Thursday, 20 December 2012

Anna - Review

Anna is a first person horror style adventure game which is very similar to point and click adventure games in that you need to search the environment for items and hints to what you need to do. It's created by Dreampainters and it's available on Steam. It focuses heavily on the exploration side of things.

The levels are quite small and focus on a lot of puzzles within these limited areas. It's a nice touch as you get to really explore an environment which makes it feel like a much deeper world rather than running through an environment so quickly you don't notice most of it. It's also nice to discover things you must have walked past many times and never noticed.

Unfortunately my view of the game get worse from here on in. Maybe it's not my type of game, or maybe years of mainstream run and gun games have reduced my patience so much that games like this lose their charm on me, but you should know I appreciate what this game tried to do, I just don't think it worked.

Some of the puzzles are, as far as I'm concerned, impossible to figure out with any kind of logic. It may work with the weird fantasy setting but I couldn't get my head around it. You could argue it comes with a guide and there's plenty of help online, but I don't think that can really be used in it's defence as if it's too difficult you have to use the guide for half of the puzzles (like I did) then it's less playing a game and more following instructions.

I found the inventory system to be awkward and unintuitive to use, which became a problem when you have certain areas of the game where you have to use one item after the other about 30 times in a row.

I'm now going to talk about the horror aspect. As horror is always better when you don't know what's happening I'm going to put up a spoiler warning and let you know when it's over, so here goes.

***Spoiler Warning***

The horror works well, and is done well for saying there is no real enemy there to be scared of. The sound effects nicely set an atmosphere and hint at the story but after wandering around the environment for a while (and you will be) you notice the noises being repetitive and come to realise they are just ambient sounds that don't mean anything.

The few appearances of 'other beings' come quite rarely, which I like as it really made me jump when they happened. I recall one in particular which was some kind of bush with arms reaching out of it which then moved towards me quickly which made me jump, but as far as I could tell there wasn't any link to the main storyline and this disappointed me.

***End of Spoiler Warning***

A problem I found with the ending of the game, without any spoilers this time, is that there is multiple endings which I usually like but I felt absolutely no connection to the main character and didn't really follow the story until I get right to the very end of the good ending and by that point I had completely lost interest.

There is one more thing that you need to do to get the good ending which really got my back up, so I'm going to hit up another spoiler warning while I have a rant.

***Ranting Spoiler Warning***

To get the good ending you need to get to the end of the building you spend the whole time in. The game gives you a key, so I used it on the door that had remained locked while I was in there and the game suddenly ended after some text that I didn't really understand. I can accept this, even if it is a bit annoying as there is no auto-save feature and I hadn't saved in a while. That was my own fault.

It would have then been fine to say, if you had looked harder you would have discovered this and got the better ending for actually exploring the environment. But that's not the case.

The bit that annoyed me was that I checked the guide to look for the best ending, the guide stated that you had to hang around in the attic for some time before the room changed and new options became available. Apparently this scales depending on how long it took you to complete the rest of the game. I found it took around 10-15 minutes of doing nothing but waiting before it randomly revealed itself to me. If I'm incorrect about this fact feel free to correct me, but I did nothing special and all of a sudden it changed.

This really annoyed me as it was impossible to figure out, even with the guide I questioned the fact that I was doing the right thing.

***End of Overly Long Ranting Spoiler Warning***

Also the hands... the stretched hands. As an artist they pained me a little inside.

In conclusion I would recommend this game to people who like point and click adventures or need a break from shooters and are willing to spend some time searching corners. I wouldn't play it again and would think twice before buying their next game, but I do appreciate what they attempted with the game and wish them all the luck in the future.

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