Anamnesis, incredible/weird strategy RPG

Incredibly weird? Weirdly incredible? I don’t know yet to be honest, but this game (my favorite description so far is that it’s like King of Dragon’s Pass meets Fallen London) is unlike anything I’ve ever played.

It’s made with Ren’Py by the way.

Maybe if Christine Love made strategy RPGs?


A quick note – there is a basic help on the website,

Though the in-game context help isn’t bad.

There’s a rather long thread at bay12 if you like that sort of thing,

Seven pages is actually quite a small thread by Bay12 standards.

Sold! (Well, you already had me at the bit maga quoted.)

From initial appearances, it’s a fair way from done.

(I might poke at it some more later, but I just picked up Don’t Starve and X-COM Enemy Unknown, so my gaming time is going to be pretty monopolised for a while.)

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.

Wow, that’s a great review!

I wonder if the developer would mind if we added the game to IFDB? Are WIP usually added to IFDB anyway? Not many IF games see this kind of constant development.


An interesting question. Surely a primary goal of the IF Archive is to preserve the heritage of all text-centric gaming, and any public-domain or noncommercially-licensed game should be there regardless of whether the author is even aware of the Archive’s existence and general endeavor. On the other hand, Anamnesis seems to be in an effervescent state of vigorous and wide-ranging development at this time; perhaps adding its current iteration to the historical record is premature. Yet this seems like a fairly common situation-- if no official statement of the Archive’s preferred policies on these matters already exists, perhaps we might induce one of the archive-keepers themselves to comment on the general question and settle the matter?


I’ve played several more games of Anamnesis (continuing to exclusively use the “Adventurer” mode), and am impressed at the ample offering of content which faciliates ongoing replay value. The gameworld, cast, and particulars of the plot are procedurally generated and heavily randomized in each new game. This could quickly devolve into bland reptitiveness, but the author’s imagination has simply included so much material that even after perhaps twenty games I’m still confronted with new territories and novel situations I haven’t before seen.

Anamnesis has many virtues, but also has a few problems that seem likely to frustrate most players. In my opinion there are four prominent flaws of the game in its current state-- three are poor design choices (or perhaps unintended outcomes of interactions between numerous complex mechanics), and one is a simple bug.

  1. Money (Arkhe). The game seems primarily balanced for play in “Governor” mode, and Adventurer mode presents many fundamental or structual problems for the player. In the latter mode, the player-character is too often afflicted by mere random adversities and thus arbitrarily driven into bankruptcy. Presumably most other readers of this forum share my opinion that play of any game is much more satisfying when the player-character’s fate is largely a result of the player’s choices (tactics, strategy, and roleplaying). For dismal tragedies in which reckless gambles and fickle fate are the prime-movers of destiny we all are already immersed in that incorrigible phenomenon known as “real life,” relief from which is presumably our main motivation (apart from mere intellectual exercise) to explore works of fiction and interactive games. In my opinion the most effective way to correct this deficiency in Anamnesis would be to ensure that in each possible random configuration of the territories of the game-world, at least one territory is always included where the default exploration option is some form of minor income-production (such as is currently the case with the Veshite “Free Mines” territory). In a game like this, I’m willing to accept that if my player-character suffers notable misfortunes, then I as a player must resort to grind-based tactics to persevere. Yet Anamnesis often does not offer even that option; particularly since Merit decrements based on debt, Merit is required to visit neutral territories where non-random income can be generated, and plunder derived from conquering territories seems to be based on current Merit, the player can far too often simply lose the game, with no plausible course of corrective action at all, based on random events. Another beneficial change to the structure of gameplay would in my opinion simply be to eliminate the possibility of debt. For example if I’m flat broke and a band of Ogres attacks an allied caravan, I fail to see any sensible way in which I could lose 80 Arkhe; as I had nothing to be stolen, the Ogres should have obtained nothing from me.

As a gross palliative and after extensive play, in my opinion a much better (i.e. more enjoyable) game balance is achieved by raising the starting cash for Adventurers. I effected a modest rise in initial funds to 400 Arkhe (from 300), and found this nicely enhanced my ability to navigate the gameworld based on skillful play (as opposed to squandering play sessions made hopeless due to random vicissitudes). Those who might wish to try this themselves need only open a plain-text editor (e.g. Windows Notepad) and change two separate entries in the file script.rpy:

        "An Adventurer":
            if pcontrol == 1:
                $ yterr = "The Shelter"
                $ yterr = "The Refuge"
            $ arkhe = 301

Simply change “$ arkhe = 301” to “$arkhe = (XXX + 1)” where XXX is the starting funds value you desire, but note that this value must be changed in two separate places (one for initializing a new game, and the other for re-initializing an ongoing game).

