First person indie
horror rendered in 3D with the freedom to go anywhere and the promise of
an experience that reacts to the player’s behaviour and at half price
sounded too good to pass up. It wasn’t.
Unfortunately nothing lived up
to the expectations. The horror failed to materialise, instead being an
occasional creepy moment with no sense of tension or dread. I blame the
music in part, being often completely at odds with the apparent mood,
and I ended up turning it off. Which was a bit harsh on the music, but
it just didn’t gel with what I was seeing.
Which was the inside of an old
sawmill for the most part, one where strange imagery, shifting and
changing surroundings, and overheard voices endeavour to mirror what
appears to be Anna’s (or somebody’s) descent into madness. Or at least I
think so. The story never really got going, and then finished all too
abruptly. Its vagueness did, however, suit the “what is going on here”
nature of the experience.
Vague too were the puzzles, and
here the vagueness didn’t suit. Too often there was no sense of why you
were doing what you were doing, assuming you knew what that was.
Examining items might elicit a clue (“that string doesn’t look too hard
to cut”) but objectives were generally lacking. Trial and error and just
doing stuff seemed to be my stock in trade.
The hint system might help, but
it is an artificial way of providing direction. It is also clumsy and at
times not terribly useful. It operates kind of like your character’s
thoughts, and can be set at “simple” or “complete”, and can be set to
operate by using the “h” key or by the passing of a chosen amount of
I fiddled around with it and
found that the first setting tells you what you need to do, while the
second tells you more about how to do it. However it isn’t linked in any
way to what you might have done in the game – it referred early on to
something I hadn’t yet seen – and the “complete” setting told me there
were three things I needed, but once I had them in place it simply
repeated itself about what had already been done and gave no further
help with what came next. You might also get a hint like “nothing comes
to mind”, which to my mind is not at all hinty.
The fact that the system exists
and is customisable is to the developer’s credit, but some better
in-game direction would have been far more preferable.
I have no idea how the game
reacted to my behaviour, and would have to play it again to see what
might change. There are also three ways the game ends, and some
rummaging on the interweb will reveal them if you don’t want to discover
them yourself. They don’t all occur at “the end”, rather there are three
points in the game where the game can conclude depending on what you do.
You will find and use a variety
of items via a very fiddly inventory system. Be mindful too that some of
the hotspots to use the items are very small and very precise. On a
couple of occasions what I was trying to do was correct, I just wasn’t
doing it on the hotspot. The overly sensitive mouse didn’t help, even
when turned to its lowest setting.
While inventory management and
scene exploration is via the mouse, movement of the character is with
the keyboard. Left click brings up the activity menu (use, examine, pick
up) and is used to then select the preferred option. Accessing the
inventory is through the “I” key.
The right mouse button is used
in certain places to “hold” and then “move” the item in question, by
dragging the mouse to mimic the desired action (e.g. pulling open a
drawer or door). You can also crouch using the “c” key, which I think I
did once and even then didn’t really need to.
I usually turn subtitles off,
but left them on here as it helps to understand the voices you hear. The
hints and what you learn when you examine items are all read, not heard.
You don’t speak to anyone else in the game and, apart from those voices
and a variety of apparitions, there is nobody else.
The ambient sound was good. Anna
unfortunately wasn’t very.
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB
You can purchase Anna via download
The Zodiac Store or
The Adventure Shop.
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