It’s been quite the journey for developer Modern Storyteller’s new game The Forgotten City as the game originally started off as a mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. That mod was downloaded over three million times and was quite beloved but now many years later the team has finally finished turning it into its own standalone game. The finished product still has some clear similarities to Skyrim but it very much feels like its own thing now. You may not have heard of this game before but let me assure you that this time traveling adventure is one that you should absolutely not sleep on.
You play as someone who has been sent 2,000 years into the past to an ancient Roman community. This community operates under something called the Golden Rule which is not to be broken. Should it be broken by someone committing a crime then everyone will be turned to gold. As it turns out someone just might be planning to break the Golden Rule as you arrive and it’s up to you to find out who is going to do it before it happens. The whole game operates around a time loop where should someone break the rule you can travel back to when you first arrived and try again only you now retain your knowledge of what happened. The game has multiple endings that you can achieve depending on the choices you make throughout. I’ll just say that I was very pleased with the endings and felt the payoff was well rewarding.
The game revolves a lot around just exploring around and talking to people with only a little bit of action and combat here and there. That said, the writing is just fantastic throughout and I was hooked from beginning to end on just talking to people and figuring out how to solve their problems. Sometimes I would just stand or sit around and listen to conversations that the NPCs were having. It can also be quite fun to have conversations with the same characters that you already had in a prior loop only you already know what they are going to say which in turn opens up new dialog branches with them. There are tons of little side quests and things that you’ll pick up just from talking to people so much so that it can be a little daunting at first. When you do encounter the few times the game throws combat or traversal at you it can feel a little rough as this game clearly wasn’t built around that. Even so, it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game as these parts don’t overstay their welcome and I was able to get back to talking to people and basking in the fantastic writing soon enough.
Visually, The Forgotten City is a bit of a mixed bag as while the city and scenery can be quite a sight to take in many other things feel a little rough. Character animations and particularly facial expressions aren’t great and I would see details pop-in late as well as characters getting stuck on things occasionally. None of it is game breaking but they are just little things that brought me out of the experience a bit. With so much talking in the game you’ll be glad to know that the voice acting is pretty great throughout and the same goes for the soundtrack. The OST always felt like it matched what was going on in the moment whether it was something sad or serious and I always appreciate when a game does that. I want to talk more about this game but honestly, it’s one of those games that going in as blind as possible is the best way to go. I didn’t know much about it prior to playing it and I’m so thankful for that as it made the whole experience much more enjoyable.
The Forgotten City has successfully broken free from just being a Skyrim mod and came out as one of the sleeper hits of 2021. The time loop story is so interesting and full of interesting topics and characters that I just couldn’t stop thinking about while playing. It’s got some rough edges but fans of great storytelling and solving mysteries will not want to miss this one.
*The Forgotten City is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.