Any game that tells me to "Hack into God" is okay in my book
Just a few months ago I played Mages’ influential 2009 visual novel Steins;Gate, the second title in their Science Adventure series, for the first time. This turns out to have been rather good timing, as I learned just weeks later that the sixth and latest entry in that series, Anonymous;Code, was making its western debut later that year after its 2022 release in Japan. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Anonymous;Code, mostly I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be more grounded like Steins;Gate or if it was going to be something more fantastical and wild. It was, for that reason, a surprise that the answer was the latter scenario. While I was kind of skeptical of this direction at first, Anonymous;Code quickly grabbed my attention and convinced me to join it for the ride it was promising to be.
Most of Anonymous;Code is seen from the perspective of Pollon Takaoka, a young hacker living in the Nakano ward of Tokyo in the year 2037. Pollon is a member of a two person hacker group known as Nakano Symphonies with his best friend Cross Yumikawa. While most of Symphonies’ work is illegal in nature, Pollon sees himself as different from other hackers who are generally just in it for the money and fame. Pollon believes in helping those in need, no matter what. He’s unfortunately still a stupid teen boy, though, and one day he proves this without a doubt when he screws up and lies about being on his way to elope with his girlfriend, who doesn’t exist. This imaginary girl’s name is Momo Aizawa, and just when he thinks the jig might be up a girl suddenly approaches him as if she had been planning to meet him. The two start walking away, and Pollon is shocked when the girl introduces herself as Momo Aizawa. This gets even more surprising when the pair are suddenly surrounded by the army, who is seemingly after Momo, and the two have to make a run for it.
This escape fails, and Momo is taken away. Pollon manages to get away with the help of two strangers named Oz and Nonno, but their attempt to get Momo back is also a failure. Just when things seem to be at their most hopeless, Pollon is suddenly made aware of an app that has been secretly installed to his AR PC, an app which gives him the ability to save and load the real world as if it were a video game. Using this app he goes back to before they were caught and uses his knowledge from the first time to successfully escape with Momo in tow. From here, Momo reveals that she has come to Japan in order to find a legendary hacker who she believes can save the world from an upcoming apocalypse. Taking advantage of his newfound Loading ability, Pollon vows to help Momo in her quest no matter what it takes, and what follows is a thrilling and action packed rollercoaster ride about worldwide conspiracies and the prevention of various disasters that is sure to keep players engaged the whole way through.
The main thing that separates Anonymous;Code from other games in its genre is its use of the Save/Load system. At certain points in the story the player can press L2 to bring up the app on Pollon’s display, at which point Pollon will take the reins and load one of the “save files” he’s made throughout the story. These provide a way past certain bad endings as Pollon will go back with the knowledge of his previous run through the scenario. It should be noted that these saves and this loading menu are both different from the game’s actual saving, though after awhile I didn’t find myself saving manually very often as the game features an autosave that’s relatively frequent and almost always gives you the ability to go back before a possible Load point in the story. If you fail to load before disaster strikes, or if you load at the wrong moment, you’ll be greeted with a bad end screen that gives you a hint about what you should do, followed by being spit back to the game’s title screen. I actually found this part a bit annoying, as I would have personally preferred it if it had just taken me to the autosave menu to load right away, but this is something I consider a minor complaint. The only other problem with this system is that there are a few moments in the later parts of the story where figuring out when to have Pollon Load feels like kind of a crapshoot, these parts led me to simply hammer L2 in the hopes I would eventually find the right moment. These are few and far between, but they are quite annoying when they occur.
Overall Anonymous;Code is one of the more interesting visual novels I have played. The animated 3D models used in place of the usual static 2D character portraits do a fantastic job of giving each character personality by making them feel more alive and expressive. The soundtrack is also great, composed by series regular Takeshi Abo, and it especially shines during particularly action heavy scenes. The localization is overall solid though there were a few typos here and there as well as a line or two that felt a little stilted or awkward, but again these do not occur very often. I am not sure if I would put it at the same level as its most successful predecessor (Steins;Gate), but Anonymous;Code is a very worthy addition to the Science Adventure series and a game that anybody interested in visual novels should definitely take a look at.