2D cinematic adventure games need no introduction. We’ve seen a growing surge of these sorts being dished out at a rapid rate with no signs of slowing down. Not too unlike the platforming genre, it takes something truly special to stand out in the crowd, something ThroughLine Games’ Forgotton Anne manages to achieve right from its interesting and intriguing premise. The game throws players into the role of the titular Anne, set within the confines of The Forgotten Lands; a place where everything that is lost and forgotten, goes.
The Forgotten Lands is a magical world that’s inhabited by creatures known as Forgotlings, beings that are composed of lost possessions, yearning to be remembered once again. Did you ever lose a sock? Misplace your car keys? Leave something on a train, never to retrieve it again? Well, those items in this world will have been sent to The Forgotten Lands, bestowed with magic and now live as animate objects. Anne, the enforcer of said world, finds herself tangled up in a war of determination.
You see, Anne, alongside her leader Master Bonku, are working to create the Ether Bridge, a bridge that will allow every Forgotling to travel back to the real world to reunite with their former owners, let alone Anne and Master Bonku. The story starts late at night and sees a large set of explosions awakening Anne – disruption that’s undoubtedly been caused at the hands of the rebels. Anne’s investigation leads her to Dilly, a red scarf donning glasses that’s seemingly aligned himself with the rebel Forgotlings.
Using the power of her Arca Glove – a tool that can channel and utilize the world’s magic – Anne is faced with the decision on whether or not to pull Dilly’s life from him, thus returning him to an inanimate object. What follows on from here is a wonderfully crafted, emotional journey, that never looses its grip on its audience. I wont spoil any story beats here for you, but what I will say is that Forgotton Anne’s plot is one that’s surprisingly unpredictable, constantly shaking up the fields of play in the process.
Forgotton Anne’s platforming and puzzle mechanics blend together well. Players will journey to and through a range of interesting locations, with platforming’s trademark foundation oozing through religiously. This amounts to traversal, climbing, clearing large drops and paying close attention to your surroundings. It helps, of course, that the world within is so well realized, making even the simplest of sections a general treat to behold. Throw in a chunk of interesting puzzles and it’s hard not to appreciate ThroughLine Games’ effort.
The aforementioned magic, known as Anima, is what powers The Forgotten Lands. Anne can harness this by using her Arca Glove, which in-turn enables her to manipulate and utilize switches, doors, machinery, systems and a set of wings to allow for some interesting treks. This collectively makes up the bulk of Forgotton Anne, a deathless adventure that’s every bit as exciting as it is captivating. I was quite fond of the pacing in particular, being rewarded with new elements to tackle each and every step (or jump) of the way.
Forgotton Anne may sound intricate on paper, but the game alleviates this by serving up well struck difficulty and learning curves. The game starts off fairly simplistic, but then slowly and steadily takes it up a few notches to keep players on their toes. Players will initially be rearranging energy pipelines before being tasked with more demanding challenges. Once again, there’s no denying whatsoever that the pacing here is remarkable, something many of Forgotton Anne’s peers fail to adhere to.
Forgotton Anne’s charming story never gets lost in this balance or translation. The game plays at its best when you’re darting from platform to platform (or high-jumping with your wings), solving and connecting power sources in sequence to achieve the desired result. The end result is one that relays such a carefully developed adventure from its beginning, to its conclusion. Perhaps Forgotton Anne’s most boldest achievement is that every platform or puzzle you clear, feels very much rewarding throughout.
Tying all of this together is Forgotton Anne’s beautiful art direction, which isn’t too dissimilar to the 1986 anime, Castle in the Sky. The design, the animations, the varying locales and each and every character model remains engaging and colorful throughout, despite its dark theme. This unique overall design helps to relay and maintain the magic and splendor throughout the entirety of the eight hour campaign, held together firmly by some excellent audio too. It truly is a breathtaking and very ambitious journey.
Anne’s character growth also deserves a special mention, given that she’s not very likable at first, but soon has you warming up to her. The underlining themes within, such as oppression and revolution, do pop up quite strongly from time to time, but this helps to solidify the overarching plot to magnificent degrees. The dialogue is also well written and although it does slip to boredom-ville occasionally, it’s easy to overlook when we take the length of the adventure into account.
Forgotton Anne houses a gorgeously fitting art direction that’s not too dissimilar to Laputa: Castle in the Sky. This design sits extraordinarily well with its carefully crafted platforming and puzzle elements, collectively putting forward a wonderful adventure that never loses its grip. The dialogue may well be hit and miss at times, but the overarching plot is captivating, well paced and thoroughly entertaining.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.