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SummaryYou won't remember this game.
The Good* Artistically beautiful graphics that genuinely resemble an animated film.
* Well-composed soundtrack
The Bad* Inconsistent voice acting
* Disappointing narrative
* Too much conversation, too little gameplay
* Poorly mixed music
The Bottom LineWhat happens when things get forgotten? Where do your socks, tablets, shoes, and other items go when you misplace them? Forgotton Anne poses one idea: they go to another world, where they become sentient beings known as Forgotlings, never to see the human world again.
Forgotton Anne (and yes, that’s spelled correctly) is an anime-inspired cinematic platformer adventure which combines platforming with puzzle-based adventuring and a choice-based narrative not unlike games such as Life is Strange and The Walking Dead. I was highly intrigued when I saw the trailer almost two years ago, and for some time Forgotton Anne was one of my most anticipated games. Despite the wait however, I think I might have misplaced my expectations for this game.
The player takes on the role of the titular Anne, a girl who resides in these forgotten lands. Except for her father figure Master Bonku, she is the only human who resides in the forsaken place. Master Bonku is an inventor and scientist who is working on building the Ether Bridge, a way for Forgotlings to travel back to the real world. One day, rebel Forgotlings break into and shut down the power plant in the hopes of shutting down the Ether Bridge. As an Enforcer (basically a Forgotling cop), she is sent in to investigate the incident and put a stop to the rebels. However, as she ventures deeper and deeper into the heart of the rebellion, she begins to question everything she’s learned about this world, and where her true loyalties lie.
Anne is equipped with a device known as the Arca. The Arca allows Anne to manipulate the flow of anima, the magical energy which not only powers devices in the forgotten lands but also gives life to the Forgotlings which end up there. The Arca has the ability to “distill” the anima from Forgotlings, thus taking their life away and returning them to the state they were in in the human world. With the Arca, Anne can distill any Forgotling she believes to be out of line, using their energy to power other devices in the world, including her mechanical wings, which she uses to make long jumps. Much of the game’s choices come down to choosing if you distill a character or choosing one of several characters to distill. You can’t just go distilling willy-nilly, however, as Anne will often stop you from distilling an NPC if its “supposed” to be kept alive. This ability is also compromised by a late-game twist that kind of makes your distillation choices feel meaningless, and in the end the distillation only feels like a means for the game to chastise the player on the choices they make.
Forgotton Anne is focused mainly on conversation and puzzle solving, rather than platforming. The publisher describes the game as having “light” platforming and puzzling, and that statement is pretty correct. The puzzles are basic and mainly require the player to manipulate the flow of anima to various devices using the Arca. There are a few mildly challenging puzzles, but they don’t come often and are bookended by long conversations and cutscenes.
The platforming isn’t much better. While the game uses the step-based movement common to cinematic platformers, there are no places where Anne can die and falling causes no damage. Anne’s wings are a neat addition that allow the designers to implement impossible jumps within a “realistic” movement system, but they are only used for much less than half of the game’s running time. They are also tricky to use, as you have to be moving pretty far back on a platform in order to pull off the long jump. The game world is very linear even when there are “paths” to choose from. On top of that, I also felt that the back half of the game felt disappointingly less involved in terms of the puzzling and platforming compared to the first part of the game. This made the gameplay feel very underwhelming for me.
Some sections of the game are long cutscenes where absolutely nothing is happening. No characters are talking and no action is happening. While these sections might have worked in a movie, in a game where you want to be doing things, all they do is drag the pace down, which leads into my next complaint. Unbelievably for a story based game, there is absolutely no option to skip dialog or cutscenes. This can make repeating sections of the game feel incredibly tedious. Considering that the game encourages you to replay sections of the game after you beat it to make different choices and outcomes, it's a shame that there is absolutely no way to speed up the process.
Forgotton Anne’s visuals are easily the best thing about the game. The art style evokes memories of any number of classic animated films, mainly Studio Ghibli but sometimes Disney as well. The Forgotten Realms are full of imagination and charm, as the developers depict how certain everyday objects would look and talk if they were alive. The camera is often moved around to great effect, such as zooming in on a dramatic moment for a closeup. 3D elements are blended in seamlessly with the 2D backdrops, and the game makes stunning use of parallax scrolling and lighting. About the only thing that looks off is Anne’s animation when moving up and down stairs. The animation itself is fine, but her movement is visually choppy and resembles climbing the stairs in the old Castlevania games, which is jarring when all of her other movement is smooth. The world itself resembles a steampunk or Victorian-era London. Forgotton Anne looks so good that there were legitimately times I had forgotten (ha) that I was playing a video game and was instead watching an animated film.
The acting in Forgotton Anne is highly inconsistent. I just hate some of the ways the characters speak, and even Anne herself feels very flat at times. I was hoping for much better in this department, especially since all dialogue is voiced.
At least Forgotton Anne’s soundtrack is actually pretty good: a collection of orchestral themes that warm the heart and stir the emotions not unlike the score of a Disney film. However, there were a few times when it just simply cut out or awkwardly transitioned between pieces. It’s also poorly mixed with the voice acting, sometimes drowning out the voices completely. While the score itself is still very good, the way it was implemented in the game could have been much better.
Forgotton Anne’s visuals are a work of beauty, but the sound design and acting lack polish, and its gameplay systems are disappointingly half-baked. I have enjoyed games with relatively “light” gameplay before, such as Night in The Woods and Life is Strange. Yet Forgotton Anne’s writing is not strong enough to make up for the shortcomings in its gameplay, and the fact that the game incorporated watered-down elements from a genre I love that doesn’t get made very often doesn’t help. The story has serious pacing problems and the narrative is undercut by inconsistent voice acting. The only area where the game truly and unequivocally excels is in the visuals, but that’s not enough to save it. I’m actually quite surprised by the reviews the game has been getting - there are cinematic platformers and adventure games much more worth spending your time with than this one. Forget this game.