A few months back, I left my family home to move in with my girlfriend. University was over, the pandemic was leaving a trail of misery in its wake, and I was spiralling into depression faster than it took CD Projekt Red to become the next Bioware. It made sense to uproot my life and try something new, if only to pull me out of a rut. Unfortunately, while making such a huge shift in my life was beneficial, it left behind a legacy of rose-tinted nostalgia. My life has been consumed by rejoicing in an unkind past. It has left me with an insatiable need to cling to the past. Overcoming that has been overwhelming, but slowly I find myself looking forward. Forgotten Fields offers a narrative so poignantly perfect that it left me simultaneously longing for the past and resolute in my decision to move on.
Forgotten Fields has possibly one of the most insightful and heart-warming narratives I’ve experienced in a video game. It tells the story of Sid, a novelist who is trying to think of an idea for his next novel. Finding himself uninspired, he agrees to travel back home to see his family home for the last time. Through the conversations he has with his family and his experiences along the way, he slowly pieces together his next idea.
“Forgotten Fields perfectly encapsulates the feelings of wanting to recapture your youth, to reclaim the freeing feelings of irresponsible adolescence.”
There is something truly special about Forgotten Fields’ narrative. It is a beautifully written story with fantastically profound prose and distinctively unique dialogue. But more than that, it is the way it portrays the passing of time and the deeply saddening effect it can have on a person. Forgotten Fields explores the concept of mono no aware, the idea of the beauty in the fleeting and the passing. It perfectly encapsulates the feelings of wanting to recapture your youth, to reclaim the freeing feelings of irresponsible adolescence. Sid’s journey is extremely relatable. This is not only because I can closely identify with the struggling novelist side of his character, but simply because of his human desire to keep things the way they were. It is a beautiful and touching narrative and one that I will fondly remember.
Forgotten Fields attempts at telling a dual narrative work for the most part, but I often felt hindered regardless. While the parallels between Sid’s life and his new novel felt profound, especially towards the latter half of the narrative, the decision to have me act out certain scenes from the novel got in my way of enjoying a more grounded story. It is not that the more fantastical sections are any less interesting from a narrative standpoint. I just felt that they detracted from the central narrative. Had elements of that magic realism been sprinkled within the central narrative, as opposed to being sections of their own, then the core focus would remain unperturbed. Unfortunately, while poignant, these sections do little more than muddy a brilliant story.
“Whenever it scales back its ambition and features more dioramic locations, Forgotten Fields looks genuinely incredible.”
Visually Forgotten Fields is a mixed bag. That’s not to say that it is visually unappealing. However, its delightfully warm and charismatic art style is all over the place. At times, it is vibrant and inviting, complementing the narrative in creating this beautiful world of magic realism. It can help bring the world to life distinctly and uniquely, offering up an almost fantastical and cartoony perspective on life. On the other hand, while some scenes can be detailed to the point of perfection, other locations feel sparse and barren. The visuals take a noticeable nosedive during the fantasy sections. Specific locations lack the detail and polish needed to bring them to life. Animations are choppy and inconsistent, and the character models look completely devoid of life.
Yet, despite all of this, there are so many moments where Forgotten Field’s art style works. These make it all too easy to forget when they don’t. Whenever it scales back its ambition and features more dioramic locations, Forgotten Fields looks genuinely incredible. There are so many moments of unparalleled beauty; moments that made me hesitant to move on; moments that made me stop just to bask and reflect like Narcissus at his own reflection. I wanted to exist within these spaces, to stay with these characters just a little longer, to explore the sprawling fields and luscious beaches for a moment or two more. True, it is a shame when ripples interrupt this reflection of beauty. But when Forgotten Fields is left undisturbed, it can be a truly gorgeous game.
“While I’ve been overly critical about certain aspects of the game, I must impress on you the greatness and importance of Forgotten Fields narrative.”
While the majority of the game is narrative-focused, there are moments of gameplay sprinkled throughout. These include a segment in which you must fix your bike; there is one in which you must push a boat out to sea; another where you try and knock a ball out of a tree. They’re mostly monotonous and serve only to make you feel a little more involved in the overall narrative. Unfortunately, I felt that they were really not that interesting and actively detracted from my overall experience. They feel unpolished and are often far too long. I often wanted to try and skip through them as quickly as possible. While not all of the gameplay segments are terrible, those that were, impeded my progression and enjoyment of the narrative.
While I’ve been overly critical about certain aspects of the game, I must impress on you the greatness and importance of Forgotten Fields narrative. It may be buggy at times, and the visuals may not always impress, but when Forgotten Fields finished, I found myself pondering on the past, my remorse for the events of yesteryear, and my optimism for the future. A game that can make you think and reflect is not only an essential play in my eyes but continues to push video games closer towards art than entertainment. If that sounds like a bad thing to you, then Forgotten Fields may not be for you. But for those who want a contemplative, thoughtful and insightful video game, then Forgotten Fields is a must-play.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC. The publisher provided the code.