The Forgotten City Is Way More Than Just a Skyrim Mod (Hands-on Preview)

Ever since Modern Storyteller revealed that The Forgotten City, the award-winning Skyrim mod, would be remade into a standalone title back in 2018, I’ve been very interested in the game’s progress.

Like many others, I’ve always been a huge fan of Skyrim, as its vast world, characters, and storytelling still stands as some of the best in gaming even a decade later. And even though I never dived into its deep modding community, I was still aware of how popular The Forgotten City mod was, as it boasted a unique and exciting story that was part Groundhog Day, part Clue.

Still, the question remains: is this game worthy of being anything more than a mod? Thankfully, after playing a few hours of a preview build of The Forgotten City, I can safely say that it is. Not only that, but I also feel confident in stating that this game is not, in fact, Skyrim, and that is by no means a bad thing.

The Forgotten City opens in the modern-day, with your character being sent into a mysterious Roman ruin littered with golden statues to find a missing man. It isn’t long before you find him, though you learn he has become a victim of being turned into one of those statues, as you find out via his final letter.

Alongside his last words, it is also revealed that the only way to escape this place is to venture through a portal and try to stop something known as The Golden Rule from occurring here 2,000 years in the past. With no other choice but to push forward, your character is transported into this time period to complete this task.

As soon as I arrived in The Forgotten City, I was greeted by a helpful citizen named Galerius. After a bit of back and forth, I not only got to know the character but was also given a bit more context into the situation at hand.

Though I was the only one sent from the future, everyone else in The Forgotten City also found themselves arriving here under mysterious circumstances and were unable to leave. Anytime someone did, The Golden Rule prevented their escape, turning them into gold as punishment.

And while the exact guidelines of this rule weren’t all too clear at the get-go, there were plenty of breadcrumbs laced throughout the preview that helped unravel bits of the mystery little by little. I eventually was led to the head of the community, Magistrate Sentius.

After a bit of conversation, I learned that The Golden Rule is something that is put in place by a God to keep members of this community from committing sins. What exactly counts as a sin, outside of the obvious, is a common topic of debate.

Would suicide count as a sin, even though it only harmed yourself and not others? If people were to die because of a single person, is that not a justifiable reason to kill them before they do it? These are a few of the questions this community lives in fear of, as no one dares test the answers for fear of being turned to gold.

Despite this fear, Sentius knows that someone will violate The Golden Rule at some point soon, dooming the entire community as a result. According to him, the only way to stop it is to find whoever will commit it and kill them. Considering that murder violates this rule, though, your character has to find a way to stop the perpetrator without killing them.

This can only be accomplished by understanding the characters and inner workings of the setting, which comes by way of conversing with all of its citizens. For example, solving a doctor’s questline leads you to a character that gives you another questline that gives you a bow.

With a bow, you can now venture into an area that would otherwise mean the death of your character. Continuing along these quests will present you with new areas, conversations, and quests that help progress the story.

It’s this mysterious, narrative-driven element that helps propel The Forgotten City out of Skyrim’s shadow. While there is no doubt the games do look similar, The Forgotten City’s focus revolves around talking to people, gathering clues, and making choices.

The Forgotten City

While Skyrim definitely has plenty of interesting choices that would alter the story, it is far more focused on combat. The Forgotten City is the complete inverse, throwing in combat here and there to further the narrative.

Alas, it wouldn’t be a mystery game if there wasn’t a monkey wrench thrown in to try and stir things up. Right when I thought I was getting somewhere in the game, something occurred that activated The Golden Rule that I couldn’t stop. As soon as it did, statues came to life and began killing everyone around me.

The only way to right this wrong was by running back through the same portal I arrived through. In doing so, I was set right back to where I began. Luckily, all of my memories were intact.

The people around me weren’t as fortunate, as they were reset to the first time I went through. This meant I was the only one able to use this power.

This situation provides your character with an interesting gameplay element, unlocking dialogue options and situations that were previous locked without the blessing of hindsight. Thanks to this ability, I was able to avoid the trap that set off the Golden Rule last time, allowing me to progress further in the game’s massive story. And when I say that this game is big, I’m not exaggerating.

In this preview build alone, there were 28 different quests and four different endings. And even with all of that content, I was simply left wanting to know more by the end of the preview.

The Forgotten City’s conversation-focused gameplay sunk its teeth into me pretty quickly, making me completely forget that this game had anything to do with Skyrim. I honestly can’t wait to unravel the mystery even further when it comes out on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PS5 on July 28.


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