The first thing you notice upon starting Forgotton Anne is how beautiful it looks. Half anime, half puzzle platformer, the game is a joy from start to finish.
The idea behind Forgotton Anne is a simple but clever one. You play as Anne who is the Enforcer in the Forgotten Lands, a place where everything that has ever been forgotten ends up. Everything from socks to lampshades, if it has been left in lost and found or under the bed it ends up here, beautifully animated and brought to life in a visually stunning way. As someone who has little to no interest in anime, even I am aware of Studio Ghibli and the art style it is most frequently associated with, and to say that playing Forgotton Anne is like playing a Studio Ghibli animation is meant in the best possible way.
While the animation might be the hook that draws you in initially, the gameplay itself is what will keep you playing. The game wastes no time in getting started, and before long you are off in search of rebels who are off causing mischief as rebels are want to do. Within Forgotton Anne’s opening moments you are quickly introduced to the main puzzle mechanic (more on that shortly), before encountering your first character in the world – a Forgotling, which is the name for all the things that walk and talk and populate the Forgotten Lands. During the course of the short conversation you are tasked with making a choice (one I will avoid spoiling here) and I can’t remember a time when a game presented me with a choice so soon that I felt so compelled to “get right”. In fact, I quickly restarted just to see how my other choice might have panned out to ensure I was getting the best possible outcome during my first playthrough.
This illusion of choice isn’t unusual, nor is it something that games have never done before, but what struck me was how quickly I was drawn into the world of Forgotton Anne, and how quickly I felt my choices had consequence. Even more, I actually cared about making the right one. The game does a masterful job of sucking you in, and although the encounter I detail here is the first of many, it is not by any means a one-off. In fact, these choices aren’t signposted or advertised until well after they have played out, and although the only dialogue options you are ever presented with limit you to 2 options at a time, you always feel that some choices will have a consequence later on, which compel you to get them right.
- Developer: ThroughLine Games
- Release Date: May 15th, 2018
- Price: $19.99/£15.99/€19.99
Through the dialogue you can play Anne anyway you choose, however sometimes these options come off as a little clunky or heavy-handed. Later, during an interrogation scene, some of the options you are presented with are a bit on the nose, but the overall charm that Forgotton Anne oozes does allow you to overlook these small complaints, and they generally work well within the narrative.
Platforming too can be a little clunky. Anne can run and jump, in a way that made me think of the old Sega classic Flashback, and it is here that sometimes the platforming does feel a bit rough around the edges. This is a minor complaint in that it never really interferes with gameplay, but at times something does look a bit off particularly when Anne is jumping from platform to platform or pulling herself up onto one.
Puzzling in Forgotton Anne is a much slicker affair. As the Enforcer, Anne can use an Arca device to distil Forgotlings, which is essentially a politer way of saying suck their soul out and store it for use later. Each Forgotling is “animated” using anima, which in turn can be used to power devices and gizmo’s that litter the world. As well as being able to be sucked out of certain characters you encounter, anima can be slurped straight out of batteries that you find at crucial points around the world. When your Arca device is fully charged, you can then use it to power up machinery and objects as you puzzle your way around.
Handily, when you activate your Arca device, the world immediately around you turns blue, as if looked at through some funky sort of x-ray goggles. This view allows you to actively see what you can interact with using your Arca, either charging up or depleting as you see fit. Equally some puzzles require you to divert the flow of anima through pipes and vents to power up devices in a certain order to progress further. This simple mechanic is what powers the many puzzles in Forgotton Anne, and it is one of the games strongest elements. The puzzles themselves start easily enough, but quickly progress in difficulty in a way that feels both challenging and refreshing in it stops them feeling stale.
Another equally strong point are the Forgotlings that populate the Forgotton Lands. Every Forgotling is personified in such a way that their individual character shine through, and a times I was reminded of Who Framed Roger Rabbit as I watched Anne interacting with a variety of characters based on familiar objects. These characters all make the world of Forgotton Anne feel alive, and work well to create a game that is both visually appealing and emotionally satisfying.
Forgotton Anne is a charming platformer that is both challenging and visually gratifying. It’s relatively short campaign is crafted in such a way that it will stay with you for a while after you’ve finished playing, and it’s use of choice and how it impacts the storyline later will definitely have you revisiting the Forgotten Lands after the end credits have rolled. If you like anime or simply like a good story, Forgotton Anne is well worth a look.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.