Wednesday, 30 May 2018 09:00

Forgotton Anne Review

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Square Enix knew what it was doing when it teamed up with ThroughLine Games to publish their superb delight, Forgotton Anne. Forgotton Anne is a lush, hand-animated adventure that takes all the best pages from the anime textbook and fuses them into an enchanting puzzle platformer. The accessible gameplay makes this petite indie a joy for anyone to encounter, and subsequently be captured by, as the story alone is worth chugging through the actual platforming for.

Anne, Forgotten

Forgotton Anne takes place in the Forgotten Lands, a place where items that humans have forgotten or mislaid go to live. These items are called Forgotlings, and are sentient beings that take on an extremely interesting color the more you encounter and the further you progress. You are Anne, the Enforcer, a rather intimidating human woman who is known for her discipline and earnestness in carrying out her work in protecting and subjugating Forgotlings.

Anne and her master Bonku are both human, which in and of itself is a conundrum. If you’re in the land of object Forgotlings that are the result of human carelessness, what are humans doing there, as well? The plot thickens as you learn that Master Bonku is trying to build a bridge back to the Ether, the place where humans reside, so that they and privileged Forgotlings can return. But a rebel attack planned by discontent Forgotlings rudely halts the smooth progression of those plans, and our story, as Anne is catapulted forward.

Navigate A Stunningly Sculpted World

The story starts with so many intriguing questions that you can’t help but let yourself be carried onwards in its current — but that’s not your only incentive for not exiting out after (too many) hours. Forgotton Anne may be 2D, but what ThroughLine Games has done with 2D is absolutely staggering. Its hand-animated art is simply awe-inspiring, inviting you to spend time just standing around and taking everything in like a tourist in a completely foreign and enchanting land.

Platforming through Forgotton Anne’slovely landscapes is relatively easily accomplished, as controls consist of standard commands for running, jumping, hanging off of ledges, and the like. The twist is in the utilization of Anima, the energy that seems to keep everything going. Anima fuels Anne’s wings, which allow her to leap vertically and horizontally substantially farther than without. On a keyboard, the platforming does feel, at times, a touch herky-jerky. This should be remedied by switching to a controller, but it’s mildly disappointing to have it occasionally function as though the keyboard controls were perhaps… forgotten… in lieu of the controller’s.

Surprisingly Intricate Puzzling

Forgotton Anne is first and foremost a platformer, but it certainly doesn’t hesitate to intertwine puzzling into its gameplay. Puzzling primarily consists of directing the flow of Anima through pipes to turn on or off certain machines, which will then allow you to progress. However, moving levers to direct the flow of Anima requires that your device have Anima in it — as does using your wings.

This provides a unique challenge in segments where you must consider how and when to deplete your Anima in favor of making a machine move. Furthermore, the puzzles become less and less obvious as you get further in, forcing you to really and truly explore your surroundings and backtrack multiple times to make sure you haven’t missed anything important. Because Forgotton Anne shifts perspective in 2.5D fashion, allowing you to traverse the landscape in the foreground or the background, it’s easy to become lost in all the different areas and to lose track of your ultimate goal.

But When The Atmosphere Is This Good…

In this indie, losing tracking of your ultimate goal is never a bad thing. Almost all of the dialogue has powerful voice acting behind it, and all of the Forgotlings you meet have distinct personalities and designs of their own, even if they’re clearly insignificant to the plot. The music is phenomenal — worthy of any Studio Ghibli film. Somehow, even ascending and descending staircases feels good in this indie. Getting lost? That’s a pleasure.

The unusual darkness of the plotline, which won’t be discussed in depth here, is yet another striking trait of Forgotton Anne. You play as Anne, but instead of being a stereotypical hero archetype, our hero possesses a hint of cruelty that makes her refreshing to watch and choose dialogue options for. The world of the Forgotlings, suffice to say, is not something from a Disney fairytale. It’s a multifaceted place that will hook your interest early and keep you wondering and wandering until the very end.

An Animated Gem

For the art alone, Forgotton Anne is laudable. It doesn’t set out to make any waves with its gameplay, but everything supporting that gameplay is of a quality that is so undeniable even the uninitiated must stop and take notice. The writing is some of the best writing I’ve personally seen in a long time, and could be ludicrously easily translated into a superb movie at a moment’s notice.

Forgotton Anne isn’t a revolutionary title, but it does set the bar for similar cinematic storytelling entries. It brims with the love and effort that was put into crafting all of its complex beauty, and it’s impossible to not be swept away by its heart and its thoughtful storytelling. ThroughLine Games has given us a petite masterpiece in Forgotton Anne that I, personally, will always be grateful for.


The Verdict: Excellent

Forgotton Anne is a visual splendor rivaling the likes of fellow animated, but Triple-A, titles like Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. Its mesmerizing story competes readily with its spectacularly beautiful art, for which the platforming and puzzling gameplay is only a complement. Forgotton Anne is unmistakably a diminutive treasure that deserves to never itself be forgotten.

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Taryn Ziegler

Taryn is a digital content strategist with an avid appetite for literature and gaming. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell with a degree in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, and since then has been engaged in copywriting for businesses from AutoNation to DirtFish Rally School. While she'll happily play most games set in front of her, Taryn heartily prefers a good ol' turn-based strategy RPG, such as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Divinity: Original Sin.