By Marty Mulrooney
Forgotton Anne is an indie adventure-platformer developed by ThroughLine Games (based in Copenhagen, Denmark) and published by Square Enix Collective. Players take control of a young woman named Anne in a magical world called the Forgotten Lands where everyday forgotten items – old toys, letters, single socks – come to life. As the feared ‘enforcer’, Anne must keep the ‘Forgotling’ population in line and squash the rebel uprising… but at what cost?
Forgotton Anne is a feast for the senses from the outset. The opening cutscene transitions into gameplay seamlessly (it will take a moment before you realise you’re actually in control), with the entire affair looking like a classic Studio Ghibli animated feature. For an indie endeavour it’s genuinely incredible to behold, a beautiful cartoon world brought to life and made interactive.
As the player moves Anne, the animation continues to impress; running ends with her slowing down and huffing due to a stitch in her side. However, such detail seemingly comes at a cost. Jumping (and later, wing-jumping) in particular can feel imprecise, but in truth everything feels a little bit clunky. This is exacerbated by dialogue that cannot be skipped, although thankfully you’ll want to listen to most of it as the script and voice acting are both excellent.
The game begins with Anne awakening to chaos in the Forgotten Lands; rebel Forgotlings have set off a series of tactical explosions. The entire world runs on an energy called ‘anima’, which also gives life to the Forgotlings themselves. For example, that’s how a scarf can walk and talk, with a unique personality entirely its own: anima. What makes Anne so scary to the Forgotlings is that she has the ability to manipulate anima with a device called the Arca; in her official capacity as the enforcer, she can even drain a Forgotling until they die.
When Forgotlings first arrive they are given a job by Master Bonku, the only other human in the Forgotten Lands besides Anne. However, some Forgotlings refuse to contribute to Master Bonku’s ‘society’, or to help him build a bridge to the real world. These rebels believe something is rotten in Denmark and they intend to prove it. As Anne investigates their initial attacks and tracks them down, she will have to make many difficult decisions and eventually pick a side.
The plot is quite predictable and it’s a given from the outset that the rebels won’t turn out to be as bad as they first appear. However, Forgotton Anne does a wonderful job of making the decision-making moments feel like they actually matter, with each ethical dilemma given an appropriate sense of weight. Players will come to care about the rebels while feeling conflicted due to Anne’s previous relationship with Master Bonku, who has been like a father to her.
There are regular puzzles throughout – mostly involving the manipulation of anima to power doors and machines – but the focus is on progressing the story by exploring and chatting to the other characters. Inspector Magnum – a walking (well, hopping), talking, law enforcing gun that idolises Anne – is just one of the many quirky characters players will come across throughout their adventure. Yet it’s Anne’s complicated friendship with the rebel leader Fig that gives the game its heart and soul.
Forgotton Anne may be a little bit clunky to control at times, but the execution of its story and world is anything but. This is a lovely indie adventure that will completely envelop players in its world. Not only does it look stunning, it sounds great too; the soundtrack by Danish composer Peter Due is note perfect, concreting the idea that Forgotton Anne is an animated movie gamers can control.
There are two different endings to choose from and while neither is completely satisfying, Anne’s journey is one well worth taking nonetheless. You’ll come for the beautiful animated graphics, but you’ll stay for the fully realised world. How ironic that a video game about people and things becoming forgotten is so utterly memorable.
8 OUT OF 10