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October 2021

Anew: The Distant Light

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: Resonator
Release Date: 2021


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Anew: The Distant Light'

by Cody Medellin on July 31, 2020 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Anew: The Distant Light is an open-world, dual-stick action game which showcases a beautifully painted, storybook environment.

An indie game that takes on the Metroidvania formula should come as no surprise, since the market is awash with that genre nowadays. That same indie title going for a sci-fi theme also isn't news, since that's been a popular theme since the beginning of the medium. Although it's a sci-fi Metroidvania title, Anew: The Distant Light piques my interest because it is so strange.

The preview build bears no semblance to the side-scrolling open world that's promised in the game description. The build warns you about this beforehand, but you still see hints of the formula, such as being able to pick up new abilities and tools. Places may be inaccessible for the time being, with doors and items that tempt you to return when the time is right.

With that in mind, the game plays out rather well in a linear fashion, mostly because it does a great job of contributing to the sense of confusion and wonder about the world around you. The opening moments, beyond the cut scenes of a ship fleeing an almost dead Earth and an infant slowly growing up in a sleeping chamber, start out in a familiar manner. You wake up next to a cracked sleeping pod, and you see a note written in blood that asks you to find someone. You stumble into your spacesuit and find the ship infested with green goo and small aliens. After finding a machine gun, you make your way out of the ship, and it isn't long before you discover a warpgate.

This is where Anew takes a turn for the strange, as you're essentially given a preview of each of the biomes you'll be asked to explore. Some warps may take you to benign places like a cave, but others drop you deep underwater or in a desert. Each place is wildly different, and right now the lack of context is a driving factor in wanting to explore. It also helps that there's some variety, with some sections having you drive a jeep, pilot a UFO, or maneuver a giant mech.

The only thing missing from the preview build are puzzles. For a game that seems so heavily inspired by the genre, there's no hint of what the puzzles will be like in the game. The platforming and combat have already revealed themselves to be solid, and the faint example of a puzzle you'll see is using your shield to block a persistent laser. Granted, the game is still early in its development, but for those who are looking for the complete package, its absence is befuddling.

In the end, the preview build for Anew: The Distant Light does a great job of making a positive impression on the player. The mechanics are generally solid, but the strange worlds make the whole thing intriguing, especially since the demo has been altered in a way to keep most of the game shrouded in mystery. There's still plenty of time before Anew gets close to a release date, but based on what we've seen so far, this title is worth keeping an eye on.

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