Anuchard is a game which instantly drew me in thanks to its dungeon crawler vibe. In a similar way to The Legend of Zelda it tapped into my curiosity to explore. I went in not really knowing what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with what I found.
The action and adventure role-playing game is set in the titular kingdom of Anuchard, which has been through something of a rough time. It literally fell from the sky, and famine, war and uncertainty raged across the lands all because the five ancient guardians disappeared without a trace.
The people’s only hope of returning to a time of prosperity lies with the Bellwielder, who it is foretold will enter the dangerous dungeon and awaken the guardians from their slumber and restore Anuchard’s former glory. So far so good on the role playing front.
As I am sure you have figured out, Anuchard sees you (the player) take up the Bellwielder’s mission to save the land. The Audros Bell has many uses, from fighting off monsters to solving puzzles. It also has a three way split personality which makes for some interesting dialogue.
On that note, Anuchard is text heavy with a lot of reading to be done. There is a story to be told, albeit a fairly straightforward one, however lots of time is given to flesh out characters which results in plenty of non “narrative crucial” dialogue. Essentially, these segments are a means to an end because you need an item connected to the person you are trying to save before you can proceed to the dungeon. This isn’t a huge problem in itself, however the most enjoyable part of the game takes place in the dungeon, so these conversation heavy passages of play can really disrupt the pacing. Truth be told, I would have preferred less chat and more exploring for a better balance. The ending makes for a fascinating final act however.
We will come back to the dungeon shortly. The overworld is where you live, within a small Orchard. It’s here where you can interact with the townspeople and accept side quests, alongside cooking up meals and purchasing all sorts of upgrades. You will also need to visit the Chief’s house to save your progress, as there is no autosave feature in Anuchard. In fairness you are warned about this and the world is pretty small, so it isn’t too much hassle to trek back to save. You will also unlock a portal to fast travel as you progress, so the biggest challenge is remembering to save your data.
The side quests are extremely simple distractions from the main story, and can be viewed from the town noticeboard. The telltale sign of an ellipsis above someone’s head will alert you to a side quest which has become available. These are only open at certain points in the story, and will expire if you choose to move along with the main campaign. The board also tracks your main missions, as well as missing residents who can also be rescued from the dungeon alongside your primary targets.
Upgrades will become available as you rescue characters and return life to their stone forms which reside in the overworld. Resources can be found in the dungeons which are used as currency, and can unlock a range of cosmetic, combative and stat boosting buffs.
Some of these include unlocking new ingredients which can be thrown together to cook different meals. Each combination will give you a different advantage with which to go into the dungeon with (ie a chunkier health bar, a different attack etc etc). There are a few to play around with as you try out various combinations of ingredients.
As I say, Anuchard is best enjoyed when you are navigating the ever shifting dungeon, battling monsters and saving souls. These labyrinths grow steadily more complicated and are split into three themes. In the final dungeon of each, you will face off against a guardian in a boss fight style scenario, which will encourage them to return to Anuchard to aid in your cause. These are pretty good fun but perfectly manageable encounters, especially once you have hit a few upgrades.
You’ll need to keep your eyes open for dungeon treasures, as well as face off against monsters which ambush you in closed rooms. There are a few different ones, each with their own attack patterns which you will quickly come to learn. As you progress, the same ones will be coloured differently indicating a stronger variant. You will also encounter armored monsters which need to be smashed into a wall to break their shield in order for you to damage them. This means a little strategy is required depending on the group of monsters you are facing.
Your Audros Bell can be used as a melee weapon, but it can also lay down healing totems and fire projectiles depending on which pre mission meal you have consumed. Swinging your Audros Bell to clear away vegetation will yield rewards also.
The dungeon will throw puzzles your way too, which will require you to bust out your forward roll move to smash crystals to open doors, light lanterns and even bat back projectiles at your enemies. The first boss battle asks this of you, and getting the timing right can be a little frustrating due to the controls being a little slow to react. Overall they work well, but this little niggle takes some getting used to.
The gameplay is fairly simple but gradually grows a little more complex. Again, it’s not too challenging however and does err on the repetitive side in parts. However, there are just enough elements thrown in to hold your interest throughout the adventure, whether it’s gameplay or narrative related.
Anuchard does the job visually and despite some annoying chirping that certain characters do, sounds pretty good too. The catchy 8-bit dungeon theme helped bring to life the nostalgic sense of exploration from my younger gaming days, which is a win in my book.
All in all, Anuchard is a solid adventure which should keep most invested until the end. Despite some balance issues, there’s no getting away from the fact that all the components are here for an engaging and enjoyable experience.
Anuchard can be downloaded from the Xbox Store
- Dungeons are genuinely intriguing
- Simple but enjoyable combat
- Fairly lengthy campaign
- Engaging story
- Too much dialogue at times
- Side quests are basic
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Freedom Games
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Switch
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 21 Apr 2022
- Launch price from - £12.49