Spirits of Anglerwood Forest a narrative-driven adventure game where you'll be investigating the mystery of the titular Anglerwood Forest. We decided to send our App Army into those woods to see if they could uncover the truth behind it all.

Here's what they said:

Michael Purdy

I’m sorry to say this game really bored me. The art style is weird (boys run animation is particularly distracting, with his feet alternating sizes as they move), graphics look like something I would use in RPG maker. The characters are drawn without much detail which clashes with the background.

I understand that it was made by one person, but I find it bland and it doesn’t appeal to me. That said, the sound is nice and it did benefit from headphones. It also controls well enough. I’m afraid I can't find much positive to say about this one. Just not for me.

Naail Zahid

First of all, and I mean no disrespect to the artist behind the game, but the game's animations (both characters and locations) look horrible, like some early 2000s flash games. Maybe this was intended, but I'm not a fan. The movement and frames of animation look so choppy, that it actually hindered my experience as I could not look past how low budget it all looked.

Secondly, the music is so repetitive that I always put my phone on silent just to be able to make any progress. Honestly felt like stock music. Thirdly, and this one is probably the one thing that irked me the most - the gameplay is boring. You basically do the same thing in each chapter, lighting lanterns at night in order to stop monsters from attacking the town or area you are in.

 

Now, it would be alright if your character didn't control so awkwardly, getting stuck in corners and around NPCs. There's also the complete lack of hints on what to do at times, especially in the opening parts of the game. There's also no visual cue that you've picked up whatever item you are expected to, so it leaves you guessing if you've accomplished what you were sent out to do in certain quests.

It doesn't help that the game has no checkpoints (for example if you have to pick up a call, the game will restart you from the beginning of your current chapter, with all of your progress being reset).I'd also like to mention that there is a "Delete Data" button on the title screen. What this does and why it's there without an explanation is strange, and almost makes me feel like this is a pre-alpha copy of the game maybe?

There's a lot of weird smaller quirks here and there, so I cannot think of why I'd recommend this game to anyone. It's boring as heck and lacks visual and audio polish.

Jim Linford

So far I like the hand-drawn charm of the game. I know the animation is ropey. But it adds to it. I don’t like the controls and would prefer on-screen buttons. As mentioned there is no save. I was in the middle of the first chapter and put my phone down as had something to do. Played the game again and got sent to the start. Lack of hint system is annoying too.

I played some more. I think this game will get too repetitive for me. The second chapter was the same objective as the first chapter. Just a different location. Also, Controls and lack of mid save point Mean the game isn’t clicking for me. Sorry.

Funem

Spirits of Anglerwood is a sort of puzzle, adventure hybrid game with a spooky story laid over the top of it to give it more substance. I kinda like the graphics in an old-style storybook sort of way, but they feel unfinished and reminded me of the old Atari 2600 Pacman, which looked good until you moved downwards and you then discovered that the character graphic didn’t have a downward-facing animation.

With this game it's odd it’s like this as there is so much more animation in the game as part of the storytelling that the graphics for the core gameplay are lacking like this. I think the controls match what is needed for the gameplay and work ok, for me anyway. The music is good and very atmospheric though it needs expanding upon, there is a real lack of sound effects or ambient noises.

The core game mechanics are pretty repetitive and after a few levels of play to write a review, I can’t really see me going back to finish it or see what it had to offer, even if it does change up for later levels, I wasn’t drawn enough into the game to want to find out

Mark Abukoff

I kind of like the art style. Not the characters, but the creepy looking trees and the little monsters. The movement of the kid running seemed kind of basic for a premium game. The music was good at first but got repetitive and monotonous. I turned it off after a while.

Controls seemed imprecise. Overall I found it interesting but too repetitive with audio and visual that was most disappointing and I really wasn’t motivated to push through it very far. As others have said, not good that there are no saves. I won’t be putting much more time into this.

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Martin Meier

First of all, if this game was made by just one person, this is quite impressive. The music, especially the piano track at the beginning is too hard and needs some rework, as well as the sound effects. I don’t mind the game’s graphics and animations, it fits the mood of the game.

The game is kind of a narrative-driven mystery puzzler, and I like it - especially the change between levels in the form of travels of the main character from one place to another. I am some levels in now, but I can see the game might become repetitive later, but I’ll see if there are new mechanics or gameplay elements while progressing in the story.

