Beautiful, eerie and ambiguous, Forgotten Anne is the latest title announced from the ever interesting Square Enix Collective. Developed by the Copenhagen-based ThroughLine Games, Forgotten Anne was officially revealed, and was playable at the Euro Gamer Expo in the UK.
Forgotten Anne didn’t reveal its setting completely in the first 15 minutes that we played, presumably to keep its hand-crafted world shrouded in mystery. But from what I played, it’s a really interesting set up. Forgotten Anne takes place in the Forgotten Realm, the world where all forgotten and mislaid items – old toys, odd socks, abandoned scarfs and so on – end up. These creatures, named Forgottlings, then become sentient. Think the mansion’s occupants in Beauty and the Beast, sans facial features.
Two humans, Anne and Master Bonku, have wound up in the Forgotten Realm. You play as Anne as you try and get the pair back home.
The Forgotton Realm is an intriguing concept, especially when you consider the heart-breaking ramifications of two humans being trapped there, and the way the game brings boring, inanimate objects to life is really fun. The characters, you meet a scarf and a pillow with in the opening minutes, both have distinct personalities thanks to the great voice work. Despite there being no facial expressions or any distinguishing features at all to the objects, the game was still able to convey what type of character they were.
It also helps that the 2D Forgotten Realm is beautiful, which takes heavy influences from the likes of Studio Ghibli. Two separate palates of soft colours are used for light and dark, which makes them heavily contrast and gives the world an even greater atmosphere. Without lights the world is cold, dreary with dark blues and solemn greys. When lights are on the world becomes alive with vivid reds and oranges. Dark colours give the world its eerie feel, and make you long for the light. What truly gives Forgotten Anne the Ghibli feel, however, is the animation. The slightly clunky running and movement, the way the human characters’ facial expressions change, the way the rain pats against a window. It all perfectly mimics the anime masters and will no doubt he huge draw for fans.
Gameplay wise, Forgotten Anne is a hybrid of several different mechanics and genres. It has elements of 2D platforming, though nothing in the early stages of the game were challenging in the slightest. There is puzzle solving as you use Anama – a weird energy that exists in the world – to power pumps, open gates and steal the souls of troublesome Forgottlings. Dialogue options also play a big part in the game, as you can choose what you wish to say in most conversations and what you say can change the outcome of a situation. When I met a scarf, Anne was immediately suspicious that she was a rebel and soon after left him in a massive heap of inanimate wool. The game then quickly told me that the outcome of the talk could have been different, so maybe I’d still be friends with the Scarf now had the conversation stayed civil.
I was only able to play 15 minutes of what will eventually become an estimated five hour game, but my regrettably brief time spent with Forgotten Anne left me wanting more. I wanted to continue to learn about this strange and mysterious world and discover just why two humans had ended up in the world of the forgotton.