The Forgotten City is an indy game developed by a very small studio called Modern Storyteller, however, with its amazing visuals and interesting gameplay loop, it is ready to compete with AAA titles on its own. As the game revolves around a deep mystery, I will try to keep my review as spoiler free as possible.
In the beginning of the game, the players find themselves in an ancient Roman city without much context and figure out that the city is under threat of an unknown source. Some call it a message from the gods and some do not even believe it. According to those who believe it, if even a single person in the city commits a crime everyone will be punished and killed. The player is given the task to solve this mystery and save the city. With the help of the ability to start the same day again and again, the player is left to explore the city.
Just going around the city talking to people and trying to learn something, anything about them builds a very suspenseful ambiance. Detailed graphics of the city help the players keep curious about every nook and cranny of the city. Each time you start the day again you have a different bit of information about the people and the mysterious powers that are at work behind the threat to the city. Exploring the city was the favourite aspect of the game for me, not just going around the city but talking to different people in different times of the same day. Each conversation reveals more and more, and each information revealed creates different questions until finally, the player comes face to face with one of the four endings of the game.
Just like the pace of the game, the ending is also dependent on the player. There are four different endings depending on which mysteries you whish to focus first or your choices for the deep philosophical questions asked to you at different stages of the game. Best part is that you can discover the city however you like and progress the story your own way and end up with one the endings but if you choose to explore every ending, it is also possible by simply making different choices when restarting the day in the game. Since the story is very concise and is happening in a single day, repeating and altering your steps from your first playthrough is not hard or time consuming.
The only thing that kind of bothered me about the game is the class selection in the beginning of the game. The player is given to choose a profession for their character in game; Archaeologist, Soldier, Fugitive and Amnesiac. Each provides a different buff for your character. For example, archaeologist can understand written text and identify different artefacts in the Roman city, whereas the fugitive can run faster than the other classes. Having options for your character is another positive aspect of the game, but in my various playthroughs of the game, I noticed that whatever class I choose the difference could have been more present in the story. Some advantages provided by the classes feel unnecessary or useless on some occasions. Especially the soldier class, it provides a gun but I believe you will not find much use for it in the city. (My suggestion is to pick archaeologist, being able to read the texts and understanding the purposes of the artifacts really add on to the discovery.)
Overall, if discovering cities and unravelling mysteries are interesting to you, chances are that you will really enjoy this game. Despite the size of the developing team, the game provides AAA size of adventure and (surprisingly) graphics at a very affordable price. However, it is worth noting that this is a condensed game; some actions feel repetitive and it does not take long to reach an ending. The repetitive feeling is more persistent in the endgame phase while trying to discover the other endings, but in general it is a very enjoyable game.
Developer: Modern Storyteller
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows, Amazon Luna, Stadia
Release date: 28 July 2021
Featured Image: Playstation Store Page for The Forgotten City, https://www.playstation.com/en-fi/games/the-forgotten-city/
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