Over the last decade or so, there have been a lot of games that have been created off the back of a successful game mod. Team Fortress 2, DOTA 2 and The Stanley Parable are some that definitely spring to mind, and they’re all widely enjoyed by games across the world. The Forgotten City could join those ranks as a full fledged game created after a starting out life as an extremely successful Skyrim mod.
Given The Forgotten City has already won an award for its writing, you can be fairly sure that you’re going to be in for a good story, and you won’t be let down. There’s a good five-to-seven hour adventure that bends time and your mind to tell its full tale. You start the game after having been pulled from a river by a friendly face who sends you into an old ruin to rescue her friend, only to find yourself plummeting down into an ancient Roman city, filled with golden statues in horrified positions. As you delve deeper, you find warnings to turn back and run away, but you instead continue and wander into a wormhole that spits you out two-thousand years earlier, when the city was in its pomp. Filled with people wandering around, and immediately you’re taken to the man in charge who tells you of the Golden Rule.
The Golden Rule is a rule that states if you sin, every inhabitant of the city will be turned into statues of gold. The one respite is that the senator can run to a shrine, utter an incantation and the wormhole will reopen for you to enter and start the process over again. Of course, everyone has forgotten what has happened, but the items you take with you and, more importantly, the information you learn is kept forever. This is important as you’ll need to restart a number of times in order to release the people from their time-looping hell, by figuring out how to prevent someone from sinning.
The city you’re trapped in is surprisingly large as well, with plenty of different areas to explore which all hold different stories that clue you in to the reality of the situation. It’s all really interesting, especially when you know what to do, so when you have to restart, you can quickly catch up to where you were before. You’re not totally lost when you need to restart, which improves the playability, because nobody wants to repeat the lengthy tasks time and time again. It’s a great way to engage with the player, because there will be times where you feel like you’ve made so much progress, only to realise you have to restart, and it allows them to keep playing without losing all of their progress.
Graphically, The Forgotten City is rather nice too – the settings and scenery anyway. You’re greeted with a beautiful vista, surrounded by tall rock faces on either side with the sun peeking through the top, and beautiful stream running through the whole place. Each home is also really impeccably beautifully furnished, but the best part for me is the internal areas of various ‘stages’ in the game. While I won’t go into too much detail to avoid spoilers, there’s a lot of hidden details that tell you so much about the world and what everything is. It’s one of the most interesting games I’ve played in a good while.
The only bits that really harm the gameplay is the loading zones. They’re not hidden behind any loading screens or anything, you’ll just suddenly stop mid-stride and hold steady for upwards of ten to fifteen seconds and then, once you load back in, the frame rate drops close to zero. It is a shame because for such a wonderful and immersive experience, you’re really shocked out of it when you suddenly stop and have to wait for the game to resume.
The Forgotten City also has four separate endings, each giving a unique and interesting way to finish the game, but not giving you a way to return to the title to try to resume and find a different way to complete the game. When I was playing it, I hit the first ending almost by accident, just to see what would happen if I performed a certain action, and then I couldn’t skip the end credits, or return to the start to play again, I had to crash out and reopen the game completely. It’s a frustrating way to restart, especially when you inadvertantly trigger an ending without meaning to and realise you need to alt-F4 to exit and reload your save.
I found The Forgotten City to be one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in such a long time. The random load screens and inabilty to restart after hitting an ending aside, the game has an incredibly fun story with so many interesting facets to it that you just have to sit and play it.