Anna Review – Fear Nothing (PS3)
It’s not often a game throws you into the fray with little to no direction or back story on what to do. Anna Extended Edition for the PlayStation 3 is one of those games. Originally released on PC a couple years ago, developer Dreamplanters and publisher Kalypso Media Digital issued an upgrade to their original horror adventure game adding in more events and other mechanics worthy of the amended name.
To the Woods
Anna sets itself in an abandoned location high in the Italian mountains, drawing upon puzzles and twisted imagery that’s somehow related to the player character’s past. The game also focuses in on a sanity mechanic which involves your behaviors and how they impact your mental health which leads to different outcomes depending on your actions. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done in video games before but Anna does take it a bit further with its possible eight endings dependent on the path you do or don’t take.
With little exposition, Anna throws players right into the story as a man who has lost his memory. It’s only through exploring the surroundings and completing puzzles and initiating dialogue do you discover your purpose for being so far from civilization — including a hidden discovery about the main character’s past.
You Can’t Kill Me
While the intent is there, Anna’s story isn’t anything particularly special. As a horror game it relies a lot on the genre’s usual tropes — although the sense of mystery itself is still interesting. The imagery itself isn’t all that scary though the game does through a few scares out here and there to try and grab the viewer. The problem with this though is you really can’t be hurt so it takes away any sense of immediate fear. Anna is boosted by its multiple endings, which trigger depending on the player’s actions and how much your discover over the course of your playthrough.
Anna’s gameplay is fairly simple — although much of it is burdened by its clunky controls and unnecessary menu systems. In particular the inventory system comes off as a convoluted mess, better suited for its PC origins but also very hard to organize.
These Puzzles are Ruining My Immersion
Exploration and puzzles make up the bulk of playtime here, with the latter suffering much of the time from poor design decisions. It’s unfortunate because games like Anna are supposed to thrive on them while instead we’re left with nothing but frustration and questions of “why?” Why am I running around aimlessly? Why am I frustrated with this puzzle? Why am I not having fun? Those are just a few things you’ll probably ask yourself while playing Anna.
It’s a Basic Port
On the technical front, Anna isn’t pushing any boundaries. Its visuals are fairly basic, but they get the job done when it comes to presenting the game’s atmosphere and surroundings. The biggest downside to the PS3 port is the poor loading which often makes the already frustrating experience that much more unbearable. There really is nothing they’ve done to make the game set itself apart from the original PC version — it’s just that, a port.
But if you’re looking for something unique, Anna might be your kind of game. It does a few interesting things with its multiple endings and sanity systems and the atmosphere is convincing enough in what it does well. It’s just a shame the bulk of the gameplay — the puzzles and controls– are just so darn poor. If you’re willing to look past those issues then maybe wait for a sale. $15 is a bit much for what they’re offering here.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.