Night after night, you dream of her. Anna. But... they're not dreams, they're nightmares. And now, you find yourself staring at the very house you see each night in your sleep. This isn't a dream, but it isn't quite real, either. Welcome to the haunting world of Anna, a first person horror adventure game by Dreampainters that will leave you too frightened to turn your back on a dark corner for the rest of the night.
Anna plays out from a typical first person perspective, allowing you to freely move and look about each area. To interact with or examine things, simply click when the cursor changes to a small target. If the cursor switches to a hand, hold the right mouse button and drag to manipulate the object you've just taken hold of. The inventory can be accessed by a middle click on your mouse, and from there you can combine items, examine them, or grab them to assist you in solving a puzzle or two.
Things move at a slow sort of pace in Anna, presenting you with a handful of things to examine at once while challenging you to not only be observant, but to be curious, too. Take a closer look at everything you see, try to pick up objects even if they don't seem so portable. You never know when a short scene will be triggered or what effect your actions will have on the broken, frightening world around you.
Analysis: Anna isn't the sort of game that flings zombies at you from behind barred doors or splashes screaming faces on the screen when you're focusing on a puzzle. This is a much more subtle and insidious type of horror game, the kind that can really get under your skin and haunt you deep inside. The story and setting lay the groundwork for the spookiness, putting you in a world that isn't quite real and gets even less real as it progresses. And as you discover more of the story behind this house you're in, you start to feel like you're in a very unsafe place. But you can't get out, you can only go forwards. Yipe.
What Anna gets oh so right in terms of atmosphere and puzzle design, it tends to skip over some of the more invisible aspects, namely the interface. While moving around is smooth enough, any time you want to use an inventory item or interact with a piece of scenery, it feels as if you have to click more than you shouls. No keyboard shortcuts to be found, just slow mouse menus that many similar games have replaced with button combinations. It's an awkward barrier when you first start the game, and even a little ways in you'll find it somewhat frustrating. But eventually it all sinks in, slowing down your pace and actually adding to the deliberate, haunting nature of the game.
One of the more curious aspects of Anna is that it features three possible endings, each depending upon how mad your character is at the end of the game. In other words, the more paranoid and frightened you get, the less appealing your ending may be. This means you'll probably want to play through the game multiple times to get the different endings, bumping up the total play time to around six hours or so.
An incredibly chilling game with a story and setting to match, Anna is a superb indie horror game that's best played with the lights on. And friendly people in the house to watch your back.
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