Forgotton Anne Hands-On Preview
orgotton [sic] Anne is the newly unveiled title from Copenhagen based developers Throughline Games. It was unveiled during the EGX 2016 show and is part of Square Enix’s Incubator initiative.
Forgotton Anne reminds me of a time in gaming that’s fallen by the wayside in recent years. This reminds me of one of those hidden gems that came out of small or b-tier publishers in the late 90’s and early 00’s. I don’t mean that in any detriment. More like something quirky you’d not heard of from Japan that managed to snag a limited release.
Throughline Games have certainly managed to make a gorgeous looking title in this adventure platformer. A very strong Anime / almost Ghibli-esque art style runs through every aspect of the game from the title menus to the talking scarf creature Dilly. In fact it really made me want to go dig out Professor Layton even though these are clearly different games.
The small ten minute playable sequence on offer here slowly introduced you to the world of Forgotton Anne. Anne is an enforcer. She is tasked with keeping order in the Forgotton Realm, as she sets out to squash a rebellion that might prevent her master, Bonku, and herself from returning to the human world.
The Forgotton Realm, in the words of the developer:
Imagine a place where everything that is lost and forgotten goes; old toys, letters, single socks. The Forgotten Realm is a magical world inhabited by Forgotlings, creatures composed of mislaid objects longing to be remembered again.
Play is simple enough. You must navigate each area and perform some simple environmental puzzles. Using the Anima energy that Anne finds around the world you can perform certain tasks like energizing a light switch or a door mechanism.
Anne animates beautifully as do the other NPCs that I encountered in the preview. The in-game camera zooms in and out seamlessly to reveal close-up cut scenes then draw back to show you large areas of the level. Each area has been meticulously created and it certainly shows. Stills looks good, but seeing the game running it really comes offers something special.
It would appear that certain choices you make in the world are stored and have some impact on the game – although what impact wasn’t really clear from this short play other than a brief conversation with what looked like a talking pillow polishing a tower. For example you had the choice to either eradicate the character Dilly (a Forgotling) or talk to him more. Eradicating Dilly (by absorbing the Anima that keeps him alive) results in a message on screen informing you that could’ve played out differently. It adds a nice little twist to the usual platform-puzzle action.
For a game only now being announced the voice, music and sound are already very mature and characters are well realised. Before playing the voice of Anne felt like it should be a delicate British accent. Yet in playing the game a soft American voice was used and it works very well indeed. Likewise the voice work for the NPCs were also excellent.
Gameplay wise it’s hard to know much more than that really. The short demo showed some of the abilities with the Anima energy (activated with a simple button press and selecting items with the stick) and introduced the movement basics. One thing of note is that the jumping needs to be practised. I watched many people struggle initially with the part of the tutorial that introduced the longer sprinting jump. It seems to prioritise animation over execution so knowing when to press jump is a matter of practise and occasional frustration – but this is still early days for the game.
The seamless 2d cinematic world that Throughline Games have created for Forgotton Anne lends itself well to the story they are hinting at telling. Through Anne and her quest to deal with the rebels I sense an emotional resonance that could help lift Anne’s story above the crowd. There’s a certain melancholy to the world that permeates every aspect. Time will obviously tell but so far the game is looking and sounding very good indeed. A good sign after a preview is you wanted to play more, for the credits not to roll and that’s exactly how I felt with Forgotton Anne.
Look for more information on Forgotton Anne coming as we push towards the 2017 release date for PC, Xbox One and PS4.