Video Game Review: Forgotton Anne
Forgotton Anne’s distinct art style makes even the mundane memorable.
Forgotton Anne generated quite a bit of buzz with its anime-inspired art style. The actual game retains the charm generated by the graphics, but wrapped in a puzzle-based platformer that mostly hits the right notes.
From its opening moments, it’s clear that Forgotton Anne wants to present itself as an interactive anime. While the game’s platform elements are generally more focused on puzzles and interactions rather than precise combat, this dependence on authentic animation creates a control problem. Jumps and movements trigger animation cycles, and in order to let all these play out, the trade-off is that controls aren’t as crisp or responsive as you’d want them to be.
From an interaction standpoint, most of the game focuses on switches, levers, and doors, along with talking to characters. The only time it gets tricky is with jumping, as it’s not the most forgiving and requires repeated efforts to get that precise jump. Trigger buttons activate a pair of mechanical wings for extended jumps as well as sprinting; for the former, it might have made more sense to have the wings be always on instead of a modifier.
Even if you’re not an anime fan, it’s plain to see that Forgotton Anne is one of the most visually striking games to come out in recent memory. The lush colour palette combined with lively characters and steampunk design makes even the most mundane elements vibrant.
The game shifts between anime-style cut scenes and gameplay fairly seamlessly thanks to this integrated style, and the transitions are only noticeable due to the 2D view of the gameplay areas.
It’s clear that hand-drawn animation cells were involved, and because of this, the game never feels like computer models being puppeted. Instead, the game really does feel like animation come to life (this does affect control precision as mentioned above). It also helps that the game has a symphonic score and excellent voice acting.
Forgotton Anne‘s design is focused on story first, gameplay second. While there is a lot of gameplay in the seven-hour length, it never gets into intense twitch territory, and instead it unrolls at a fairly leisurely pace that focuses mostly on puzzles and interactions with other characters.
One of the key drivers of the puzzles is the use of Anima, which is an energy source Anne can siphon from objects and creatures. Puzzles are usually solved by selectively activating via Anima or switching Anima flow to unlock controls and enable pathways.
Some of these puzzles can be obtuse at times, and because of the game’s lack of precision when jumping, you may be scratching your head chasing the wrong solution.
We hit a few instances when we thought we simply were not making the jump because of the control issues but the answer lay elsewhere; that kind of thing can be frustrating, but it never gets to the point when you’ll be rage-quitting.
The game’s story and visual charm paint over a lot of gameplay cracks, and the adventure itself will be worth it for anyone that’s ever watched a Studio Ghibli film.
For us, the tone seemed like a mix of the titular heroine of Nausicaa and the fantastical world of Howl’s Moving Castle. If that combination sounds enticing to you, then you’ll love Forgotton Anne, despite its somewhat clunky controls.
A beautiful and unique game, Forgotton Anne‘s amazing visuals and engrossing story are only marred by subpar controls. For anime or streampunk fans, as well as gamers that enjoy a strong story with puzzle mechanics, it’s definitely worth a look. Also, we still have no idea why “Forgotton” is spelled the way it is…