The game was made by Vince Twelve of xii games and although this version has been touched up, the game was originally made in one week - pretty astonishing.
Anna is unlike almost any other freeware game you'll play, no doubt about that. The only other one I can think of that had this sort of depth to its content was The White Chamber, so esteemed company indeed.
To give some idea of the story, you play the role of Hero, a technician on an early attack warning outpost placed in deep-space. The beginning of a new workshift seems just like any other for Hero as he converses with Anna, the station's intelligent computer system. Things take a turn for the worse however, and the actions of both Hero and Anna will impact on the fate, or should that be the destiny, of the planet they are there to protect.
Perhaps what makes Anna so intriguing and that extra little bit more impressive is that despite little information being given about the world outside of the one room setting of the game, the plight and personality of the characters is conveyed so well that the need for this information is negated and better left to the imagination (for now at least). There is a genuine connection with the characters which is rare in any game, let alone a short freeware one.
And it is the characters that are largely responsible for making the game so atmospheric. Their conversations are interesting, thought provoking, and above all, just incredibly natural.
The characters aren't solely responsible for creating the game's atmosphere though. Visually the style is simple yet more than effective and although the main character is generic looking with no defining features, this actually fits in with the philosophical tone of the story very nicely.
Furthermore the sound is of professional standard, with the sound effects realistic, and the music haunting.
The game starts off by giving the player the choice of either watching the full intro, or a lite alternative. I went for the full one (which takes about 15mins) and was treated to a conversation between Hero and Anna which was more than worthy of the time I invested in watching it. Despite the length of the cutscene, I at no point felt bored in any way.
Once this is over, the player takes control with no clear instructions on what to do to progress. This could easily cause frustration in some games, however here it seems to fit in perfectly with the whole atmosphere and story. Plus, all it takes is a little exploration and meddling and you're soon on your way.
So, what about the puzzles then??
Well the game doesn't contain many puzzles but those it does have are intuitive and great fun to solve. In particular the way the first puzzle was handled really showed great thinking by the developer. This puzzle could quite easily have become tiresome, but the way it doesn't have to be completely solved before the player can progress was a touch of genius in my opinion.
I guess if Anna has a down-side then it's the length of the game. It is short and probably won't require more than one sitting to complete. However, in spite of this it still provides the player with more to think about than the vast majority of longer games probably will.
This is a must play for anyone who likes their games to have a great deal of depth and atmosphere. The fantastic character development and interaction is a joy to see and contributes greatly to the immersiveness of the game. Add to that excellent sound and fun puzzles - really, what more could you want? Simply put, this game has a genuine touch of class about it and deserves to be played by a lot of people.
Particularly for fans of;
- The White Chamber
Download the game for free;