

Trivia

Arcade

When you land on Hephaestus, try the arcade. You'll find Bugaboo, a Galaga clone. The artwork is even in the same green style of the original coin eaters.

You'll also find Pooper, a quasi Pac-Man clone. Both games were developed with the APE, built in to the game engine.

Credits

In the ending-credits, which are longer than the regular ones, there are some hilarious texts and greetings from the developers.

Development

In the development process of Anachronox, nearly half of the game had to be cut off to reduce production time. The half that was cut off was going to be put together as a sequel, but with Ion Storm shut down, and lukewarm sales, it never happened.

Development Tools

Ion Storm did a couple neat tricks for Anachronox. * APE stands for Anachronox Programing Environment. Its a programing language that was used to create all the interaction and gameplay. It was also used to create the minigames that you could play. * Magpie: Magpie was a program designed to process MP3s and create .lip files that the game engine could use to lip-sync dialogue. The lip files were simple text files that would load with the MP3s during cut scenes.

Engine

Ion Storm heavily modified the Quake II engine for this game. They added several features, including a refined particle effect, a mini game scripting language, and facial animation modification that allows lip syncing to dialogue.

The developers used the facial animation to good effect, letting the characters express their emotions with facial expressions.

Influence

Anachronox was influenced by the popular Japanese RPG Chrono Trigger, one of Tom Hall's favorite games. The game's title also alludes to that.

Machinima

Jake Hughes, the cutscene director of the fabulous Anachronox cutscenes, published a very special goody on Machinima.com.

It's a 1 Gigabyte collection of all cutscenes, edited to a 2 1/2 hour Anachronox movie.

References: Dopefish

id software's famed Dopefish makes a cameo in Anachronox. You can find him in ones of the water tanks in the lair of the Orange Roughies, located on Rictus's ship. Just follow the burping noise. The Dopefish can also be seen in a tank in Rho's lab and (allegedly) at the Moon Burger restaurant on Hephaestus.

References: Games

  • In the Red Lights District of the Sender Station, you can order a special treatment called "Deus Sex"... The object of this pun is, of course, Deus Ex, also developed by Ion Storm.

  • Many references to Tom Hall's past games can be found throughout the game. One of the more obvious ones is in the Tenement Area; if you look at the other names for the directory, you can see "B. Blaze" in a room, a clear reference to Commander Keen games.

References

  • Located in Sender Station is Jawnn, Pawl, Jorj and Ree'ngo, who form the teen rock sensation, The Meatles! Talk to them and they'll recite lyrics from popular Beatles songs.

  • One of the customers in the bar at the beginning of the game is Dim Jose. Swap the front letters and you'll get Jim Dose. Jim Dose used to work on the sound engine on previous Apogee games along with Tom Hall.

  • Two guys you can talk to on Democrates are discussing an opera written by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928).

Secrets

If you wait and press nothing at the start screen the Anachronox symbol will eventually fall down and two repair bots will appear to put it back in it's place. Wait a little more and PAL-18 will also appear and start looking at you through the monitor. This rotating logo can also be viewed as another Deus Ex reference/parody.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • April 2002 (Issue #213) – Best Use of Humor of the Year

Information also contributed by hydra9, Karthik KANE, kbmb, Scott Monster, tarion, Unicorn Lynx, xofdre and Zovni

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Unicorn Lynx.

Additional contributors: xroox, Yeah No, Jeanne, Chentzilla, AdminBB, Patrick Bregger, Zhuzha.

Game added July 27, 2001. Last modified May 9, 2024.