The world of Forgotton Anne is a strange one. It’s made up entirely of Forgotlings; lost items that have fallen through from the Ether (better known as the human world). Master Bonku, who is the only human you will come across, is constructing an Ether Bridge to help those Forgotlings get back to their human owners, with the help of you – Anne the Enforcer. There are sidelined scarves, lost lamps and forgotten fridges, most with a hope of a return.
These are the continuous themes that run through the game. It’s a story of loss, a story of forgetting the past. It employs an art style similar to Studio Ghibli’s work. The cartoony animé style is quite pleasant, and it complements the narrative well.
You are met with a choice right at the start, for this is a game where the choices you make are brought with you. A rebel scarf breaks into your home, and you must decide: Do you distill it, or leave it be? Distilling is essentially murder; the soul is taken with the power of the Arca, sitting on Anne’s wrist. This Arca is powered by anima, which is sort of like the electricity of this forgotten land. Once you’ve made your verdict, a message will appear at the top of the screen, “This could have played out differently”. Similar to The Walking Dead’s “They will remember that”, except I didn’t find myself questioning what I had done after the fact.
There aren’t a vast amount of opportunities to cast judgement down onto Forgotlings, and it’s oftentimes just the dialogue choices you make that can affect what happens next. Instead of brutally soul-extracting everyone you come across, you can scare them into divulging information you need, by beginning the distillation but stopping just before their consciousness is completely extracted.
But, why would you need to distill the Forgotlings, you may ask? Well, as the sharp readers amongst you may have noticed, I pointed out earlier that only most want to go back to the human world and be reunited with their “families”. The rebel scarf is not a lone wolf: There is a large group of those unhappy with Master Bonku’s leadership, and his plans. What keeps you hooked is that it’s not just you, the player, learning as you go, but also Anne. She is a mystery herself: No past, no family, only memories with Master Bonku. I don’t want to reveal more of the story here than that, as I am at risk of spoiling the experience.
As you progress through, you’ll be handed some small puzzles to solve, including combination locks on doors, flicking the right switches, or the best one of all: Where the heck do I go now? The latter can be particularly infuriating, as on more than one occasion I thought to myself “Is that what I’m supposed to do, or have I just fudged my way through?” Scaling objects can be irritating, particularly as there are only so many animated movements available due to the nature of the art style. Thankfully, Anne is equipped with wings, so you’re not constantly fighting trying to manoeuvre small ledges.
Dialogue is everything in these stories, and for the most part it is performed very well. There are a couple of characters who I wished could have shown a little more emotion, which perhaps goes for Anne more than anyone else. Not Fig, the rebel leader though. He is brilliantly charismatic and possibly the best character in the story. At times it’s almost like Anne’s lines were recorded separately, occasionally bouncing around from crying to pure anger to crying again. You can’t skip any of it, either, so if you’ve gone back to hunt for collectibles – in the form of mementos scattered around – you’ll have to sit through the same cutscenes again.
But these are really only minor annoyances in an otherwise well-paced, thought provoking adventure. It really could have been a film, but there’s not really many other ways for me to put it than to say: Play this game.
Forgotton Anne (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
The story won’t shock and disturb you as much as Game of Thrones might, but it’s a story anyone can engage with. It’ll even have you reeling in genuine grief when you’ve distilled an old sock.