Anamorphine VR Review (Oculus Rift)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
From the day of seeing the trailer for Anamorphine, which at the time was the PlayStation trailer I have been looking forward to what the game would offer. The reason for this mainly was because of the artistic look it had to the game, and I love it when games try something new and take a new approach in visual style. But, how does Anamorphine hold out?
You are going to play the story from the eyes of Tyler, while the games tells the story of Tyler and Elena. In this game you are going to live the nice and more troubling parts of their relationship. The game starts out with the highs, but this soon turns and addresses what living with depression can do and questions how both parts of this loving couple deal with this situation and the mental illness that goes with it. This spiral starts as the Elena falls of her bike and breaks her wrist, that brings and end to her career as part of an orchestra.
When it comes to the gameplay there really isn’t much to the game than exploring the environments it offers. This will be done either by foot or on a bike, as you just find memories to move onto the next part of the couples trials and tribulations. There is no puzzles or anything to solve, it practically is a walking and bike riding simulator and believe me it is all this game needed – because this all about telling this story.
As well as the story it is telling, the visual style and audio is just as important in portraying what Anamorphine is doing. When it comes to the audio this is done so well, it is another game that does not use a spoken word to tell it’s story. In stead it is all told through the music’s tone, using an orchestral soundtrack. This works fantastically as you feel every emotion that both Tyler and Elena are going through, and all using the power of music. With the added extra being this style of music is the main element of the depression – giving more of a connection to the characters.
To go along with the audio is a great use of visuals in order set the mood and mindset to go with the soundtrack. Before the accident and the depression setting in, you are seeing everything in bright clean environments, and Elena has a glow to her, shown with her hair having a glow to it, and you visit places that all nice and bright settings.
Then as the spiral into depression starts her hair starts to lose that glow, and the apartment becomes darker, dirty and in a state of disrepair – showing the lack of motivation that comes with depression in the real world. Then as you start to visit other places that you have visited before the accident, these are now distorted and very dystopian, giving you the idea of the effects it is having on Tyler and his mind.
The game is all played out in ways to make you feel every emotion that goes with depression, with for me the main one being feeling trapped. This is done as most of the game plays out in the apartment, and you very seldom leave it. This is done in such a clever way, as you walk through a door in the apartment, it might lead you back to a complete different room or in the same part of the apartment in a different setting or time of day. A few people might see constantly revisiting the same places as an issue, but for me it is showing the spiral into depression and the effects of this illness very well.
The only issue I found with the game was some performance issues that broke the immersion a little, this was down to stutters and sometimes pauses as it loaded parts of the game. I checked these sections outside of VR mode and they it did in the same as well. These weren’t very often, but as mentioned they take some of the immersion out of the experience.
The game is to be played seated, as you really don’t get any benefits from standing, and given it is also playable in non-VR it was made to be played this way. When it comes to the controls it supports both a game pad and the Touch controllers, but I found I just used a game pad, as there is no extra immersion from using the Touch controllers. All you are going to need on the controller is the two analogues, one to move and the other look, they have really made the controls that simple. Which in turn allows you to take in the story the music and visuals are telling.
I found that I played through the whole game in one sitting, which lasted around one and half hours. Where some might take this as short, but with what Anamorphine is doing and the story it is telling prolonging it would have ruined the experience – I really feel this was the correct length. I think many may struggle to go back to it after the one play-through as well, meaning you will only get the one and half hours out of the game.
Raising Awareness of Depression
After games like The Town of Light and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice have successfully covered parts of metal illness, it’s great to see Anamorphine portraying and raising attention about how depression can affect people. The way it does this makes Anamorphine another very important part of the gaming industry, and showing how it can be used in positive ways. Hopefully resulting in giving people who play it the ability to try to help friends or family members suffering from depression, or people suffering it getting the help they need.
Anamorphine raises the awareness of Depression using a very artistic way, telling you the story using only visual presentation and audio. Even though there really isn’t much to the game outside of the story, with the gameplay coming across as a walking and bike riding simulator, I still feel it is worth experiencing. But, given this and the likeliness you wont revisit it after the hour and half play-through, I would say wait and pick it up when it is on sale.
Also available on HTC Vive (PlayStation VR support to come at later date)
Developer: Artifact 5
Buy Anamorphine on Steam