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Forgotton Anne

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Square Enix Collective
Developer: ThroughLine Games
Release Date: Nov. 9, 2018

About David Silbert

I'm a recent college graduate from Boston, MA. When I'm not writing for WorthPlaying, I'm probably researching Celtics trade rumors or struggling to keep up with the growing library on my Nintendo Switch.


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Switch Review - 'Forgotton Anne'

by David Silbert on Jan. 23, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Forgotton Anne is a 2D cinematic adventure game combining puzzle platforming with adventure game elements.

Buy Forgotton Anne

It's stunning to see how far independent games have come over the past decade. What started with occasional hits like Braid and Castle Crashers on Steam and Xbox Live Arcade has since evolved into a burgeoning industry where even the smallest and most obscure of games can leave a lasting impact.

Forgotton Anne, developed by Throughline Games and published under Square Enix's indie-friendly "Square Enix Collective" division, is an independent title many may have missed at the tail end of 2018. A 2D adventure that's half platformer, half puzzle game, Forgotton Anne weaves an absorbing and thought-provoking yarn about a society plagued by injustice, prejudice, and the value of self-worth.

With its dynamic characters, strong voice acting, and beautiful presentation, Forgotton Anne offers a story that is well worth a look for fans of traditional adventure games. However, stiff platforming segments and stale puzzles make the game harder to recommend for those seeking an equally satisfying gameplay experience.

Forgotton Anne tells the story of Anne, a young woman who has spent her entire life stranded in an alternate universe along with her guardian, Master Bonku. Under the tutelage of Bonku, Anne watches over the lives of the "Forgotlings" — inanimate objects that have been forgotten by their real-life owners and have been reanimated in the alternate universe as living beings. From talking scarves to walking refrigerators, the Forgotlings live under the watchful eye of Anne, who is widely referred to as the "Enforcer." As the Enforcer, Anne polices the Forgotlings, maintaining order over their society. All the while, Bonku employs the efforts of a group of Forgotlings to help build a bridge back to the real world.

When an explosion goes off at a factory where Bonku's Forgotlings work, it's soon deemed by Anne to be the work of a dangerous rebel group. In her eyes, the rebels are determined to thwart Bonku's plan to guide himself, Anne, and the Forgotlings home. Armed with the ability to manipulate Anima, the energy that gives life to the Forgotlings and powers their world, Anne works to uncover the rebel plot and maintain the peace and safety of her world.

While it may sound complicated on paper, the story of Forgotton Anne follows many of the same themes and threads found in other successful books, films, and games. Anne is a strong-willed heroine with a desire to do right by both Bonku and the Forgotlings; at the same time, her naïveté leaves her prone to mistakes, especially when it comes to differentiating her friends from her foes. Meanwhile, Bonku, for all his years of caring for Anne and all the wisdom he's shared, has kept secrets from her, and that serves as the main catalyst for the plot.

At the center of the story is Anne's relationship as enforcer of the Forgotlings. Playing as Anne at the beginning of the game, it's clear that she has little remorse for bullying various members of the Forgotling society. From berating those who waste her time to "distilling" those who resist her during her investigation, Anne takes some unquestionably harsh actions in pursuit of what she deems to be the greater good. In fact, her often cruel treatment of the Forgotlings — even if they are, at the end of the day, just objects — serves as a powerful reminder of the injustices felt by the weak and oppressed in our own society today.

Thankfully, the Anne at the beginning of Forgotton Anne is a far cry from the Anne at the end of the game. While I'll refrain from saying too much to avoid spoilers, watching Anne develop as a character makes for perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Forgotton Anne's narrative.

While Anne is by far the most compelling character in the game, she is bolstered by an impressive supporting cast. From the confident and charismatic rebel leader, Fig, to the abrasive and trigger-happy Inspector Magnum and the hilariously misguided Bulb, the characters of Forgotton Anne add some much-needed levity to an otherwise solemn and emotional narrative.

The success of these characters is due, in large part, to Forgotton Anne's fantastic voice work. The game is fully voiced from start to finish, with a cast spanning talent from both the United States and the United Kingdom. Whether its Rachael Messer's emotional, heavy performance as Anne, or Jay Britton's light, humorous portrayal of the various Forgotlings who Anne encounters throughout her journey, the voice cast of Forgotton Anne elevates the story and keeps it interesting from start to finish.

Although Forgotton Anne is an indie title, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it as a larger-scale production, based solely on the quality of its presentation. The visuals feel plucked from the world of anime, with detailed character models and fluid animations. Meanwhile, the soundtrack, backed by tender strings and percussive brass, provides an expressive suite of whimsical and melancholic tracks. Paired with an already moving and heartfelt story, Forgotton Anne's audiovisuals help to ground the player in the world of Anne and the Forgotlings.

While Forgotton Anne's story is an engaging tale of forgiveness and redemption, the actual gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. Billed as a cross between a platformer and a puzzle game, Forgotton Anne doesn't do nearly enough in either category to help it stand out from the pack.

Platforming in Forgotton Anne is stiff, with a wonky physics engine that feels far too weighty to be satisfying. Movement is sluggish, while jumping feels imprecise and unwieldy. Furthermore, aside from a pair of wings that Anne receives at the outset, the player never gains additional tools or moves to enhance movement over the course of the game. While this wouldn't be much of an issue for games in which clever level design compensates for a lack of character progression, in Forgotton Anne, the platforming never really evolves past leaping from ledge A to ledge B.

The puzzles fare better, but not by much. The majority of Forgotton Anne's puzzles require the player to manipulate the Anima in the environment through the use of a tool on Anne's wrist called the Arca. At the tap of a button, Anne can fill her Arca with Anima, sucking the power out of a part of the room in the process. Anne can then deplete her Arca of its Anima to power up a different part of the room, often allowing her access to a newly powered switch or door that will help her progress.

In theory, the idea of pulling and restoring power from parts of the world seems like it would make for some compelling and crafty puzzles. Unfortunately, much like the platforming, the puzzles never really manage to capitalize on their potential; expect to manipulate the same switches, valves, and doors in hour seven that you manipulated back in hour two. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, but it feels like an unfortunate missed opportunity for a game that nailed its story and characters so well.

Despite its title, Forgotton Anne is far from forgettable. Its story is deep, its characters are nuanced, and its journey is emotional and powerful. Unfortunately, its stiff platforming and uninspired puzzles hold it back from being a must-play. For fans of adventure games, Forgotton Anne is a surprising gem that'll provide plenty of memorable moments over the course of its 7- to 8-hour run. For those looking for a more cohesive melding of story and gameplay, however, there are simply better options available.

Score: 7.9/10

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