Wednesday, July 28, 2021

"The Forgotten City" Review

Riding a wave of hype surrounding time loop games such as "Returnal" and "Deathloop," "The Forgotten City" takes the concept and lifts it to a higher level of intellectual profundity.

Since the days of "The Majora's Mask," developers have toyed with the concept of avoiding imminent destruction with the right moves. "The Forgotten City" injects some current-gen pizzazz into the formula, presenting a dizzying array of choices that make failing the loop -- and following the permutations of the strange aberrations the failure can generate -- nearly as satisfying as completing it.

The dev team at Modern Storyteller proves to be profoundly literate, injecting sophisticated moral and ethical philosophizing. This is a deep, robust game in which story matters every bit as much as gameplay.

Set 2,000 years in the past, you find yourself in a doomed Roman city. Negotiating the local political scene and various levels of the social strata, you unravel a mystery strand by strand, gradually working your way to the "Groundhog Day"-style epiphany.

The sense of freedom and permutations of the story are entrancing, making "The Forgotten City" seem like a living, breathing world that is quickly swirling the drain.

In a sense, just about all video games are time loops, in which you can seize a modicum of control that life doesn't give you, letting you use your experience, knowledge and reflexes to right previous wrongs and succeed where you once failed. "The Forgotten City" is a time loop upon the time loop concept itself, shining a light on what can be done with the genre.

Publisher provided review code.

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