Game Recs

The Newest RPG On Game Pass Won't Waste Your Time

Anuchard keeps it short, sweet, and stylish.

Time is money, and most of us don't have enough of either. This is exacerbated by the staggering amount of choices we have to make everyday on food, on tech, and our entertainment. Even our distractions can’t distract us from our predicament. Too many of them demand too much of our time, especially RPGs. What do you do when you want a nice RPG experience but don’t have dozens of hours of free time to spend? You hop on Xbox Game Pass and check out Anuchard, that’s what.

Retro action RPG Anuchard, developed by stellarNull, is new to Game Pass in February. It’s styled after the SNES cult classic Soul Blazer, a 1992 RPG from Quintet. Both games are organized around dungeon-diving in various towns and villages in order to rescue hapless townsfolk who got trapped in the subterranean subterfuge, which unlocks new NPCs and improvements for the town. Anuchard is very much a modern game though, with sharp aesthetics and a phenomenal soundtrack that give it the rarified air of a solidly interesting indie.

The biggest selling point for busy gamers is the bite-sized campaign. Most players can get through the whole thing in about 10 hours. Diehard RPG fanatics might be let down by the relatively short campaign, but don’t get discouraged. Would you rather have 10 good hours or 100 bad ones? Anuchard doesn’t overstay its welcome, and right around the time things start to get repetitive the game is wrapping up.

The hook of the game is its simple to learn yet hard to master controls. You play as the Bellwielder, so named because you wield the mythical Audros Bell — a weapon, a key to the magical underworlds, and so much more. You have a very basic three-hit combo attack, but it produces an effective knockback. You’ll often need to bounce enemies into walls and other objects to break down their defenses. Pace and positioning become increasingly important as the difficulty ramps up, which elevates things beyond mere button mashing.

All that combat isn’t for nothing. As you free NPCs from dungeons, they return to the surface and offer you aid in your journey. They have roles like chefs and herbalists that help you cook up new recipes that improve your health and strength, among other things. Gathering and experimenting with ingredients is as crafty as it gets, another benefit of a streamlined playtime. There’s no endless grind for resources here, just plenty of rewards for exploring the world to its fullest.

Cooking new foods is great for your health, and for helpful combat buffs, too.


And the world of Anuchard is arguably its greatest asset. Indie RPGs live and die by their aesthetic choices, and the style here is unlike anything you’ve ever played. The protagonist still looks expressive despite being faceless, thanks to lively character models, and the enemy design reminded me of Neon Genesis: Evangelion, thanks to the clever use of geometric shapes. There’s a lot of cubes and beams and things that fly without wings.

There’s also a lot of puzzles. The same bouncy combat mechanics come into play during your puzzle-solving as you whack floating orbs around obstacles to activate various switches. It is simple at first, but the game cleverly introduces new obstacles as you progress which keeps things just challenging enough to stop things from getting repetitive. And, again, this is where being a short game comes in handy. You don’t play it long enough for it to start to feel like a slog, and things stay fresh until the very end.

There are lots of characters to meet along the way, some more helpful than others.


The story is probably what divides players the most. There isn’t much in terms of character development, so anyone looking for a buddy-focused RPG that serves up memorable moments full of growth and comedy should look elsewhere. But thematically, there is a noticeable progression into darker, more mature issues. There are two endings to the game, and it tasks you with making some heavy choices. I would be remiss not to again mention the superb music, which underscores all the key scenes and adds so much to the atmosphere. If you can thrive on vibes and a few quirky bits of dialogue then you’ll find a lot to like here.

Anuchard offers players a unique RPG experience without demanding a ton of time. You’re in the game just long enough that by the time you start noticing flaws it’s basically over. It’s a wonderful weekend adventure and a great palate cleanser for players working between the big AAA behemoths in their backlog. If you’re in a gaming rut and looking for something different, stop looking and play Anuchard.

Anuchard is available now on Game Pass. It’s also for sale on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC.

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