With the urgency of an old man walking around every market stall, with no intention of purchasing anything, hands behind the back and all, I leisurely played through Forgotten Fields with all the time in the world.
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In a mad flurry to get the review put together in time for the release, I found that my saved games were no longer showing after an update, so had to restart. Not a bad thing, but a little opposite to my first playthrough, which was a much calmer pace. At least I could now earn achievements.
This game is superb. I’m a sucker for a good story, whether that be something believable or far-fetched like Titanic. Pfft! A ship that size hitting an iceberg and sinking? Do me a favour. But the storytelling here is often understated, showing, not telling.
You play Sid, an author who lives the life of any writer; isolation and borderline poverty. His apartment, which could be classed in the UK as a studio flat, a.k.a. shed, has just the bare minimum for survival, but when you spend most of your adventures in your head and commit that to the written word, all you need are your thoughts and a computer. Or a typewriter and box load of Tippex, hipster. Go back to your artisan coffee and let me finish my Ribena.
He’ll complete daily routines of speaking with the neighbours, pacing up and down his working space, hanging on to every word he writes without being remotely productive. On a personal note, I’m lucky not to have that issue with writing about games or other industries, but skimming the surface, pursuing an interest in screenwriting, Forgotten Fields was screaming at me from the page – err… screen.
There aren’t monsters to battle, mountains to climb or GTRs to pimp. There’s just such immense charm in the simplicity of things that watching Sid’s artistic (and moped) plight, I’d feel inspired by his surroundings and envious of his predicament.
Switching back and forth from his timeless rut, we’ll have a third-person perspective of the novel he’s writing as he thinks it up. A story about a mage who has lost her powers, we follow them every once in a while. With assets dropping down into the scenery as Sid imagines them, allowing us to move about each diorama with a fantasy setting, his interactions with friends and recollection of memories help fuel his own narrative.
I’m not going to get on all fours so that Frostwood Interactive and Dino Digital can stand on my back to get up on the pedestal, though. When it comes to moving Sid around, it was irritating as he would clip objects when not touching them. If you’re backtracking to a place, forget about sprinting, as you’ll inevitably bash into something and having to manoeuvre around it each time. It certainly wasn’t game-breaking, but it was like being teleported away into a movie setpiece as a spectator, then as soon as it’s silent, someone farts. Momentarily it makes you irritated, but it doesn’t take too long to get back into it.
I’d laugh at anything remotely like a fart, and while Forgotten Fields has many comical moments and doesn’t require intense focus, it’s a game that takes you away, losing all sense of the space you occupy and getting wrapped up in the story. In that respect, the movement side of things felt like being woken from a lucid dream, and you’re trying to go back to that moment.
And before that aftertaste dissipates, the first-person sections didn’t work for me at all. The viewpoint is nice, but the controls and number of disappearing artefacts which started as early as a stone-throwing event, had me bordering on bailing. I’m always an advocate that games can be patched in this day and age, and since getting the game early, it’s had numerous updates as the last one resolved my controller woes.
So yes, the collisions and first-person perspectives were my issues. Not enough to derail the game, but just pointing out that it’s well worth persevering. Bringing the tone back in alignment for the greater good, the camera work is marvellous – like a do’s and don’t of filmmaking.
Cameras would switch to high or low angles from a distance or relatively close up. Dialogue scenes would feel dynamic when characters were talking about the most monotonous themes. I don’t mean that as a derogative – actually, I found them very interesting. They’re real interactions with people; they aren’t caricatures but authentic conversations and made somewhat more of a dreamy dish with the added cinematography.
It was like many conversations and opinions were my own, least better written and more coherent. Bastardising one of the lines said between Sid and his cousin was about social media and how we aren’t designed to hear so many opinions all the time. That no one enjoys anything anymore – they’re just bashing it or defending it. I couldn’t agree more, and one of the reasons I dropped review scores and, despite my vulgar title, was so pleasant in my write-ups. Apart from fart anecdotes.
Rainswept was a story I really connected with and felt that it was superbly written. Though I liked the visuals, they weren’t my kind of thing, and the animation weakened a few areas. I didn’t like the addition of eyes to the 3D models in Forgotten Fields, making sure Sid wore Aviators at all times, the low-poly (ish) models are gorgeous, and the locations even better. There are cutscenes where Sid will travel on his moped, and I just wanted to be there. The nuances of a dog barking or train going past were sublime. Yes, I used that word about the ambience.
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So a bit of a gush fest, really. For me, Forgotten Fields was about the experience and how I felt during and after playing it. I can genuinely say it was inspirational. I’m up and down with bursts of creativity (regardless of how long that lasts), and the themes covered motivate me, as I’m sure it will with others. As for me, I still flirt with Lady Procrastinate. The minx.
The storytelling and overall vibe of Forgotten Fields is superior and outweighs the flaws, though I can’t help but mention how the clumsy collision and first-person perspectives pop the bubble a little too much. Still, you’ll have those friends that are really lovely but perhaps have an annoying quirk or feature that gets under your skin. Their friendship far surpasses this irritation, but that doesn’t mean you’re not aware of it. In short, I absolutely love Forgotten Fields, even if it has slightly smelly feet.