Turning a Skyrim mod into a full game is an impressive feat on its own, but to then make it something worth playing is a whole different ball game. The Forgotten City, from developer Modern Storyteller, feels a lot like The Elder Scrolls titles of years past. However, contrasting the main quest of Tamriel's northern region is a tale actually worth seeing through to its end.
Transported back in time to an ancient Roman settlement, you stumble upon a small community governed by The Golden Rule. It dictates that should anyone commit a crime, everyone will die and be turned into solid gold. You arrive on the day of a government election, and the current leader strongly suspects someone is about to break it.
That twist turns The Forgotten City into a sort of murder mystery before the murder actually happens, with finding out who the budding perpetrator is becoming the main objective of the game. The other side to this coin is that The Golden Rule doesn't affect you since you're trapped in a time loop. If you or someone else commits a crime, you're able to restart at the point you first entered the village and start again with all knowledge gained still intact.
Combined with the fascinating premise, it's here where the game's fantastic writing comes into play. Clever and witty on its own, dialogue is heightened when you comedically re-introduce yourself to characters a second, third, or even fourth time. Speech options often let you recite what they're going to say — much to their surprise — and then allow you to actually get the jump on the story by telling people to do your bidding for them. If you know someone is about to die, you can tell another person to save them while you focus on a different narrative beat.
Much of The Forgotten City revolves around this mechanic: work your way through different story threads to try and solve the mystery, and if a crime is needed for progression to trigger, commit one and then rewind time to return to safety. The first time it happens is quite the sight to behold, and the novelty doesn't wear off on subsequent loops. The charm comes from manipulating time to your advantage, exploring different options to see if they lead anywhere and doubling back if there's a dead end.
You'll do so through conversation, and we mean a lot of conversation. Every member of the community can be chatted to, all with their own little story to tell and dialogue options to explore. Revelations can spin off into their own side quests or help to form a piece of the larger plot. And so talking to other people is what you'll be doing most of the time, reporting back with important updates or triggering a time loop to ask someone about their secret before they've even decided to tell you. It's a really neat concept that has been capitalised on successfully.
Funnily enough, this is where The Forgotten City resembles Skyrim the most. It does that thing during conversations where the surrounding area sort of falls by the wayside and becomes blurred as all attention is placed on the person you're talking to. Not a complaint by any means, but something we couldn't help notice considering its origins. Hopefully one of the few things future games borrow from Cyberpunk 2077 is the ability to freely move about the place whilst having a discussion.
Outside of conversing with others, there's honestly not a lot else to shout about. There are stretches of light combat, but it's poor. Clunky controls and questionable button mapping makes picking off enemies a bit of a chore, with certain encounters that almost feel like they're designed to kill you if you don’t immediately spot the trick. While these sorts of engagements clearly weren't the focus for the Modern Storyteller team, they still sour an otherwise worthwhile experience. Cut them completely and you've got a better game.
It also doesn’t run particularly well on PlayStation 5, with technical flaws somewhat common. Scenery doesn't always spawn in properly, leaving the area momentarily devoid of any colour as you walk through a door. Hitches and pauses during gameplay bring the experience to a standstill for a second or two. Then set pieces and animations don't always play out properly — one body could be reliably suspended in mid-air during our playthrough. There’s nothing game-breaking here (and we're sure future patches will see to these issues), but it's not without its problems.
For fans of storytelling, The Forgotten City is a solid recommendation. Freed from the shackles of Skyrim, the full game tells a captivating story elevated by clever and humorous writing. With the interesting time loop mechanic creating further situations full of comedy and intrigue, settling down across a few evenings with The Forgotten City will delight. We just wish the combat was either improved or not there at all, and the technical setbacks weren't quite so rampant.
I just beat this game two days ago and it was amazing. It’s def better than a 7 it’s at least a 9 pushing 10 and it’s one of the best games I’ve played this year. I played on ps5 and it was absolutely a smooth experience I didn’t have any of the problems the review mentioned and the combat while not being great I wouldn’t call poor either it’s adequate especially since it takes up maybe a total of thirty minutes of the eight to ten hour runtime
Well since Skyrim came out in 2011 that’s not much of an achievement given all the new/expanded tools they’ve got to tell said story with. Might check it out tho as a 7/10 is easily an 8/10 if you’re a fan of the genre. Which I am. Definitely not for full price though. At around ten hours to complete it, that’s way under…even if it was 10/10
Is the combat like Skyrim or worse?
If it’s based off Skyrim, can I get a wife?
This wasn't even on my radar, but sounds right up my alley. I'll check it out for sure.
This game deserves a 9/10. As a story based game, it is one of the best games this year. This is absolutely the hidden gem of 2021 so far.
@Jaz007 Worse combat, but this isn’t a game so much about combat, but about thinking and making choices. No wife either, but it’s a contained story, not a giant sandbox like Skyrim. While it was a Skyrim mod, do not expect it to be like Skyrim aside from visuals and format perhaps
They should make it using tools from playstations Dreams
Once again, Push Square at the low end of the review spectrum. 83 average on Open Critic including a few 9s. Loving the game so far and definitely deserves more than a 7. Another review here I’ll ignore.
@dark_knightmare2 Thank you for sharing this, I was hesitant and looking for something a bit different, but now definitely I will try it when I get a PS5.
@Dr-M your welcome I hope you enjoy it.
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