The floating continent of Anuchard has long since fallen. Its people scattered across the world, all that remains is a small village near the coast and the mysterious dungeon. The five guardian deities retreated to the dungeon depths before the fall, and any who enter after them return as statues.The people place their hopes in the prophecy of the Bellweilder; an individual who will ring in a new age by restoring the gods and continents to their rightful places.
Anuchard is a bit of an odd game. It’s part dungeon crawler, part city builder, and part puzzle game. You play as the Bellweilder, and enter the dungeon to retrieve the souls of those who perished inside as well as the five guardians. To accomplish this, you wield a bell with a surprisingly small yet versatile moveset. You can perform a three hit combo by pressing A, and dodge or knock enemies away with B. While your combo is your main damage dealer, most enemies start off with at least one shield stack, which you can only remove by knocking them into a wall. This is essentially the full depth combat provides, and it can get pretty tedious with how often you have to fight and how slow you walk.
Despite that, combat isn’t really the focus of Anuchard. Each section of the dungeon is filled with puzzles to solve. Most puzzles involve knocking a green ball into a red switch to open a door. Slowly you’ll be introduced to more and more complications on this simple premise, such as teleporters, walls only the ball can move through, and more. I found the puzzles started out a bit braindead, but by the third biome they became a lot more interesting with all of the mechanics you need to deal with. You can brute force quite a few of them, which can be good or bad depending on your perspective, and while I do wish there were more puzzle types this works well enough for the game’s run time.
Inside the dungeon you’ll find several types of collectables. You can find the souls of some minor NPCs to restore back in town, as well as resources to upgrade the town. Each biome has a unique type of resources as well as a more generic type, which are both required for upgrades in certain areas. These upgrades can be cosmetic, such as filling in a pond, or more mechanical like having enemies you knock away deal damage to other foes in their path. It’s a neat system and connects the dungeon crawling and story focused segments. However, it is a bit shallow considering most upgrades are purely visual, incentivising you to save your resources to buy more useful upgrades. While the game does have side quests, I didn’t have the chance to do any of them because they are introduced and expire very quickly, usually between each section of the dungeon.
Sadly, one big reason I didn’t engage with side quests is that the game is horrendously written and/or translated. Characters lack any sort of voice or personality, making everyone feel exactly the same, and word choice and sentence structure often feels incredibly awkward. The game has quite a lot of dialogue too, both in and out of the dungeon, and it feels poorly written. The story is very predictable too, which is a shame because a good plot could have made the game much more engaging.
While the gameplay does leave a bit to be desired and the writing feels careless, the music is anything but. Given the abstract, pixel art style the game uses retro tunes akin to the NES or SEGA Genesis. Almost every tune is an absolute bop, and kept me going through the less exciting parts of the dungeon. Sound effects have a retro charm as well, with some bosses having bit crushed voice clips. I do wish your attacks sounded more like a bell, given that you are hitting things with a giant bell, but the sound effects have a satisfying crunch to them.
So far, it may sound like Anuchard is a fairly generic dungeon crawler with a lot of missed potential. And while that is true, I feel like it’s at least worth taking a look at. From the third biome onward the level design improves dramatically and actually becomes a lot of fun. It’s a fascinating shift to see play out if you’re interested in game design, as if the developers were still figuring out what they wanted the game to be for the first two thirds.
Anuchard presents some interesting concepts, but is executed sloppily. While combat is extremely simple, level design is lackluster, and most puzzles are too easy, the final hour or so holds a lot of promise.