Anachronox was released June 27, 2001 exclusively for the PC; the game was built on a heavily modified version of the Quake II engine, considerably rewritten to add improvements such as a wider color palette and more complex character animations (including facial expressions).
Development took roughly three and a half years, and the development team was able to finish only about half of the game, which ends on a major cliffhanger. The story was to be completed in the sequel, tentatively titled Anachronox Prime, but the sequel was never made.
In response to favorable input about the game's story, Jake Strider Hughes (the game's cinematic director and producer) independently spliced together the game's cutscenes into an award-winning machinima movie.
Anachronox's gameplay was notably influenced by console RPGs such as Chrono Trigger, one of Tom Hall's favorite video games; although, character statistics and item collection are simplified in comparison to Chrono Trigger. Anachronox also had more or an emphasis on exploration and story-telling rather than character building.
The player plays the part of Sylvester "Sly Boots" Bucelli, a down-and-out detective in the slums of an alien world called Anachronox. This world sits inside a giant, hollow sphere called Sender One, which is the center of the galaxy's network of space-lanes.
Recruited against his will to investigate a mystery concerning the very nature of the universe, Sly travels throughout the galaxy, meeting many characters along the way, some of whom can join the player's party. Up to three characters may be in the party at one time, with the remaining ones waiting back at the Lounge of Commerce on Sender Station.
There are seven characters who are playable in Anachronox, each with a unique personality and skill set, both in and out of battle.
Sylvester "Sly Boots" Bucelli (29)
The main protagonist. Sly Boots is a private eye with an office on the city-planet Anachronox. Back in his day, he was a hotshot detective on Cordica. Now, he's more concerned with dodging his creditors drinking and away his woes at Rowdy's, a bar in the seediest section of an already seedy section of the city called "The Bricks".
He's bold, brash, overconfident, and thinks everyone likes him. He fancies himself a ladies' man, but really isn't. He claims to have held a lot of jobs and be proficient at everything, but he actually learned just enough to get him into trouble. Sly Boots has a special talent for picking locks.
Grumpos Matavastros (71)
Scholar, outdoorsman, eccentric recluse and renaissance man, he is also one of the hairiest men in the galaxy. Retired from the MysTech Museum, he now devotes his life to the study of MysTech--ancient alien artifacts mysteriously scattered across the galaxy. He’s always cranky, and rarely laughs, unless something excruciatingly painful happens to someone else.
Despite a chaotic upbringing, Grumpos never had problems defending himself against childhood bullies with his trusty staff. Given to him by his combat mentor, his great-grandfather Aloysius Matavastros, his staff has been by his side for fifty years. All manner of staffheads have graced the top of the weathered walking stick, which he cherishes like a member of his family.
A notorious pack-rat, Grumpos pays for a roof-access apartment where he has constructed a corrugated metal workshop. Inside, he continues his obsession with MysTech. In his spare time, he plays mumblety-peg and tries to solve the mysteries of the universe. Grumpos has a particular penchant for yammering.
PAL-18 (activated 20 years prior)
On his ninth birthday, shortly after the death of his father, a wide-eyed Silvestro Bucelli ripped off the wrapping paper on his only gift. Inside, he found a gleaming PAL-18 unit.
Built by Cordicom Toys, this Personal Android Lackey (Model 18) has been Boots' friend, servant and babysitter for the last twenty years. Despite suffering through Sly’s tumultuous childhood, and misplaced adolescent aggressions, PAL-18 has remained his dutiful and loyal friend. PAL doesn’t have a choice.
Cordicom recently released a PAL-21 model. Toy enthusiasts agree that though the new features do make it a better all-around lackey bot, it lacks the bouncy charm and playful design of the PAL-18. Nevertheless, PAL tends to feel inferior to the new models. He's handy for interfacing with computers and sports a special claw enhancement for self defense.
Dr. Rho Bowman (28)
The daughter of an acclaimed astrophysicist and a respected mechanical engineer, Rho Bowman spent her formative years traveling wherever her parents were lecturing that given week. Her entire life, she has never felt that she belongs anywhere.
