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Forgotten Anne Review (Xbox One)

Forgotten Anne is the sort of game that grabs you from the get-go. A strongly narrative-driven puzzle platformer, this is a game that will almost certainly be remembered for its art direction. The game’s animation, reminiscent of Studio Ghibli, is absolutely stunning and will likely be most gamers number one draw to the title. Still, good looks only go so far. Is Forgotten Anne a title with enough substance to earn your purchase, or is it best left forgotten?

The story is a central focus of this title. You play as the eponymous Anne, a human in a world of forgotten items. Those flip flops you just can’t seem to find? Well, they apparently become “Forgotlings” – living, thinking, and working items in a lost dimension. Think of all the transformed servants in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast if they lived in a slightly steampunk city and you get the idea. These normally inanimate objects are brought to life by a force called anima, a force which Anne, as an enforcer, can manipulate in a number of ways. Anne’s backstory starts as a bit of a mystery – we know she works for Master Bonku, and that’s about it. Bonku is attempting to create a bridge back to the land of the remembered… but, as the game begins, some Forgotling rebels are out to make sure that doesn’t happen. Since story is such big part of this game, I would be remiss in spoiling much more for you, but rest assured that it is a charming and rewarding journey.

So, here’s something I didn’t initially notice when playing Forgotten Anne: Anne doesn’t have a health bar. That’s right, it’s a platformer where you don’t ever really face any direct peril. That’s not to say that game has no challenge, though. Anne has a set of mechanical wings that aid her in a variety of platforming challenges. It’s mostly light platforming that reminds me of the slower sections of cinematic platformers such as the classic Prince of Persia titles so don’t expect too many quick twitch experiences. There are also many puzzles that must be solved along the way. As I mentioned earlier Anne is an enforcer and can therefore use anima to power a variety of machines from her world. This is the key to solving many of the world’s puzzles, some of which make you think but none of which will leave you scratching your head for too long.

Anima has to come from somewhere, though, and it comes from the life force of existing Forgotlings. That’s right, Anne distills and absorbs all of those cute talking shoes and scarves. It’s not a choice to be taken lightly, and making the choice to destroy a specific object can have ramification later on in the game. Remember, this is a story-driven game, so a large portion of your time is spent exploring this world and talking to the various NPCs as you work to unravel the ongoing mysteries of the dimension you find yourself in. Because of this, your decisions absolutely matter.

It’s hard to talk about this game without talking about how excellent the presentation is. The animation looks smooth, perhaps too smooth for precise platforming at times, and moving Anne through the 2.5 D world makes you feel like you are watching a side-scrolling anime. The music perfectly matches the atmosphere as well. I actually downloaded the (fully orchestrated) soundtrack after I played the game because I enjoyed it so much. Much like the game itself, it’s sweet and beautiful and just a bit melancholy. The voice acting can be a little hit or miss, but Anne sounds appropriately headstrong and plucky and most of the Forgotlings had interesting enough voices. The Forgotlings really were charming creatures that made the world of Forgotten Anne feel that much more real.

Forgotten Anne is a great experience. The puzzling and platforming is standard fare, but the package it is wrapped in makes the game a joy to play. It’s honestly a game I can recommend based on a trailer… if you see the trailer and think it might be for you, it probably is.