Before I started playing Anodyne, I did not know that its title is a real word. An older term referring to painkiller drugs, it has since acquired a wider meaning, describing anything that is blandly agreeable or even trying too hard to be inoffensive. It’s a fitting title for the game, which explores themes of human relationships and the pressures one might feel to maintain appearances or meet expectations. It’s also a slightly ironic title, because I think Anodyne will prove divisive among players, with many feeling very offended indeed at its “pretentious” presentation and use of symbolism.
Anodyne is very clearly inspired by the Zelda series, especially the early entries. It follows protagonist Young on his journeys through The Land, on a quest to save The Briar from The Darkness. This is accomplished by traversing many top-down screens and battling monsters with his broom. Yes, a broom — only one of many early hints that all is not as it seems.