The Forgotten: It Begins...
First posted on 31 July 2000. Last updated on 09 August 2009.
People have long (in the computing timescale) suggested that adventure games can be released in a serial manner, a chapter at a time. It is a bit different from releasing a complete game, then a sequel that continues the story. With this approach, each installment is small and dependent upon the rest of the series for its storyline. The advantage is that each individual chapter can be released relatively inexpensive. The Forgotten is a series that attempts to take advantage of this marketing strategy. The Forgotten: It Begins... is the first chapter.
Great beings have once ruled the earth, until they are exiled and Man comes to rule. These ancients still influence Man by creating objects of great power and giving them to people, for good or evil. The people who possess these artifacts are The Collectors. If a person uses an artifact too much, they are in turn collected by the ancients. Amelia is one such collected person, and Richard Haliburton is another Collector who is willing to go to Hell to get her back. He needs your help to retrieve some magic cards for him. He claims to be your friend, but you have no memory of him, yourself, or anything.
The game uses a standard first person, 360° view from fixed spots onto pre-rendered 3D backgrounds. The panoramic views are displayed using QuickTime VR. Standard sound effects and music are used to add to the ambience. They are well done as are most games today, but nothing particularly stands out.
There are 2 inventories—the first for your objects and the second for your collection of cards. Both allow a few items to be readily accessible from the main playing screen, while the rest have to be accessed through a separate inventory screen. In this chapter, there are few enough objects that you only have to reorganize your inventory a few times. DreamCatcher Interactive claims that This game is a planned 7 part adventure series. The remaining 6 chapters, namely The Forgotten II to VII, are titled The Collection, The Anasazi, The Hotel, Thibedeaux's Curse, The Collectors, and The End Game.
Although the premise of the story sounds good, it is pretty much all done in the intro and irrelevant to the game itself. You mostly just wander about a New Orleans hotel, in its rundown present and glorious 1930s heyday, where you learn of a mysterious character and catch some whiffs of some supernatural shenanigans involving the Romanovs. There is nothing to bring your character into the story. The hotel is empty, both in the present and in the past. There is no connection between you and Richard. Some of this may have been explained away as a mysterious start to the story, but there is little motivation to go to next chapter without an inspiring start that can grab your attention.
There is almost nothing active to do in this game. You run around reading notes, finding keys, and opening locks with them. The big paradigm shift comes when you have to put a record into a gramophone instead of a key in a lock.
There is a single puzzle, a Rubik style door lock, which you have to solve by brute trial and error. It is the toughest part of the game but should only take you less than a minute! Unfortunately, this is also among the few mimesis breakers in the game—that is, it is a puzzle which is not a natural part of the game world. The story is vague and muddled. It suggests big, interesting events, involving famous historical people, but nothing ever really happens. There is almost no game here at all; picking up a key and inserting it into a lock does not qualify as "gameplay".
Unless future installments develop a good, coherent story, the game The Forgotten: It Begins... is best forgotten.