Developed by ThroughLine Games and released in 2018, Forgotton Anne (and no, that's not a misspelling) is instantly intriguing. You play as the eponymous Anne, a young woman working for a mysterious old man in a realm full of forgotten objects that have magically come to life. If you are a fan of mysteries or puzzle games, this is easily one of the best games on Android.
I won't spoil too much for you since this game revolves entirely around its story, but putting the pieces of this mini-mystery into place will take you through a unique and memorable world full of fascinating characters and lush environments. The game is initially free to play, but that's really just the demo. After making a bit of progress, you will eventually be asked to pay $7 if you want to continue. The good news is if you buy, there are no ads or in-app purchases.
Forgotton Anne's storytelling, artistic direction, and soundtrack are easily the top-selling points of this hidden gem. The game opens with an anime-style cutscene, guiding us through pockets of our own modern world. A bustling city, an empty shop, a man's apartment — each containing everyday objects that suddenly wink out of existence.
This entire cutscene, and every cutscene, for that matter, features gorgeous hand-drawn 2D animations that bring to mind the works of Studio Ghibli. However, the more impressive feat is that cutscenes transition smoothly into actual gameplay, maintaining that same level of artistic integrity from the backgrounds down to every NPC. This captivating setting is accompanied by composer Peter Due's stunning score, performed by the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, and is a major highlight of the game!
Further bolstering the gripping story is the incredible cast. With the talents of Jay Britton, Daniel Fague, and Rachael Messer as Anne, a mystery begins to unfold. Messer gives Anne a wonderful depth, evoking her doubts, anger, and compassion with finesse.
Like all of the other Forgotlings, Anne's ultimate goal is to try and find her way back to the human world. I'm a sucker for a good mystery, and Forgotton Anne had me hooked within minutes. You'll start to unravel these mysterious threads as you progress through the game using a mix of puzzles, platforming, and dialogue with other characters. I've always been a big fan of puzzle-platformers, and the environmental puzzles in Forgotton Anne are a refreshing change of pace from your standard mobile puzzle fare.
Using Anne's Arca glove, you can control the flow of "anima," the magical force that gives life in this world. As you try to get to the bottom of these rebel attacks, you'll direct the flow of anima through pipes and machinery, give anima to lifeless objects, or even take anima away from things you deem unworthy of animation, rendering them lifeless once more. I particularly liked this mechanic, which is what a good portion of the gameplay revolves around; building puzzles out through balancing your need for anima versus how much you can carry in your Arca at any time.
The environments themselves are a little bit of a puzzle in their own right. The hand-painted backgrounds sometimes make accessible areas hard to spot, so you need to make sure you're really taking in your surroundings if you don't want to miss anything.
While the puzzles themselves are fun and interesting, the platforming is, unfortunately, frustrating on mobile. The control scheme is surprisingly complex, and this often translates to wonky inputs. I struggled immensely with breaking into a sprint at the right times, which becomes increasingly annoying since sprint is required to be able to perform other moves, like the long jump. These issues may be resolved with an Android-compatible controller, but it makes for a bit of a slog that breaks the game's otherwise beautiful flow for those of us using touch controls.
I also ran into sections where the game's sound quality was severely affected, breaking up and stuttering almost constantly at certain parts. Using headphones did not solve this issue, which is especially tragic considering how much effort was put into the soundtrack.
The last problem I had is a little nit-picky, but it's worth mentioning that Forgotton Anne ate through my phone's battery like a monster. The shark from Jaws would have been proud. However, it's worth noting that I'm playing on a Samsung Galaxy S9, so if you have a more powerful phone, you may encounter fewer battery issues than I did.
Many Android games can be considered the best in their class, and Forgotton Anne has earned its right to be considered among them. At $6.99, the game may seem a little pricey compared to other cheap, or even free, mobile games, but the high production quality and artistry, all wrapped up in a genuinely interesting story, more than make up for the price tag. Plus, you can try a free demo before you buy, so you really have no excuse not to at least give it a shot!
Art in motion
Made for animation buffs
Forgotton Anne is a thoughtful, emotional narrative-driven game with a deeper mystery that will have you playing until the very end. With hand-painted backgrounds and beautifully rendered 2D animations, this indie gem deserves a look.
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A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.