Anna (video game)
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|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3|
Narratively a psychological horror set in an abandoned sawmill nestled high in the Italian mountains, Anna challenges the player to uncover horrific clues and use them to solve puzzles related to the player character's dark past. The player's behavior determines the mental health of the main character to change locations and unveil new secrets leading to different endings.
A sequel, White Heaven, was announced in 2013. Development on the title resurfaced in 2016 with an announcement trailer and again in 2020 when it was announced that another sequel, Nascence, would be releasing first.
The story in Anna is significantly changed in the Extended Edition. The following applies to that version of the game.
Anna concerns an unnamed protagonist who, after a series of dreams centered around a sawmill nestled somewhere in the Italian mountains, finds an envelope containing photographs of him being in the Val D'Ayas Valley, a location he has no recollection of visiting. His mental state deteriorates as he hesitates to open the envelope, to the point where he collapses before giving a lecture. After leaving the hospital, a colleague accidentally forces him to open the envelope, where he realizes that the photos match the sawmill that’s been haunting his dreams. Remembering his devotion to a figure known only as Anna, he sets out to find the sawmill.
After arriving and finding himself locked out, he finds a mechanism hidden under a staircase and manages to unlock the front door. While inside, he discovers that the house is haunted by supernatural entities and is followed by a wooden statue of a crying woman. A backstory is revealed through documents found within the sawmill, puzzles, and observations made by the player: the eponymous Anna was a god worshiped long ago, signifying growth and nature. After a woman who is said to resemble Anna is burned alive after saving a man, Anna grows furious at men. Throughout generations, men find and fall madly in love with her, their devotion causing them to self-destruct. One of these men, a sabot maker, discovered the cult that surrounded her through research and, after realizing the house he shares with his brother is built on a long-lost temple, begins a ritual to summon her. His brother tries to steer him clear of his obsession but fails to do so before he ultimately succumbs to an unknown fate. Hundreds of years later, the protagonist rents the sawmill out from the sabot maker’s descendants, who forbid him and his family from entering the bottom portion of the house as part of the lease, implying their knowledge of the Sabot Maker's past. After discovering Anna and falling madly in love with her, he steals a statue made in her likeness from a church. His wife, fearing for her husband, smashes the statue. In a fit of rage, the protagonist murders her and his children. He is forced out of the house and has his memory wiped.
Depending on the player’s actions throughout the course of the game, the protagonist will either: leave the sawmill before or after being cursed by going too far in; be overcome by his dwindling sanity and find himself expelled from the house; be told to leave before entering the temple due to a lack of knowledge; or find himself trapped in a cave with the statue of Anna, glad that she is with him. If the player decides to follow in the footsteps of the sabot maker, the consciousness of the protagonist will be trapped in one of the many mannequins found within the sawmill, revealing that the sabot maker suffered a similar fate. A post-credits scene is unlocked if the player found every observation, uncovering a fresco of Anna next to the Zoroastrian spirit of destruction, Angra Mainyu previously hidden behind a locked cabinet.
Dreampainters, the development studio, based the story on legends from the Val D'Ayas region of Italy, particularly one about a sawmill where a lumberjack killed his family. They claimed that the game's focus was on mystery-solving and exploration, with the player being able to discover the plot at their own pace. One of Anna's particularly infamous features, the ability to pick up any object (no matter if it will be used later on in the game), was apparently based on the developers' hatred for adventure games and cartoons where the important objects were made more obvious to the viewer.
Anna would reportedly have a feature whereby the game would interpret the player's actions to try and scare them; for example, if a player focused on a particular object for too long, that object would appear more often. However, no such feature appeared in the game. Dreampainters also claimed that the extent of the protagonist's descent into madness would determine the ending, but the ending was actually determined by when the player decided to leave the sawmill.
PC (Extended Edition): 75/100
Anna received "Mixed or average reviews," according to Metacritic. The graphics, story and sound were praised, but it was criticized for the obscurity of its narrative, complexity of its interface, poor translation, and difficulty of its puzzles. The horror elements were both praised and criticized by different reviews; IGN's Anthony Gallegos initially praised the horror aspects but lamented that "most of the fear factor is neutered after you realize nothing can harm you." Destructoid's Holly Green praised the atmosphere, but claimed "the pre-release screenshots feel a bit misleading." VideoGamer's Lewis Denby liked the "genuine scares here and there," but felt similarly to Gallego about the lack of challenge. The puzzles met a far more divisive reaction. Denby thought that "Most of the puzzles don't make any sense," while Gallegos confided that many of the puzzles were "anger-inducing," describing them as "really just trial and error situations." Green noted that the lack of hints turned the puzzle-solving into "a game of pin the tail on the donkey," but noted that the interface helped reduce the frustration of pixel-hunting. Web-reviewer Yahtzee Croshaw praised the horror but claimed the immersion was broken by the necessity of a walkthrough. Both Green and Denby agreed that the quality of the translation was poor; Denby felt that the translation was "garbled." Green declared "the translation's biggest casualty is the narrative behind the protagonist's obsession with Anna." All three critics agreed that the User Interface was unpolished. Gallegos felt that it was "sub-par," and both Denby and Green found it to be an area of frustration.
- "Anna - PC - Game Highlights". IGN. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- "Anna's Mac version is out!". Blogspot. 9 November 2012. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "It-alien Isolation: Anna's Sequel White Heaven". Rock Paper Shotgun. 2016-03-28. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
- Conditt, Jessica (16 April 2013). "Anna - Extended Edition improves UI, horror based on player feedback". Joystiq. AOL. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- "Anna - Extended Edition". Steam. Valve. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- "Dreampainters Software announce WHITE HEAVEN, an horror adventure developed with Unreal Engine 4". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
- "White Heaven is the next horror from the devs behind Anna". Gamereactor. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
- "Nascence - Anna's Songs - FAQ". Dreampainters Software. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
- "Anna - Extended Edition Review". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
- "Anna for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- "Anna: Extended Edition for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
- Smith, Katie (30 July 2012). "Anna review". Adventure Gamers. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2021.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- Green, Holly (3 August 2012). "Review: Anna". Destructoid. Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
- Gallegos, Anthony (24 July 2012). "Anna Review". IGN. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- Denby, Lewis (24 July 2012). "Anna Review for PC". VideoGamer.com. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2021.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)