I loved this game.
I am a fan of Studio Ghibli movies, and this was reminiscent of so
many of the best of them. It's an animation with heart and soul, where
the story sings and the characters shine. It has a depth that belies its
2.5D dimension, and while it isn't perfect, what is?
Anne is the Enforcer in a world of all manner of forgotten things –
Forgotlings - imbued with life and making their way in this new realm.
Boots, lava lamps, manikins and even firearms, pretty much anything can
be forgotten. Many want to find their way back across the promised Ether
Bridge, perhaps to once again be on the foot of their owner and feel the
joy of hiking, others though not so much.
The only other human in the world is Master Bonku, the overlord of
the realm. It is he who is responsible for delivering the bridge. He
converses with Anne through large mirrors, taking orders and maintaining
order, the latter an immediate priority as a result of some rebel raids
across the town.
Not too much later, you get to feel the power of your Arca glove. It
can draw and dispense anima (energy), a key element of the puzzling, but
can also drain the life force from any Forgotling. When a rebel breaks
into her home, how to wield the glove is one of the first moral choices
of Anne's adventure.
The plot is familiar at times, and not at others. Where there are
rebels and overlords, there is often someone in the middle. Anne's
journey is about much more than her job description.
Anne is marvellous, and more than that she is real. All the things
that make her so are present - big things like the realisations she
confronts, middling things like whether to take or give credit, and
little things like smoothing her dress or fixing her hair after some
exertion. Any Ghibli heroine would be proud to call Anne a sister.
The numerous other characters, with a plethora of personalities, play
their respective parts well. Some are better than others, some are
better voiced than others, and you will probably differ from me in your
views on each. All though contribute a little something, and none let
the proceedings down.
The musical score involves a symphony orchestra and does what you
would want it to do, helping pull heart strings here, quicken the pulse
there. Ambient and environmental sound is also well done. An example in
point - the slight echo I heard when Anne was talking inside a boxcar
was just out of reach but not quite. Play it using headphones for
And then there are the visuals. It looks superb, generally muted in
tones but in no way diminished as a result. A touch of cyberpunk, a dash
of 19th century London or Boston, at times intimate and at other times
expansive. You will explore single rooms and run across rooftops,
descend into basements and then clamber up tall buildings. It encourages
you to explore, not just move on in the game.
Apologies if it seems I am gushing, but I am going to do it some
Despite its essentially up, down, left and right nature, the 2.5D
graphics work a treat to provide a 3D depth to the world. I won't do
this justice but will try.
Across the city you can see that there are streets and buildings in
the background as Anne explores left and right. To get there, Anne might
be facing away from you and walk up a staircase, the result of which is
that it pulls those streets and buildings into the foreground, which
Anne then explores. It conveys a sense of walking away from you, a sense
that is heightened by the perspective zooming in or pulling back as Anne
Even within the same plane, the camera perspective is important. It
might pull down and zoom in as Anne moves into a sewer, or pan up and
pull out as she climbs a building, accentuating the nature of where she
has gone. It works a treat.
Most of the puzzling involves using your Arca glove to both take and
charge and reroute power to activate doors or other things. Right
clicking moved Anne into anima mode (or whatever it was called). She can
then "see" the various conduits and power sources, charge or
deplete a power source, and change the flow to achieve the outcome. Some
puzzles will be multi-faceted, in that you need power on in one place to
open a door, but you need power on somewhere else to reach the door. How
to do that when you only have one power source is part of the conundrum.
Power canisters are also visible in the "real" world, and
you need anima to use the wings you will find early on. I haven't yet
mentioned this is a platforming game, so here goes.
This is a platforming game, generally gentle, sometimes not, but
By that I mean you run, you jump, you leap and you climb. Using your
wings you can do all that to a greater degree. Timing is critical now
and then, and the window of opportunity to complete some sequences is
I know this will be anathema to many adventure game players. Which is
a shame, because this has all of those things we like in adventure
games. If it helps, Anne never dies, she just dusts herself off and
tries again. But I accept this aspect will deter some players.
(Time out – my good friend Winx, who I didn't know until she told
me about this game, doesn't usually play these games either but liked
this a lot. I have also more than favourably reviewed a few of these
types of games (e.g. Candle, Limbo and Inside) which isn't me on a
crusade for platforming, rather just recognising there are great
adventuring games outside the "normal" bounds of the genre. I
would say though that if you are tempted to try any of them, try this
– time on)
Throughout the game you have choices to make, both in conversations
and deeds, which will result in some scenes being different and some
characters being or not being present later on. It also seemingly
produces one of four "pronouncements" as to your actions (I
got Caretaker). Those decisions though don't seem to make a difference
to the choice you have to make at the end, which will determine the
fates of many. Make sure you experience both.
You may not laugh, you may not cry, but I suspect you will be moved
throughout, and especially at the end. You will likely ponder what one
ending means. We can discuss that elsewhere.
There are some other puzzle elements apart from those mentioned
earlier, including some rather good locked door puzzles. Interestingly,
you don't have to solve them all to advance. I was dealing with one
mid-game, and decided to take a break and explore, and then couldn't go
back to complete it. It didn't matter in that I finished the game, but I
wonder what might have been different.
When you finish, the Ether Bridge is open to you, which enables you
to re-enter the game at various points and do things differently should
you want to. Or you can just start again. The game saves automatically
and utilises the keyboard and mouse. A diary keeps track of goings-on,
as well as mementoes found. Steam achievements occur.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz