Square Enix is a publisher best known for its renowned franchises like Final Fantasy
, Kingdom Hearts
, Tomb Raider
and Dragon Quest
. As such, many people wouldn't necessarily associate the firm with smaller indie titles, but the latter type of games are the type in which the Square Enix Collective specialises. It's a platform where developers submit their games and the Collective chooses the best of the bunch, which are then showcased to the public for 28 days to see whether they would support this project through crowdfunding, as well as leaving feedback about the title. The Collective then offers to support the projects through crowdfunding and then to publish the title.
Having recently published The Turing Test
on Xbox One and with several more titles in progress, the publishing team arrived at EGX to not only show off three of their previously announced titles, but also to announce Forgotton Anne
on the Playstation Access stage. We managed to get hands-on with all four of these titles. In part one, we cover two of their upcoming action adventure titles.
While this title was described as a "puzzle platformer with adventure game elements", Throughline Games' emphasis was in the wrong place. As Alfred, the game's Creative Director, stated on the reveal stage and as we can attest, the game is very much a story driven adventure title with puzzle and platforming elements. Set at the very beginning but without the benefit of the full introduction, we took control of the game's protagonist Anne as she awakens in the Forgotton Realm. The building's Anima supply has run dry once again and she needs to restore power as soon as possible.
We exit to the covered balcony to survey the area, only to find that the entire town is shrouded in darkness and the problem is much bigger than we thought. Upon re-entering the bedroom, we begin looking for a source of Anima. All interactive objects are highlighted as red speech bubbles but after looking at photos and pictures, it soon becomes clear that we won't find anything here. Downstairs we are more fortunate. Using Anne's Arca glove, we drain the power from the Anima cells and use it to power the building's pump.
Anne is immediately contacted by Master Bonku, with whom we have a conversation through a mirror. Throughout the conversation we are given options. These conversation choices have the chance to alter the story as it is told and to potentially alter the game's ending, so make sure that you choose carefully when you play. We are instructed to restore power to the Powergrounds, so off we go.
As we try to exit the building, we are nearly bowled over by a rather nervous red scarf. It's a Forgotling, one of the discarded everyday objects that has become animated in the Forgotton Realm. Is he a rebel or can he be trusted? As Anne is The Enforcer of the Forgotten Realm, we need to find out. Our conversation choices are important and we decide that his responses are too vague and unreliable. Using our Arca glove, we distill the Forgotling so that he returns to being an ordinary lifeless scarf and is no longer a threat. Once this scene has played out, the game informs us that this scene could have ended differently. Could the Forgotling have joined us on our travels and kept us warm? Or could we have believed him only for him to turn traitor and later strangle us as we slept? I guess that this is something that we will have to wait until another day to find out.
We leave the building and run down what seems like countless flights of steps on our way to the Watchtower. Eventually we find our way blocked by a rather inconveniently placed crate and it is here that we are introduced to the game's platforming mechanics. Using a combination of simple climbing and longer leaps, we pass our obstacles and reach the Watchtower. Here, the tower's keeper Tiffany calls out to us and we persuade her that it is safe to come out from her hiding place. However, before we can set our eyes on this new character, the screen fades to black and our time with the game has come to an end.
If you want to watch the reveal in its entirety, check out the video below. The presentation begins at the 2:02:00 mark and features the developers playing through the same section of the game that we were able to try out.
The game will be released on Xbox One next year as a digital release.Revealed at Gamescom
, we can confirm that this puzzle game with platforming elements will definitely be appearing on Xbox One. We assume the role of Black, a typically obedient worker who is tasked with powering a pedal cycle in a dystopian and oppressive factory... until the door that has kept him captive for so long malfunctions and allows him to leave his post. Upon exiting the room, we quickly open a nearby trapdoor and begin our escape.
The factory is a dangerous place, make no mistake, and quick reflexes are a must. We narrowly avoid being burned alive by a rotating piston just by standing in the right place, so we decide that it would be a good idea to run through the rest of the room. This brings us out into another room where boxes are being carried above our head by cranes. In the middle of the room is an innocent looking red light, but you don't want to cross that. Its colour belying its intentions, stepping into the light attracts the attention of a nearby sentry gun and it can shoot us quicker than we can outrun it. Three rooms in and we're already dead.
We respawn at the start of the room, but this time we make clever use of the boxes' shadows to create a void in the red light that allows us to cross to the other side of the room and head through another door. It is in this new room that we meet another of the factory's dangers: a guard. We're unarmed and unable to confront him directly, but there's absolutely nothing to stop us dropping on his head from a height. It is from him that we get the most useful tool of the game -- a command laser. This laser allows us to command other workers to manipulate machinary, open doors and swap positions.
We use this laser in a number of ways across the next five rooms to command workers to aid our escape, until eventually we get to a more derelict part of the factory. Here there is more of an emphasis on platforming as we jump across gaps in the factory walls, navigate broken gantries and survive several oncoming industrial crushers. Every time, the puzzles became more difficult, the finale coming in the form of a room that was completely black. With no visual clues, all that players could hear was the regular patterned hissing of steam. Using only audio clues, players had to work out when it was safe to pass the invisible but all too deadly steam traps. Relieved that we weren't burned alive, we burst out of the grid at the end of the pipe and into the open world.
While the demo ended here, this is certainly not the end of Black's perilous escape. You can attempt this for yourself when the game is released next year.