Anachronox is a brilliant game from ION Storm (Dallas), designed by none other than Tom Hall, the creator of Commander Keen.
Unfortunately, lack of funding was a problem, so ION Storm has sadly gone defunct. It all starts above Rowdy's bar, the dingiest bar on the dingiest street on the dingiest section of Anachronox, an abandoned city planet floating inside Sender One (a large sphere with spikes, allowing intergalactic travel and commerce), the largest Sender known to exist. Our hero, Sylvester "Sly" Boots, is in his office.. getting the crap beaten out of him by a mob thug. After his face is pounded, he gets thrown out the window into the bar below. Boots is broke, he owns money to the mob, and his robot PAL 18 (stands for Personal Assistant Lackey) is out of batteries. It's up to you to get him off his feet. You'll travel through the barren world of Anachronox looking for a job, and soon you'll find one with the retired curator of the MysTech museum, Grumpos Matavastros. You're on your way to save the universe.
The first thing you'll notice about Anachronox is the music-- very well done, and definitely surpasses the milestone set by Deus Ex (the opening theme is incredibly well done, it really sets an idea in your brain of how vast Anachronox really is). The game is running on a very heavily modified version of the Quake II engine, but you won't notice-- there's so much amazing architecture around you that the Quake II engine is hardly imaginable to power a vast game like this.
But what exactly makes up the gameplay? If you've played a Final Fantasy game before, you'll know. Transitions from battles are seamless (no flashy entrances), as well as cutscenes (which, by the way, are fantastic).
Basically, each one of three characters has a circular bar that elapses as time passes. When the bar is full, you can issue an order, such as attack, move, MysTech and Battle Skills. One of my favourite orders is the move action; you can move practically where ever you want in the battle field, adding another strategic aspect to battles. Also, if available, you can use items nearby (for example, in a certain boss battle, you can use a special crystal nearby to replenish your NRG [MysTech power]). ION Storm has managed to cram so many different aspects of gaming into this little round disc that it will make your head spin! You'll receive battle training at Whackmaster Jack's Temple of Beating. You'll vote on various issues to help get yourself off a planet. You'll frantically attempt to open security doors as certain doom awaits. All this and more.
Minigames are also a fun aspect of Anachronox. Each character has a world skill, that will come in handy when you need to pick locks (Boots), hack into computers (PAL), hit an unreachable switch with a loonie (Stiletto), analyze objects (Rho), and bust through walls (Paco). Grumpos' certainly is the funniest, as his is Yammer-- if somebody whose item you need, for example, Grumpos will ramble on about various issues until the person gives in. As well as world skills, other minigames are available. Ox is a simple table-top strategy game found in Rowdy's Bar. Zong, Pooper and Bugaboo are all arcade games you can play on Hephaestus.
With fantastic level design, over 30+ hours of gameplay, and an immense world out there for you to explore, Anachronox is one game you simply cannot miss. One word of advice: patch it. Anachronox is quite buggy once you get it from the store. Then, enjoy it! You won't be disappointed.