If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.
This quote perfectly sums up The Forgotten City, as you find yourself trapped in historic Roman forgotten city. How did you end up here you may be asking? Good question. Right as the story starts in modern time, you meet a stranger who is very reluctant to reveal their name… Seem’s a little suspect right? With a little persuading, we can convince them to tell us their name, and… it’s Karen. Typical. Well next they ask you to enter the nearby ancient ruins to find their missing friend, Al. Also seems very suspect but you’re obviously a good person and you decide to help this Karen you’ve just met, and this is where your time-looping, narrative driven tale begins. Upon stepping into the ancient ruins and discovering a dark secret that’s been hidden away for seemingly years, you’re dragged into a portal and awaken in ancient Rome. Seems strange huh? Well, this is only the beginning. It’s hard to believe this now stand-alone game is from a popular Skyrim Mod, but it’s here, it’s fantastic, and it’s ready to test your wits.
As you enter and explore the city, you’ll discover many other inhabitants of this city, the first of them being Galerius. Get used to seeing this lovely chap, you will see him many, many times as you loop into the city. You’ll also encounter an abundance of golden statues, and my only advice to you is to memorise the location of as many of these statues as you can, you’ll thank me later. These are the bodies of past sinners from the city, who remain back to remind the current inhabitants not to go break any rules. They’ll also sometimes turn their heads to face you, it’s spooky and genuinely made me jump the first time it happened. Eventually, you’ll find yourself at Magistrate Sentius’ villa, and he will go on to explain to you about The Golden Rule. Long story short, breaking The Golden Rule, which is done by committing any kind of crime, will cause the golden statues to become reanimated and they’ll begin to rain down arrows on anyone nearby. See what I mean about remembering where these statues are placed? They can’t be killed once they begin their rampage, so all you can do is follow the on-screen prompt and run. Each time you loop, you do get to keep anything picked up from a previous loop, such as keys to NPC’s houses, or the beautifully dangerous golden bow you’ll come across as you play the main story.
There are 4 different endings to discover, and all are varied on the ways you can approach them. The game itself is very narrative driven, and honestly the writing is absolutely fantastic. There haven’t been many games recently that have managed to keep the story constantly engaging, but TFC does it near perfectly. Each character you engage with is excellently written, and have multiple dialogue options. Don’t worry if you do find yourself choosing the incorrect dialogue, you can always time-loop and try, try again! See what I did there? Clever huh. The main storyline is very good at keeping you invested and it also offers up a few side quests which seamlessly tie in with the main story. When you encounter a puzzle and finally figure it out, it’s a very rewarding feeling. While I’m here talking about the gameplay mechanics, it would be rude of me not to mention how absolutely gorgeous the game looks! It’s simply stunning. The team working on the title is a small one, so it’s fantastic what they’ve created here.
I will try and keep what I say as vague as possible as TFC offers up many plot twists which are definitely best experienced as spoiler free as possible. I went into this game completely blind and I cannot describe how pleasantly surprised I was during my playthroughs. If you have an interest in Ancient Rome culture, with a time-looping murder mystery twist, I can’t recommend TFC enough, and I can honestly say this is my Game of the Year so far. TFC is currently digital only, but does have a physical release lined up at the end of August.