It’s neither a bad game nor a great game, so if you’re into puzzle games with a mystery touch, this might keep you occupied for a while.

Oksana Ryan

I liked the look of this game but the game itself played badly. There was a lot of endlessly wandering around, sometimes you could jump fences and other times you couldn’t, there were fields that you couldn’t enter and lots of dead-end lanes. There was too much reading the narrative and not a lot of action.

In fact, after several levels, there seemed to be a sameness to the gameplay - round the lamp three times while scattering salt and light it, over and over. There were ‘scary’ tree creatures that sprouted up but I didn’t have to fight them. I dare say, if I had taken the time, it would have panned out into a story worth following, but I didn’t really feel the inclination to continue with any more running around trees. Not for me.

JT Hernandez

A 2D overhead adventure/puzzle game where you have to run around a small area and, in your head, form a plan for an hour where you will touch trees, drop salt and light a number of torches in an oddly particular ritual. The puzzle aspect of the game could be kind of interesting, but the gameplay itself suffers from the unusual pace of the game.

The area or level often requires to talk to a particular person to actually get the game started, which really means you need to talk to all people. Each individual level may make you pass the level with 2 torches, the with 3 torches, then with 4 torches... And if you didn't finish the level (for example, if you were interrupted by a phone call) then when you come back to it, you need to start over again...

All the talking, running around, and passing the level 3 times. Because part of the game is trying you to force you to visualize the map in your head, there is no map available to help you find the torches and trees that you're looking for. My biggest complaint is actually that the music and sounds, while pleasant, can not be adjusted it disabled... So unless I want to turn off my main phone volume, I have to listen to the game's noises.

Diane Close

This is a nicely illustrated and animated creepy tale about a boy protecting his home against bad things in a haunted forest, and exploring the mystery behind it all through twelve chapters. The gameplay is split between day and night cycles.

During the day you gather information from people you meet, and supplies you’ll need for the evening. At night you perform rituals in a varying sequence in order to avoid being devoured by the monsters chasing you while moving further into the forest to uncover the source of the mystery.

Negatives:

  • The game asks for access to your photos and media, with no explanation given as to why. I denied it access and the game still ran fine.
  • There is no way to turn off the music. It’s appropriately gloomy but quite repetitive.
  • The game is not voiced, so has subtitles only, so there’s really no reason to not offer a way to turn off the music, leaving only sound effects, or even be able to have it be completely silent.
  • There’s no hint system, so you need to figure out where and what things are when you’re sent on quests. The game doesn’t make it obvious when you’ve found what you’re looking for, certainly not on a small phone screen.
  • There is no save function, so if you return to the main menu while playing a game’s chapter, you’ll be forced to start the entire thing over from the beginning. Saves only happen once a chapter is completed. The chapters are short and increase in length as you progress. Not everyone has the time available to sit and play through an entire chapter in one go, and it’s very frustrating to have to start over from the beginning just because you got interrupted and had to quit.
  • The only option on the title screen besides “tap to start” is “delete data”. I assume that’s the game’s data and not the data on my entire phone, but I’m not pressing it to find out.
  • Either I haven’t figured out how to jump fences and gates in both directions, or they’re a one-way jump only. You’re never told, you just can’t do it. That’s one of the negatives in this game is lack of feedback. I’m told I need branches from certain trees, but they aren’t identified on-screen and I get no visual “Congrats! You found a Blech Tree!” when I find one.
  • There’s no skip function for the between scene visuals, and there’s no way to speed up the speech text scrolling or skip them.
  • You need to be sure to thoroughly explore the levels during the daytime because you need to do things in a certain order at night. There’s no “pinch to zoom out” function, so you’ll be going in blind unless you’ve mapped it out during the day gameplay in your mind.

Positives:

  • Lovely art! A wonderful North American rural fall setting with a simple art style that reminds me of Norman Rockwell meets Edward Hopper with a tinge of Grant Wood.
  • An interesting and immersive story.
  • Finite mazes combined with puzzles makes for interesting if mildly repetitive gameplay.
  • What you need to do doesn’t vary that much, but thankfully the story keeps you engaged.
  • Appropriately gloomy music that occasionally verges on ragtime and jazz, changing in tempo with the day into evening game transition.

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