I didn’t know what to expect from Anna. I think I’ve only heard of the game once and I never played it, nor watched it. It starts out next to a decrepit house in a beautiful location, with a clear water brook and trees and sunlight… and me scratching my head. It took me a while to even find out how to get into the mill, let alone find the various thingamabobs I was supposed to use to activate the random mechanism that kept me from bashing the door in.
I’m going to say that there’s mild spoilers beyond this point, so if you’d like to experience this game yourself, skip until the end.
See, Anna is a point and click adventure game from a first person perspective. A lot like Amnesia, if you’ve read the review from Implayed (Episode 13). Not only because it controls in much the same way, with even the same object manipulation mechanic to it, but because it gets creepy quickly. It doesn’t start as hard as Amnesia does, but it does hit you with a sledgehammer if you don’t expect it, mainly because of the contrast from the beautiful dream-like start. It’s actually very much a horror game, with horrific imagery, darkness, and a lot of “weeping angels from Dr. Who” mannequins that won’t leave you alone.
If there’s one word that would describe Anna perfectly, it would certainly be creepy. Everything feels a bit off, and the game’s slight clumsiness in controls kinda adds to that somehow. You can’t move when you’re manipulating an object, opening your inventory and scrolling through it feels stiff, you can’t close it unless you press on I again, some things you do doesn’t seem to have any reaction, and you have to figure it out for yourself why, there’s a bit of bad English every here and there… but that’s just my game tester self speaking. What the real game player in me is doing is mostly just scratching his head.
Like many point and click adventures back in the day (the 80s and 90s mostly), Anna is not the particularly easy kind. It’s not straightforward and clear what you’re supposed to do. As an example, you need to open the door to enter the mill. You find that the entrance button doesn’t work for some reason. You notice an eye socket over the door. You see something behind the glass there. You want to break it somehow, you find a pebble and use that. You can’t get the gear piece from the socket unless you find a stick, which you also have to use to break a wall behind small doors under the stairs. Then you need to use the lighter you start with to turn the dry branch inside the hole you made in order to see what you’re doing. In the meanwhile, you may find a dirty thing in a pile of rocks. You need to wash the dirty thing in the brook, then tie the newly cleaned gear piece to the other one using string you found by cutting the rope that kept the little doors shut. Then you put the gear inside the mechanism and voila. You finally opened a mother-spelunking door. And this is the first damn puzzle of the game!
Congrats if you managed to go through that by yourself.
Anyway, I’m getting a bit long here, so I’ll cu this short. The game is creepy, the game is overly complicated, the game has a hidden story you may be interested in. The game is also oddly compelling despite being clumsy in its delivery.
It’s on Steam at 7 Euros. If you’re a fan of psychological horror games and need a fix to your need for Amnesia, this could be the game for you.