Thanks for bringing this game to my attention, as I enjoy these sorts of fast-paced games. Anamnesis is very interesting indeed, with intricate gameplay and a vividly imagined narrative. Clearly a work in progress, I’d say the primary weak point of this quite complex game at this time is a lack of documentation-- figuring out what’s going on will take any new player a considerable bit of time and inspire a considerable bit of frustration. The game has a few minor bugs and will someday require significant editing as the author’s native language seems to be other than English, but overall Anamnesis works quite well given its ambitious nature and expansive gameplay. The game is thoughtful and thought-provoking, but also entertaining and often humorous.
Broadly speaking, this steampunkish/fantasy game depicts a struggle between civilizing and human forces of law opposing native forces of anarchy (who are some kind of genetically-engineered mongrels) in a race to colonize what seem to be some recently discovered mystical hinterlands. The player-character can support either faction through a broad array of activities including coalition voting in the legislature, subversion and conquest of various territories, recovering and researching artifacts of great power, or assuming direct rule of the area through popular election as Emperor of the land. At the same time the player-character can pursue personal development through vignettes that simulate traditional sorts of rpg adventures, forming practical alliances with (as well as romancing) fellow adventurers, and gaining personal wealth by investing in various business ventures or finding lost treasures.
After playing a number of games, I’ve found a solid strategy for fairly consistent victory while playing as “Adventurer,” which seems to me the most entertaining of the three possible modes of play (the other options are “Governor” and “Explorer” mode). Since most of the pleasure of playing Anamnesis is in the journey itself, I see no reason to refrain from sharing my discoveries. The most important thing to keep in mind is that an average game will last 300-600 turns (in my experience), so one ought not rashly wade into any particular aspect of gameplay. A good general strategy seems to be:
[spoiler]–Start right away (turn 1) on fortifying your base using both your player-character and your initial allied unit, since fortifying is likely to take dozens if not scores of turns. Unexpectedly, working on fortifications at the base does not prevent the player-character from travelling all over the world having adventures. Though the player-character is a peculiar sort of quasi-immortal being (called a Renascent) who is resurrected if slain while adventuring abroad, if enemies assault and defeat you at your base you lose the game.
–Take a look at the six factions in the legislature (randomized each game). Carefully note which are allied to your cause as well as the three independent goals of each faction’s political agenda. Intermittent voting will occur as the factions offer various peculiar legislative proposals to advance their respective agendas, and you’ll want to vote in a way that benefits the interests of your allies while harming the interests of your opponents. Your personal voting power is your “Merit” (or reputation) which fluctuates based upon your deeds while adventuring throughout the world, although you can also occassionally gain favors from other factions by supporting their current proposal in order to gain a voucher for their support on a vote of your choosing later. The most important outcome of legislative actions is to affect the immigration rate of colonists into the area-- you want as many immigrants as possible to flow in from your own culture, while discouraging immigrants from the rival culture. If over time all the colonists in the territory pledge allegiance to one culture over the other, that culture owns the colony and wins the current game. This process of migrations, however, proceeds at a glacial pace and is not in my opinion a sound strategy for victory.
–The first task is to make an initial visit to all the various “Unexplored Territories” (randomized each game) in order to find out what’s what. The reason to do this right away is that you’ll incur expenses while travelling (renting boats to cross over water, etc), and you’ll want to spend some money to upgrade your unit’s weapons should the opportunity arise. At the beginning of the game, you have your starting funds to use for this purpose; as the game progresses, whether you have any money will increasingly be subject to the whims of chance. Therefore exploring early while you can definitely afford to do so is vital.
–Once all the territories are explored, you’ll be able to make investments in various eccentric fantasy ventures in each explored territory. Begin doing this at once, as the investments take many turns to play out. As soon as a venture is finished, immediately make another investment to keep your money in play. Chance plays a large role in these investments-- in some games you’ll eventually develop a grand fortune, while in others every single investment will be a loser and you’ll have to resign yourself to near-penury. Some basic guidelines in my opinion are to stick to legal investment opportunities only, and pay attention to which territories seem to have consistently profitable enterprises-- invest in those areas repeatedly to the exclusion of other opportunities. For example if you’ve invested in producing several successful movies at the “Pervert’s Alley,” future successful investments in producing movies are more likely. If you’ve lost a lot of money outfitting whaling ships at the “Stink Rock,” future investments in whaling will therefore be more likely to fail.
