While it has technically been floating around Itch for a while, I’ve been sadly ignorant of Annwn: The Otherworld until its Steam release last night. Quantum Soul have produced a spooky Celtic take on intense 1986 stealth-puzzler The Sentinel, a formula that (from my noodling around with its demo) still holds up after thirty-three years. Players control a spirit in the underworld, unable to move, but able to drain energy from trees, then spend it on creating higher vantage points to teleport to, aiming to ultimately destroy the watchful eye scanning the horizon for you.
It’s probably better to just try the demo than have me fumblingly try to explain it, but you have one goal in each of Annwn’s randomly generated levels: Create higher vantage points, climb high enough to see the square of land that The Watcher is standing on, and absorb it as you would a tree. In reality, this is a tense game of cat-and-mouse and misdirection. The Watcher slowly rotating its spotlight-like vision across the land. If it spots a totem (whether or not you inhabit it), it will destroy it, so you have to move fast and warp around to avoid your present location being seen.
It feels like a good time for another studio to take a shot at polishing up The Sentinel, and Annwn: The Otherworld’s bizarre setting and droning, ethereal audio helps ratchet up the tension. It’s not quite as surreal and oppressive as Sentinel Returns and its John Carpenter soundtrack, but it comes close. Unlike previous versions of the game, absorbing life from trees and warping to new vantage points takes time in Annwn. There is a long term progression system allowing you to hold more energy, absorb and move faster, but it only makes a faint difference in the demo, hinting at a gradually escalating pace in the full game.