The Forgotten City takes you for a ride, but it’s a ride that adapts to the player’s pace. Some of its best moments are better left unspoiled. So, there’s going to be a lot of ambiguity throughout this review. The Forgotten City serves an adventure time loop with rich characters, thoughtful threads, and writing that is well-paced.
The Forgotten City establishes the type of game it sets out to be right from the start. After a guided tour of the city which you’ll begin to familiarize yourself with, we are told there exists a “golden rule”. This rule, as you play, is indirectly meant to be broken. It’s a great premise to game player choice. For example, you can’t directly murder but instead if you happen to lead someone to danger it’s no fault of yours.
After some initial hours with The Forgotten City I couldn’t wait to keep playing. In the time between, I was thinking what if I did this or that. With some limitations I was able to realize some of the possibilities I was imagining. As you get to know the citizens you’ll begin to complete the goals and leads. The tracking of these different objectives is great since you can bounce around. Although there is a somewhat hidden timer for certain threads; you’ll have plenty of time to figure out a couple of things per loop.
There’s a grandness to The Forgotten City even though it feels like more of a town. There’s plenty of gossip between the citizens. Word gets around about who is doing what. The citizens are also smart enough to bend the “golden rule” to their advantage. It felt satisfying to outwit a certain merchant known to be a scalper of sorts.
In The Forgotten City there’s a whisper phenomenon that you are affected by. I think the explanation behind the whispers is great. It’s also the best way to steer the player into what to do next. I would be pacing back and forth trying to figure out if I missed something. All of a sudden the whisper would tip me into looking for a character or dialog I may have missed.
One of my favorite moments in The Forgotten City happened for lack of a better term by accident. I will try to be as detailed as possible in order to preserve the mystery. It seems that some character within the city would’ve alluded to the location I stumbled upon. A lead notification popped up and bolded in red what would’ve been the first step to get to where I was. Forgotten City allowed me to continue and I think that’s something worth highlighting.
I started by talking with some person in a tucked away cave. They self-isolated for reasons you’ll see. This new lead took me deeper through this cave. Which led me to some underground temple. Throughout this new area I talked to another character as well. This whole stumble turned into me meeting two characters and exploring a new area that wasn’t perceivable.
You’ll eventually get access to a weapon if you follow one of the leads. This is one of the weaker points for The Forgotten City. Combat was more tedious than it was fun. With the weapon itself, I understood its necessity though, as it does get used for platforming puzzles.
Something I wish more games would include that The Forgotten City gets right is helping with player repetition. If I wrapped up a lead or goal as neatly as possible then at the start of the next loop there was a way to complete it without my involvement. Repetition when it comes to games that feature a loop can feel good. Still, I appreciate the option to assist with tasks so that I can focus on other ones.
There’s hints throughout Forgotten City that steer you into obtaining the true ending. It wasn’t overly difficult once you achieved one of the endings. By then you should have a good grasp of what needs to be done to get to the elusive perfect loop.
The Forgotten City does explore its themes well enough. It asks if a utopia is possible. A utopia can only exist for as long as the subjects are willing to submit. The citizens of The Forgotten City have a lot to say and it’s great to see this mod come full circle as a modern standalone experience.