The Forgotten City Review
Modding popular titles is often a launchpad for bigger and bettering things in the gaming industry, and The Forgotten City is just another success story to emerge from fan work. Starting its life back in 2015 as a Skyrim mod developers The Modern Storyteller remade their popular action-adventure mod into a full-fledged, standalone game. I got the chance to play the standalone title on PC. Here’s my thoughts in The Forgotten City review below.
Into the City
At the start of The Forgotten City you awaken on the banks of the Tiber River. At the river you meet a mysterious figure that points you towards your first objective, explore some nearby ruins for a character named Al. Inside the ruins, instead of Al, you find a portal that teleports you 2,000 into the past into a Roman city underground.
Now on its surface the city appears to be what one would normally expect from the time period, but there is a major overarching rule that governs all things. The Golden Rule demands that all residents in the city must pay for the crimes anyone commits. This judgement is delivered swiftly by golden statues littered throughout the city who wield golden bows. Arrows shot from the bows turn individuals into golden statues. Delivering justice to all by way of the transgressions of others.
The idea of a city being ruled by such law creates questions for the main protagonist, who is trapped in the city, so they begin to search for answers. This search introduces you to a wide range of city residents and mysterious secrets lurking in and around the beautifully presented Roman city.
A City and Characters Worth Exploring
Once you reach The Forgotten City you are free to explore it at your own pace. The game is designed in such a way that you will want to soak in as much detail and information as possible. Much of this information comes from the varied and well flushed out residents of the city.
The characters you encounter in The Forgotten City were easily the best part of my experience. Each character you encounter has their own personality and story. There is a ton to sink your teeth into with each characters and their personal predicaments. The writing of each character is top notch. Many of the residents have intertwining stories that go to very interesting places.
Further aiding in the character design is well done performances. While the character models can be a little janky in their faces, the performances really bring each character you encounter to life. Making talking and listening a very easy gameplay system to use.
Characters aside The Forgotten City itself is another character that plays a prominent role in the overarching story. Pulling in design elements from Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Sumerian architecture, the city is a joy to explore. There is a nice mixture of buildings and locations to explore. Many buildings hold secrets that play into the story in very interesting ways. Plus it just looks awesome. The city really pops from a visual perspective.
One complaint I did have with the city is that there is no in-game map. While it is a small complaint, having a map would’ve remedied some of the navigation issues I ran into when trying to find people and locations by name alone.
An Interesting Story on Morality and Utopias
The Forgotten City crafts an interesting story on morality and its purpose. While an individual can go through life adhering to a moral code, all of us break rules at some point. This idea is captured perfectly in the game’s narrative. The Golden Rule will be broken at times as you progress towards a greater good of getting answers. When this happens the city’s residents are turned into statues. By way of a plot device you can escape through a portal that will allow you to repeat the day. Thus acquiring items and information that can be used to solve puzzles and unlock new character interactions you previously couldn’t.
The game features multiple endings and diverging story branches that allow you to really explore and craft an experience largely catered to the decisions you’ve made during your playthrough. While I managed to reach the canon ending I am interested in seeing how the other endings wrap up the game’s philosophical themes.
Gameplay and Performance
As I played through the game I couldn’t help but compare it to Skyrim. There is a lot of similarities in design and feel. The game takes much of the same approaches to gameplay as found in the Skyrim mod. Much of the gameplay works but there is a slight dated feeling to the overall package. You are intermittently stopped for loading screens when entering new parts of the city if you move to quickly for example.
Gameplay aside the game runs very well. There are a lot of tweaks you can make in the settings which is nice to see. I played using both KB+M and Controller and both work well. During my playthrough I had hardly any bugs or performance issues on PC. I only encountered one bug that required a reload as I fell when trying to use a zipline and landed in a section of map I wasn’t suppose to be in.
Having never played The Forgotten City mod I was somewhat unsure of what I was getting into with this title. What I found was a pleasant surprise. The game is a deep narrative and exploration rich experience that is a joy to play. There is a nice mixture of mystery and philosophy that really makes the story top-notch. Barring minor gameplay issues like odd character models and QOL inclusions like a map, this game is close to perfection. I’m already wanting to dive back in for a second playthrough.
Thoughts on my The Forgotten City review? Drop them in the comments below.