–Return to peaceful exploration of the territories, having various adventures and enjoying the vividly imagined places and peoples of the game-world. Keep this up until you’ve grown tired of it, as in my opinion this is the heart of gameplay in Anamnesis. A primary objective during this adventuring phase is to build your character’s competence in all areas (health, intelligence, armaments, etc).
–Once you feel you’ve seen and done all that interests you in the territories of the current game, begin doing the quests to recover the various pieces of whatever artifact you’re meant to pursue (randomized each game). Recovering and then researching the artifact components is a process of succeeding at various tests of skill, and a hundred or two hundred turns spent adventuring previously will now pay off handsomely as you easily accomplish your search for the wisdom of the ancients. When this quest is completed, you can use the artifact to win the current game and then move on to another (randomly configured) game with the same player-character if you like (although all character statistics are reset to their original levels).
–If due to misfortune or carefree spending you’re nearly bankrupt, you can begin pursuing the quest artifacts earlier to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. To accomplish quest-related feats without first building up the competence of your character, you can instead spend Merit to call in a consultant and solve the various problems for you. If you’re broke and your Merit is low but you have a tough albeit dimwitted character (a majority of skill-tests are based on Intelligence), you can go around picking fights in the territories to rebuild your Merit for hiring consultants. If you’ve managed to exhaust both your funds and your Merit without having built the broad competence of your character (for example your pc is only a modestly clever fellow and a pathetic weakling in battle), you’ll likely be in an autocatalytic downward spiral and are probably best off ceding the current game and starting a fresh episode.
–Though not immediately comprehensible, fighting enemy units and conquering the various territories is not merely unnecessary but probably best avoided. Should you pursue a tactic of marching around the colony raising a ruckus, the “Local Tension” will rise dramatically. The higher the Local Tension in the colony, the more frequently you are counterattacked by enemy units. As enemy units are defeated, they are replaced by more powerful enemies. You can quickly get into a dismal situation where you will face an endless stream of combats with extremely powerful foes whom your player-character has no hope of besting, and you will lose the current game when your base is captured. If you’ve managed to raise prodigious amounts of money, you can hire powerful mercenary units to fight for you-- but these units are very costly and likely far beyond your means even if you’ve had notable success with your investments. The bottom line is, fighting doesn’t accomplish much in Anamnesis-- it’s there as an option if you enjoy that sort of thing, but hardly a cogent strategy. Conquest is mostly useful in building your Merit if you’d like to pursue a victory by getting yourself elected Emperor. Though I did this on a single occassion (I dominated the legislature with my 120+ personal votes), gameplay itself was drudgery as I did nothing but sit at my base and engage in defensive combat against rampaging enemies for dozens of turns in a row. In that particular game I never hired a single mercenary unit or fellow adventurer, and thus was able to build my player-character’s martial abilities to best even the most monstrous foes over the course of hundreds of turns before the entire colony descended into perpetual warfare.
–If you want to explore the romantic angle of the game (which is entirely optional, and in truth not very well developed in the game’s current iteration) forget about flirtations in the territories and instead try to form a business partnership with a fellow Renascent adventurer whom you find appealing. This person will then stay with you at your base, and you can thus pursue your affair whenever you like. The love-interests in the territories only visit you very occassionally, and even then the “interaction” is but a trivial report of the visit as opposed to something in which the player-character actively participates. Rather surprisingly for a crpg, Anamnesis seems to offer a notable advantage to the ladies rather than the gents in this regard-- though there are at least a few decent men for a female player-character to pursue, in my opinion nearly every single one of the potential female love interests is rather best avoided for one reason or another. My male Stalwart Aristocrat avidly embraced a life of chaste solitude rather than engage in any sordid affairs with the churlish and psychotic Renascent women. There is one noble heroine, sort of an eccentric female Zorro, that one might fancy and who even has a modest character development arc compared to most of the other incorrigible characters found in the game, but since the cast (or rather, the rogue’s gallery) is randomized in each new game she only rarely appears in the game-world.[/spoiler]
I’ll be following this game from now on with some interest, and I sincerely hope the author continues to steadily expand the complexity of gameplay as well as the highly original fictional setting and memorable cast of characters.