July 5, 2012 7:00 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome
Italian indie game ensemble Dreampainters may just be onto something. Anna, their forthcoming horror adventure game, you see, is one of the rare point-and-click, puzzle-'em'-up offerings that attempt to actually scare the player and, hopefully, a game that will stand on the shoulders of such sub-genre giants as Scratches and Amnesia and manage to pull off something new and interesting.
Judging by the early version I had the chance to play with, hopes are high, as, despite a few interface hiccups, the game does actually deliver on both atmosphere and visuals.
Anna is a first-person point-and-clicker that doesn't restrict you to node-based movement; a choice that does allow for a certain sense of freedom and does help the lovely graphics shine, but makes for some infuriating object hunting that is rather reminiscent of the early 3D Tex Murphy games. Searching for a shoe somewhere among the (admittedly well-animated) grass can be most tiresome, but apparently worth it.
The game definitely knows how to pace things and make you work for your scares and this somehow makes it all the more satisfying. It is also very adept in making one feel uneasy and on the edge without actually showing anything particularly disturbing.
It took me, and that's the simplest of examples, over 30 minutes to actually manage to enter the white, apparently abandoned house (heh) outside which the game begins and less than 30 seconds to (figuratively) regret it the moment I crossed its door. The fact that said door had opened in an almost metaphysical yet puzzly way and that the house was brilliantly illuminated and showed signs of not being as abandoned as I had believed did the trick.
When a door banged I almost jumped.
Aesthetic and atmospheric achievements aside, Anna also comes with some interesting features including three different endings that will allegedly provide with three wholly different gameplay experiences and story-threads.
Anna will soon be made available for Windows PCs. A Mac version might eventually follow.