At last year’s EGX, I met up with Ingvi Snaedal, executive producer at Throughline Games. This was the first time I’d encountered Forgotton Anne (with an intentional mis-spelling). It called out to me with fantastic art design in the style of Studio Ghibli and a colourful world. An intriguing interview followed that discussed the work Throughline Games have put into Forgotton Anne’s animation. At this year’s EGX we got a chance to play it.
The Forgotton Lands Are Both Charming And Ominous
We play Anne who has assumed the role of steward in the Forgotton Lands. Her sole human companion, Master Bonku is working tirelessly to restore the Ether Bridge and return them both back to the real world. For now, the game begins with a cutscene as Anne is shaken awake by a distant explosion. As we explore the Forgotton Lands, we are loosely guided through a seamless cinematic experience. I sat staring at the screen for a while, as Anne looked out the window, waiting for something to happen. But that was it! Gameplay had begun. There is no jarring change in visual presentation between cutscenes and gameplay. This is nothing new in video games. However, in the hand animated world of Forgotton Anne, this feature is pleasantly surprising.
What follows is a serious of light puzzle elements as Anne harnesses Anima energy to restore power to the area, allowing a conversation with Master Bonku himself. This is where we learn the of the adept script writing used to voice our two lonely humans and their surrounding Forgotlings. As Anne conversed with what would normally be inanimate objects in the real world, I found myself sniggering at the quirky things they had to say. While the inhabitants of this land may give it a quirky and lighthearted feel, Ingvi has already informed us in the past that Forgotton Anne will take on darker themes as the game progresses. We don’t think it will take long to kick in. It wasn’t long before I had the option to remove the Anima from an escaping Forgotling… Essentially draining it of its life. The outcome of this choice, the game tells us, will have ramifications later on.
Forgotton Anne’s Level Of Hand Drawn Detail Will Immerse You
Artistically, Forgotton Anne is vibrant. A strong colour palette helps to realise the Forgotton Lands in an engrossing way. Suffice it to say, aside from a friend and Ingvi himself joking that I took too long to figure one incredibly simple puzzle out; I was sucked in. Forgotton Anne is not a fast paced action packed game. But it will draw you in nonetheless.
Last year, we learned from Ingvi that the Forgotton Lands are designed like a giant poster with various layers. What I learned this time around is that Anne comes into the possession of “wings”. These are essentially jump extenders both upwards and left and right after a sprint. Navigation up, down or into a deeper perspective essentially controls like Abe from Abe’s Oddysee. Hold up under a ledge to grab it. Or hold down, followed by circle to drop down safely.
Forgotton Anne Pays Attention To Details Other 2D Sidescrollers Do Not
What impressed me was a continuation of attention to animation details in real time. As per Throughline Games’ blog, Anne is animated accurately as she moves up and down stairs. Which is great as we’ve seen no end of 2D sidescrollers not bother with this kind of animation when not dealing with 3D models. Yet added effort can be appreciated when Anne reacts in certain ways as we play through her experiences. She may struggle, raising an arm in a windy environment for example. Again, this is all well and good with 3D cinematic titles like Hellblade. But with Forgotton Anne, a degree of effort has gone into a similar attention to detail where other 2D titles have not bothered. This is a big part of what will make Forgotton Anne stand out.
As I experienced my brief foray into the Forgotton Lands, I felt a sense of nostalgia. It is the kind of game that doesn’t need to fall back on explosions (although to play it safe, I suppose it was a good idea to start with one). It doesn’t need to overly empoower the player to keep them hooked, like the many shooters of today. Forgotton Anne is more of a throwback to beloved games like Monkey Island or Simon The Sorcerer. Anybody who has played these titles will tell you what kept them playing was great world design, fun to hear script writing and a truly memorable experience. Forgotton Anne is not lacking for any of these elements. So if 2D artistry is your thing, or perhaps original storytelling, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for this one on release. Speaking of which, I pressed Ingvi on the matter.
Throughline Games are still unclear on a release date. What Ingvi was able to tell me is the team’s intention to get Forgotton Anne ready for sale before the end of the year. At the very worst, we’ll be exploring the Forgotton Lands early next year. It was a pleasure to see Ingvi again at this year’s EGX and we wish the whole team at Throughline Games every success on release day and beyond! Until that time, check out the latest trailer for Forgotton Anne