Anna is a psychological horror video game. The plot is really vague and a bit hard to follow but you start off in what appears to be a dream. Now being a horror game, you would expect a creepy atmosphere to begin with but this game actually starts off the opposite way. After a small intro by the main character, who is in search of Anna, you start off outside an old looking house but the environment around the house is beautiful. Grass is lush green, the small creek is next to the house is crystal clear, and the sky is blue. This type of environment does nothing to scare the player and actually seems odd compared to the tone of most horror games.
It’s only after walking into the house that you see the first real signs of the horror aspect of this game. What really stands out is that despite the creepy interior of the house, the music does not fit at all. Instead of your typical Silent Hill-esque track, there is really mellow music. Somehow this makes the game more unsettling than if there was generic horror music. Another thing to add is that the developers of this game really found a way to make the player feel uncomfortable without using jump scares (I only recall coming across one) but by instead setting an uncomfortable ambience. The appropriate way to describe this game would be creepy, not scary and that’s not a bad thing at all. Another thing to point out is that there’s no real enemies or monsters chasing after you. It’s not like Amnesia or Outlast where you occasionally run into an enemy and hide. In Anna, you might be exploring a room and all of a sudden the room will change and often times get creepier. Between weird symbols, wooden mannequins, and a few ambient noises, Anna creates a very unique horror game atmosphere (with some pretty good graphics) that’s terrifying to navigate through.
I wish I could say this game had the potential to give games like Silent Hill or even Amnesia a run for their money but it falls short in a couple of areas. The gameplay is puzzle based and actually reminded of games like 999. The main problem that this game had was the fact that instructions to progress where extremely vague. Throughout the entirety of the game, your character picks up several books that the player would then have to read. Often times reading things like this is optional but in this case they are sometimes essential to try and figure out how to move forward. The worst part about this is that the texts found in the books are not exactly brief. The next part of the gameplay that bothered me had to do with your inventory. Like most puzzle games, you are required to pick up certain tools to solve the puzzles in each room. Early on you are completely swamped with items that have no clear use. Often times throughout, I found myself trying out every single item blindly on random objects hoping to see if they somehow fit together. To top things off, there were several items that were never used (at least in my play through) and there was even an instance where if I hadn’t done something in the very beginning of the game I would’ve been set back a bit having to go back and forth from one room to another.
The second part of where this game falls short is the story. Keeping up with the plot in the game is extremely confusing, it often seems like there’s 2 or 3 story lines going on at the same time. Even after beating the game, it’s not clear who the main character is or even the history behind the house that you are in. Furthermore, it is never really specified during what time period this is taking place. First guess for anyone would probably be modern day (seeing as how one of the items in your initial inventory is a phone) but what happens in the story would probably point to an earlier time period.
Anna is an interesting game and vastly different from other horror games that I’ve played. The story, after doing some research, is actually quite interesting but extremely convoluted. The solving puzzles is frustratingly (and unnecessarily) hard and the instructions to go forward are almost non existent unless you turn on the help key and even then the clues are a bit cryptic. Anna shines giving an extremely unsettling atmosphere and it genuinely made me want to stop moving forward or going back into certain rooms, something that doesn’t happen too often (or often enough) when I play this type of game. The game itself is actually quite short IF you know what you’re doing. I look forward to seeing what Dreampainters, the developer, has in store for their next game. Hopefully they’ll be able to learn from their mistakes and make an even better game.
TL;DR: Decent horror game with a unique atmosphere. Major drawbacks with gameplay and story might not make it too enjoyable.
Rockit Raccoon Rating: 5/10