Launching the interstellar spaceship “Hope,” humanity shunts a baby into the cosmos off of a shattered Earth, its remnants orbiting the fractured rock. You awaken twenty-some-odd lightyears out, the cyropod next to yours bloodied, bearing a note reading “Find me.” Now grown, you don an exo-suit and set off for the alien surface of a nearby planet with nothing more than a trusty blaster in tow.
Anew: The Distant Light (@AnewTheGame) is a Metroidvania from developer Resonator, staffed by Steve Copeland and Jeff Spoonhower, with music from Wilbert Roget. A star-studded roster if there ever was one, the three have crafted a superb action title with juicy graphics, slick gameplay, and a world begging to be explored further. I got my hands on a preview build and quickly pored over the contents of the demo.
First and foremost, the striking visuals jump right out at you. Finding a balance between the uncanny style of The Swapper and the collage-like playfulness of And Yet It Moves, Anew‘s visual style is crisp and clearly meticulously considered, its sweeping vistas never overtaking the delicate squishiness of the planet’s denizens. Alongside those critters, however, are imposing, geometric, robot-like entities who want nothing more than to fill you full of laser-cauterized holes.
Dodging the attacks of these enemies is key to survival, as even your exo-suit provides only a bare minimum of protection from their assaults. Thankfully, you quickly find yourself outfitted with an energy shield that protects you as long as its reserves last, and also allows entry to areas blocked off by errant energy beams. Per standard Metroidvania fare, this is a recurring pattern; what you find expands not only your arsenal, but your mobility, granting access to previously untenable areas. A particularly salient example is a pair of gloves that lets you climb walls.
However, where the game differs from most in the genre is that it features several vehicles to command over the course of your journey. My personal favorite is a large, ancient-looking mech that fires a massive ray that blasts through enemies. Two other pilotables are featured in the demo as well: a speedy, rocket-equipped rover, and a flying disc for navigating more distressing environments.
Underneath these tight gameplay elements and stand-out art direction is a wonderfully orchestrated soundtrack pinning the whole experience to something almost Spielberg-ian. Daring escapes and murky revelations find themselves elevated by the music, the score driving everything home for the player in the best ways possible. It’s easily one of the best parts of the experience, and something definitely worthy of a stand-alone release.
All in all, Anew proves itself to be well worth keeping an eye on. Equal parts satisfying and tantalizing, the team at Resonator have quite the gem on their hands. I personally cannot wait for the full release, come when it may, as I want nothing more than to wander through every nook and cranny of this world.
Catherine Brinegar is a trans game developer and filmmaker who explores the surreal and abstract in her work. Beyond her creative endeavors she enjoys losing herself inside other worlds, interactive and not. Finding inspiration in everything, Catherine aims to see all the world has to offer, through the continual conversation of art. You can keep up with her on twitter @cathroon.