By: Robert Snow
New to Xbox Live Arcade from Kalypso Media, Anna: Extended Edition is a great, mind-bending puzzler that will have you spending hours searching everywhere for clues. You will need your thinking cap for this one because the crazy solutions are hard to find.
The controls are well mapped and allow the player to easily find items they’ve picked up for use in solving puzzles and progressing. All the items are mapped on a wheel brought up by the right trigger, though you may also use the d-pad to quickly browse through items without the wheel. You’ll need to press every button in order to orient themselves as the game does not give instructions on how to proceed.
When it comes to moving the character, it is a little delayed and unresponsive — and you might find yourself moving slower than expected as there is no indicator to let you know when you’re crouching. The flashlight lags behind the camera when moving around in the house, which can be quite annoying to say the least, and it’s quite difficult to place the aiming reticle on small objects because the right stick is touchy when moving the camera. In general, you’ll just end up pressing the “A” button repeatedly in order to find objects around the map.
The graphics are quite good for an XBLA title with very few screen tears and a decent frame rate. The opening setting outside of the house is quite beautiful, and the setting progressively gets worse as you play through the game giving the player a dynamic playground. The various features of the house that change are well designed. For example, the hands that come out of the ground are vividly creepy.
The many sounds played throughout the game set a scary tone in that they are clear, audible and impactful. These sounds bring life to the environment and make it feel like the house is alive. The music played also morphs throughout the game, setting different moods depending on where you are in the story.
Anna: Extended Edition begins by dropping you into a beautiful meadow next a house, and you must find out how to get inside. Most of the story or explanation of what is going on is in your journal, which can be used to aid in solving puzzles. Basically, you are a man trying to find a woman named Anna, who you keep inexplicably seeing in your dreams.
To progress you must find objects and clues around the environment that must be used through the house to discover the truth behind Anna. The game forces you to be creative in how they combine and use said items. That being said, some of the situations in which items are used do not make sense and are sort of farfetched. For example, a tree branch is used to break through some rock, which doesn’t really make sense.
Anna can definitely be considered difficult. You really need to pay attention to what is written in the journal and all the clues you find if you want any chance at advancing through the house. This game will give you a good 10 hours of gameplay, even more if you have trouble with puzzlers.
There is a substantial amount of reading to be done to understand what is going on in the story. There are multiple books throughout the house that provide clues as to what the player should do. The journal coincides with what the player is doing so it is wise to read it you’re having trouble figuring out what to do next.
The combination of graphics, sound and gameplay all work together in Anna: Extended Edition to create a chilling experience. Be prepared to use critical thinking if you want to conquer the challenge.