Back in September 2016, Square Enix Collective announced that it would be publishing a 2D adventure title by Throughline Games called Forgotton Anne. During PAX 2017, we had the opportunity to play a short segment to the beginning of this game. From that short experience, it’s safe to say that this is a title that should be on the radar of any adventure game fan.
Forgotton Anne tells a tale set in the Forgotton Realm, the place to where all things (toys, socks, letters, etc.) go when they are forgotten in the human world. Somehow a young woman named Anne and her master Bonku have become stuck in this world and, when we find them, they have already established themselves as the enforcers of it.
Anne and Bonku still strive to return to the human world as does everything else that has been stranded here. The Forgotton Realm’s Forgotlings are sentient creatures made up of lost and forgotten things that have been energized by a mysterious element called Anima. Anne possesses a device called the Arca, which can remove the Anima from one of these objects, rendering it lifeless.
Anne is well-known as the Enforcer of this world and as such many of its inhabitants fear her. But it seems that some have also developed stronger feelings about the relationship dynamic. Anne and Bonku have become the ire of a Forgotling rebellion. As such, a major point of the game’s plot is that their attempts to escape the Forgotton Realm are being thwarted.
At an early point in the game, an animated scarf flies into Anne’s house and she must frantically interrogate it to determine its intentions. This is when one of the first choices in Forgotton Anne becomes available. Through a minimal dialogue tree of up to two options at a time, you must decide the fate of this creature. The Forgotling seems frightened, but it could also seem to be acting suspicious. Is it here to help Anne with valuable information or is it a spy from the rebellion?
After first accusing the scarf of lying, the dialogue continued and I was offered the option of pressing it for more information or continuing to accuse it of lying. The scarf’s story didn’t feel quite right, so I went with the latter and dialogue ceased. I was at that point prompted to “distill” the scarf.
I will admit that at first this surprised me. I wasn’t expecting such a moral quandary so early in the game. I also wasn’t expecting it to be reached purely through dialogue. I was completely unaware that I had made the choice to remove the scarf’s Anima, and I almost immediately regretted it. Unfortunately, at that point the demo would not allow any other action but to use the Arca device and to take the scarf’s life.
At first, I was disappointed that the ultimate decision to take a life was not clearly labeled before I was locked into committing the final blow. I’ve become so used to almost being pestered five times with “Are you sure?” before making a critical video game choice that it almost feels rude when it’s absent. I can now appreciate that Forgotten Anne doesn’t waste time with handholding in these situations. I made Anne question the veracity of this home-invader’s story twice in a row. It’s my fault if I didn’t see that outcome well on its way.
Throughout Forgotton Anne, the player will be faced with choices similar to the one with the scarf that will significantly shape the story. However, as important as story is here, there are many more factors at work that make this title stand out.
For me, the single most arresting element in Forgotton Anne is the art. Every moment of this game has been crafted with hand-drawn scenes that regularly feel cinematic even when gameplay is still in action. As a puzzle-platformer, Anne must regularly climb, jump, and interact with objects, and her animation flows impeccably while she does it. It should come as no surprise that development team considers Studio Ghibli’s film work to be inspiration for Forgotton Anne‘s art style, but it’s clear that Throughline is in a league of its own with this artistic accomplishment.
There’s a lot to look forward to as Forgotton Anne nears its 2017 release window: a unique setting, intriguing characters and plot, an eye-candy art style, and puzzle-platforming elements that were only suggested in my 20-minute demo. With a soundtrack by Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra to accompany all of this, we can be sure that Forgotton Anne will be a cinematic adventure game we won’t soon forget.