When her controversial book, MysTech Awake!, first hit the SenderNet feeds two years ago, it was an immediate success. Eschewing technical jargon for layman aesthetics, its espousal of radical science with a subtext of spiritualism struck an immediate chord. The book was widely interpreted as a metaphor for the awakening of self by a generation of people looking for answers.
The scientific community hated it. Not just for her particular brand of populist prose, but for stating her theories were proven based on one unreplicated experiment. Criticized for peddling bad science for profit, Rho was branded a "heretic" by the Scientifica Association and cut off from all her major funding. With her career in the scientific community was over after an effective smear campaign, she disappeared into obscurity.
Rho is intelligent, well-spoken, compassionate, straightforward, and determined. She is also highly skilled in analyzing objects.
It's capital is Votowne, a highly political city lead by the members of the Democratus High Council, who spend much of the day bickering amongst themselves regarding matters both important and not so imporant. After having been saved by Sly and his crew from the threat of the Virulent Hive, the council decides to show their thanks by shrinking the entire planet down so that it may then fight along side of the heroes, as well as to keep itself hidden away from the Hive.
Democratus has a tractor-beam ability, which is useful for getting various out-of-reach items.
Stiletto Anyway (25)
Stiletto used to work with Boots as a detective, but after her carelessness in a case that led to the death of an innocent person, she went off on her own. She is bold, confident, magnetic, devil-may-care, and she travels light. A steel glare and a shift of the hip convey that she does not take crap from anybody. A turn of sharpened heel, a tilt of a polished knife blade keep all at a distance.
Stiletto prefers the company of knives and has a very accurate throwing arm.
Paco "El Puño" Estrella
Krapton Comics were a line of superhero comic books based on the exploits of real-life superheroes from planet Krapton. Rage of the Fist was their flagship title until lagging sales and a general disinterest in super heroes put Krapton Comics out of business.
With his enormous fists, Paco was capable of busting through barriers, and clobbering opponents with his powerful RageMight punch. He also had the power of flight, although there have been rumors that he's recently lost the ability.
Highlights include: Krapton Comics #12 (First appearance of El Puño); Rage of the Fist #3 (First appearance of scientist sidekick, Dr. Hush-Hush); and Rage of the Fist #32 (First appearance of super villain Rictus, who would become his chief nemesis).
Fatima Doohan (28 at death)
Fatima is Boots’ digitized secretary. She was killed in an accident. As she lay dying, Boots had her digitized and placed into a Cordicom LifeCursor. She’s not too happy with her current state and is almost always sharp with Boots.
When not busy reminding Boots how much she loves being digitized, Fatima acts as the party's secretary. She keeps track of stats, inventory, quests, and more.
A crimelord living on Anachronox, as well as Sly's arch-nemesis, of whom he's shared a long-standing street feud. After shaking down some of his thugs, Stiletto finds herself in Detta's clutches, prompting Boots to chase after her; a chase that leads to the death of his secretary. Willing to do anything to save her, Sly humbly returns to Detta's home to request a favor from him. Detta manages to place Fatima's spirit inside of a life cursor, however, Sly has difficulties repaying this debt, prompting Detta to take action.
Detta steals the keystone that Boots and Grumpos find in the mines, and after learning of it's importance, the detective and his friends break into the crime boss's fortress in order to get it back. Through both machinery and Mystec, Detta battles the heroes, but Stiletto's skillful blade throwing manages to put an end to him once and for all.
As of March 15, 2012, Anachronox is available for digital download DRM-free at Gog.com for the price of $5.99 USD. This version is installed with all current official and fan-created patches (build 46, version 1.02).
The game was also released via Steam on October 18, 2013.
PC System requirements
- OS: Windows XP or Windows Vista.
- CPU: 1.8 GHz Processor.
- RAM: 512MB RAM (1 GB recommended).
- GPU: 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 7 (compatible with DirectX 9 recommended).
- HDD: 2GB.
- Peripherals: Mouse, Keyboard.