As an aside, in looking through the game’s code I found the Python language in which the game is written surprisingly comprehensible despite my utter lack of previous familiarity with this programming language. However, reading is one thing while writing is quite another-- in a game with as much raw volume of output text as Anamnesis, I personally wouldn’t want to ponder the effort involved in using this toolset as making a game would certainly be far more an exercise in the meticulous technical details of programming and discursive formatting (of which I’m not fond) as opposed to conventional text composition or mundane writing (which I enjoy). For those who might be interested in building a broadly Anamnesis-like game with Inform 7, an old generic example of mine which embraces I7’s Scene mechanics as a framework may be of some use in getting started.

  1. The author has combined two quite separate metafunctions, “Save Game” and “Quit Game,” into the single function “Save and Quit.” For a game a complex as Anamnesis, a game which has such a considerably steep learning curve combined with very little general documentation, one would be hard-pressed to find a better way to foster inherent frustration for new players. My first few games lasted only a few turns, and my next few only ran to 50-100 turns (requiring a nontrivial investment of playing time) as I strove to understand the mechanics of gameplay. After each one of these lost games, I had to restart from scratch at the character creation screen. I found the game generally appealing and fortunately decided to persist in playing, but I think many players would instead give up and never return to this slightly eccentric game. Even if for whatever (in my opinion unsound) reason the author should like to forbid incremental save-games, I think a diversification of interface functions into “Save and Quit” plus simply “Quit” (i.e. no independent “Save” allowed) would offer at least some consolation in allowing the player (to whom time spent playing as opposed to engaging in other activities such as patronizing the local ice-cream parlor is important) to recover from play sessions in which the player-character was notably beset by inexorable adversity leading to an inevitably lost contest-- particularly because Anamnesis relies heavily on randomization, and general trends in one’s luck during any individual episode are not usually apparent for fifty or more turns. As matters stand now, the player must resort to stark contrivance-- backing up savegame files from the \Anamnesis\game\saves\ folder-- to make the most effective use of (always sadly limited) hobby time spent playing Anamnesis.

  2. Opportunities to acquire any Seafaring skill are far too rare-- given the random configuration of territories, numerous games are likely in which the player-character does not acquire any nonzero value at all for Seafaring. As the player is often strapped for cash in Adventurer mode, visiting ocean or strait territories as often as one might prefer (i.e. enjoying the game) can often become unlikely or impossible. Furthermore a number of skill tests associated with recovering or researching artifact pieces are tests of Seafaring skill (e.g. in pursuit of the Saurian Moon), which tests the player-character therefore cannot often complete. Though Merit can of course be spent to hire a consultant in cases of acquiring an artifact, in cases of research the possibility of research is thus simply lost, with no chance of appeal or later revisitation. Affiliated units (i.e. non-Renascent allies), many of whom are naval units with Seafaring expertise, furthermore cannot be used in any artifact related tests. This is dubious-- are these units under the player’s control, or not?

  3. Not all game variables are reinitialized when embarking upon a new episode in an ongoing game (as opposed to restarting with a new character at the conclusion of an episode). This is most noticeable in two areas, base upgrades and investments. If a player ends an episode while Outstation or Fortress construction is ongoing, Outstation construction is not at all possible until a sufficient number of turns have passed in the new episode equivalent to the turns remaining for project completion in the previous episode. Likewise I’ve noticed occassional oddities with investments-- after an investment outcome report, I suddenly have either more or less cash than simple arithmetic allows given the investment parameters, and these errata always seem to occur in the early turns (first ~50) of a continuing episode after a prior victory. The bottom line for players is: if you intend to continue the game in a new episode (rather than restart with a new character), postpone your victory whenever possible so that no base upgrading is in progress and no investments are outstanding on the final turn.

Anamnesis has a few other minor bugs (very occassionally during artifact recovery vignettes the text overflows from the display area due to quirks of procedural generation, in one game the location “Nivar’s Spinal Avenue” was initialized to appear in two territory slots, if the player-character has a negative value for Merit votes “for” in the legislature are de facto votes “against,” etc), but these are easily overlooked given the game’s state of ongoing development as well as the considerable novelty of its narrative and its copious general entertainment value.

That’s great stuff. :sunglasses:

On a much more general note, do those who have played Anamnesis have any strong opinions on the mechanic used to facilitate exploration of the territories, particularly in contrast to a more traditional room- or spatially-organized structure of the gameworld? Anamnesis is of course a mouse-driven game utilizing a hyperlink interface for destination selection (though this effect could easily be duplicated in a keyboard-only interface with a simple menu system). In a traditionally-structured text game, the player’s base and the various territories would likely be organized as rooms, with discrete directional relations and intervening locations affecting global mobility. For example in a traditionally-structured game, if we are in (a room called) “Isle of Malta” we likely cannot simply move to (a room called) “Port of Aden” without traversing at least one intervening room (perhaps called “Suez Canal”) where additional gameplay will likely develop. On the other hand, the player may have difficulty remembering how to get from A to B in a world that is randomly configured in each new game. Certainly both approaches are effective in simulating wide-ranging exploration if properly implemented, but in this particular sort of game is one approach inherently more compelling than the other to most players?