Forgotten City Review
need to know
What is it? The mystery of the first-person time loop is set in the ancient Roman city, where one sin kills everyone
Expect to pay: 25 USD/20 GBP
Developer: Modern Storyteller
Publisher: Dear villagers
Review date: RTX 2080, Intel i7-9700K, 16GB RAM
multiplayer game: No
Associate: Official website
Technically speaking, most games are of the time loop type. You can reload the save to try again, you can kill and die without any consequences, and you can press the reset button in the world to start again with the knowledge of events that have not happened yet. Every day can be Groundhog Day.
The Forgotten City is actually a time loop game, which makes good use of that magical reset button. You start your adventure today, stumble into some ancient Roman ruins full of golden human statues, and then quickly return to the past through the portal. You arrive in the same Roman city, but now it is primitive, and all these statues are living people. What happened to them? Why did they become gold? Is this city really a paradise beyond time, or is it more like a prison? How can I return to my own time? Why are there ziplines everywhere in ancient Roman cities?
The answers to these questions (except for the zip line, which is just to facilitate your fast travel) require a lot of conversations with citizens, almost all of them are well-designed characters, and many have disturbing secrets and interesting stories to tell. The time loop is your best weapon, and will eventually transform you from a confused newcomer to an almost omniscient detective in a city full of suspects. This is a satisfactory way of investigating, turning the clock back every day to get to know the same people and witness the same events, just with new eyes and new information.
Like all utopias, there is a dark reason why this city is so pleasant and peaceful. If anyone in the city (including you) commits crimes such as stealing or killing, the ground will rumbling and people will start to turn into golden statues. You must rush back to the portal, and it will reset the day, giving you the opportunity to do things in a different way, or to try a whole new way of investigating.
(Image source: dear villagers)
Before being recreated by Unreal Engine, the forgotten city started as a module of Skyrim. But its roots in Skyrim are still very obvious in the appearance and animation of the characters and similar dialogue systems. What it surpasses Skyrim lies in the well-written and well-performed dialogues. Despite being in the fantasy environment of an ancient city trapped by time, the dialogue feels natural and real.
In Skyrim (to be honest, most games), I tend to become impatient and skip conversations, but here I am happy to listen to everyone’s opinions, not just because it depends on uncovering the dark secrets of the city To it. Maybe the act of skipping to the next line without clicking the mouse button doesn’t sound like the biggest compliment I can give, but it really is.
Solving smaller mysteries and side missions is particularly interesting. A woman is poisoned to death, but if murder is a crime that should lead to the end of the city, how is this possible? Believe me, I know: when I put my hand on the bow, the first thing I do is shoot an arrow directly at someone’s head, and the world immediately begins to destroy.
So how did anyone deal with the murder without the statue of Gaydon? It took a few cycles to save her from death, and one or two cycles to figure out how to save her every day without having to do it herself. The Forgotten City is about repeating things over and over again, but it does a lot of work to ensure that these things do not become annoying chores.
Even if you haven’t witnessed their interaction with your own eyes, it is interesting to slowly discover the connections between the people of the city. Another side task involved tracking down a person who harassed a local shopkeeper with nasty notes and graffiti (obviously, it is not the end of the world to think of people as a mess). I got a clue from someone, which took me to another clue, which made me- oops, the third clue was just buried under a pile of rubble.I rescheduled the day to make sure the people I needed to talk to no The stone was crushed into pulp, and the harasser was eventually traced. He frankly admitted that he left the notes only because I helped him in the early side missions. When trying to help other people solve a problem, helping the person with the problem usually leads to a breakthrough.
(Image source: dear villagers)
Not only do you have the memory of the day, you also keep the physical items you collected between restarts. Find the key to a locked door and you never have to go back and retrieve it again. Collect some gold and it will still be in your pocket when you return through the portal. Like ziplines, these are shortcuts that make it easier to repeat the same day so that when the ground starts to shake, you can quickly dive into what you are doing.
Finding one’s own loopholes in the criminal system is equally pleasant. Maybe I can’t kill someone without completely relaxing, but there are ways to entice people to die, and this method will slowly become apparent when you spend some time in the city-especially when you Stand when you are aware of an extremely dangerous place, because you saw other people crushed before a few resets.
Theft is not allowed, but if someone else commits a crime and triggers the apocalypse, is there really any harm in looting a few boxes of gold when I escape back to the portal? maybe not! This is a free sin! I spent the money I stole and bought something too expensive from the person I stole it, of course there is no harm. Thanks to the useful time loop, he is not smart at all.
Trial and terror
The Forgotten City is not all about walking, talking, and listening. There are some battles-you can even bring a gun from the future. This is actually a shame. I had to sneak through a run-down palace full of creepy animated statues, firing a sequence of them with magic bows, which lasted much longer than necessary. It was chilling at first, but the strange statues that came to me over and over again quickly repeated.
(Image source: dear villagers)
In the forgotten city, climbing and jumping are not particularly smooth. I didn’t really notice this during the hours of peaceful exploration, but it became obvious in my dynamic palace crawl. The whole part of the game prevented me from doing what I wanted to do: walking, talking, and listening to interesting people’s stories.
Thankfully, most of the 10 to 12 hours required to reach the ending of The Forgotten City (and there are four endings, so you can spend more time if you want) can be used to do this: Absorbing finer details, a beautiful and mysterious city, slowly getting to know a series of interesting and well-acting characters. If you have to relive the day over and over again, like Groundhog Day, this is a great choice.
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