Anoxemia

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Anoxemia on Steam

MSRP: $3.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux

Release: 1/16/15


I want to start out by saying I really really would like to like Anoxemia.  It’s part puzzle platformer, part walking simulator, all creepy and lovely, and it’s got so much potential if it ever stops getting out of it’s own way.

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I really like everything about Anoxemia’s art style – to the point that I don’t even hate the graphical menu system most of the time.  The comic style cutscenes are pretty good for setting the mood. Really, if there was a story mode or an exploration mode, I’d be all over this game – I just want to float around at my own pace and pick plants.

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However, actually playing the game has been an exercise in frustration.  Swim too high, and you hit acid and die with only a little warning.  There’s very little indication of what items can hurt you, and what’s perfectly safe. I also couldn’t figure out if things like using your sonar or speed boost had an effect on your power or oxygen and how to really understand how critical those systems were at any given time.  But perhaps the most frustrating thing for me was that the between level cut uses a very similar – if not identical – graphic to death, so it took me a while to figure out I was progressing and not actually dying to absolutely nothing.

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I threw in the towel when, after hitting the escape key once too often in succession, my computer went to black screen, and was unresponsive to anything other than a hard reboot.  Additionally, the website is completely nonfunctional in both Chrome and the default Win 10 browser, Microsoft Edge. Honestly, I wish I’d come across this game as a mobile title, as the movement might have felt more intuitive on a touch screen.

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Overall, for me, Anoxemia was a miss, not because it’s a bad game, but because it’s a clumsy one.  I felt like it was really uncommunicative, and although I don’t necessarily hate difficult games, I get irritated when figuring out what I’m supposed to do makes up a large portion of the difficulty.  Too much trial and error with not enough direction means I probably won’t revisit it anytime soon.

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