Review: The Forgotten City

  • Release date: 28th July 2021
  • Platform Played: Xbox Series S
  • Completion: All four endings

The Forgotten City stars off with the worst part of the game, with some poor writing which includes a really dumb Karen joke. It gives a sour taste to the start of the game but thankfully the choice of name actually ends up becoming an interesting twist, but it’s a bad way to date your game at the very start.

This Karen has saved you from a river, and asks you to find someone called Al. Coming across some ruins, you fall down a large drop into a hidden ancient city, filled with gold statues of people, except these statues look like people frozen in time. Entering a portal, you end up hurled back in time around 2000 years into a mysterious ancient city.

The city has what the inhabitants call “The Golden Rule”. If any one person commits a sin, everyone will be wiped out (by some kind of god, the people there disagree on which one). Some inhabitants think this is just a way for the magistrate to control the people. The Magistrate knows (based on your appearance) that someone will break The Golden Rule within the next day, as he’s discovered a ritual that allows him to reset time.

In order to return to your own timeline, you are told that you have to stop this sin from being committed. While there is some combat in this game, the majority of the game is talking to people, discovering their history, motives and plans, as well as figuring out the puzzle of how the city works. If you fail, you have to rush back to the portal and start the day again, regaining your knowledge and any items you have collected.

Unlike The Outer Wilds, another time loop game, The Forgotten City doesn’t run on a clock, events happen by you triggering them (often by walking to the location where they happen), which gives the game a very relaxed feel for the most part, as you don’t need to rush around. One other thing which is extremely handy is that as you complete tasks, you can tell the first person you meet each day to do a load of stuff for you, so you aren’t constantly repeating the same things and can focus entirely on unravelling more of the mystery.

The writing (other than the one section at the start) is great, the 23 residents are mostly interesting (there are a couple that don’t do much) and it’s very satisfying learning how to manipulate events. I recently played Twelve Minutes, which is another dialogue-heavy time loop game, and in that it was a constant frustration that I couldn’t try any ideas or ask the questions I wanted due to the game’s limitations, but in The Forgotten City it seemed like most things I wanted to ask were there, and one crazy idea I had actually led to one of the game’s endings (there are four in total, although you really should aim to discover them all).

The Forgotten City has a very interesting mystery, with lots of great revelations and discoveries throughout, and a conclusion I was very satisfied with.

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