The Forgotten City - Living in Fear under the Golden Rule : Review

As I began the game, a mysterious young woman asked me to go find someone named “Al” in the ruins nearby. She was hesitant to give me her na...

As I began the game, a mysterious young woman asked me to go find someone named “Al” in the ruins nearby. She was hesitant to give me her name, but because I’m a sucker I promised her I’d help look for him. I wandered to the ruins and began to search. While I was investigating, the floor gave way under me and I fell into some sort of underground structure. Thankfully there was a pool and it caught my fall! I started to make my way out and into the city itself I began to notice that everything was in ruins; there clearly had been nobody here for many years. There were golden statues in various poses all over the place however I did not see any signs of life. Graffiti covered the walls here and there saying “They are always watching”. I thought this was just an environmental thing until I really began to pay attention to what was going around me. Statues - golden, unliving statues - were turning their heads to watch me as I moved past. Even though I wasn’t looking at them, I could hear the metal-on-metal grinding as they turned their heads when I walked by. Talk about some goosebumps! Voices whispered “Who are you?”, “Why are you here?”, “Can you hear me?” and even “Not much further”. The ominous music and occasional background rumble really started to get to me, forcing me to hesitate. Nobody told me this would be spooky, I’m not okay with spooky! I finally gathered the courage to continue down the linear path and made my way into a shrine, where there was a portal inside. Suddenly it was no longer night and I was no longer surrounded by ruins. I had stepped back in time 2,000 years to 1st Century AD. I had entered the Forgotten City.

What is it?  

The Forgotten City is a game that was spawned from a Skyrim-mod with over 3 million downloads. Heavily driven by narrative, the city operates with one rule - the Golden Rule;  “The many shall suffer for the sins of the one”. If anyone in the city commits a crime; be it theft, philandering, murder… even something as simple as harmful intent - everyone will die. Your goal is to meet and converse with each of the 23 characters, help them with their issues, maybe even find a way to escape. You might think this is simple but that is just not the case. Certain people can only be found at certain places, some are missing altogether or maybe you say something to anger someone and they won’t speak with you anymore. It’s a good thing that the core mechanic of the game is there -- the Time Loop. I never played Skyrim, so I went into this blindly only knowing it to be some kind of murder-mystery with a time aspect. Holy Batman, was I surprised! It’s so much more than that.



Everyone plays games different, it’s just who we are. Personally, I’m one of those people who wants to see and experience EVERYTHING the game has to offer. If the game directs me left, I’ll go right and find/do everything I can before returning to where it wants me to go. This worked to my detriment as I started Forgotten City. If you take one thing away from this review let it be this: When you begin your playthrough and Galerius asks you to join him to go see the Magistrate - do it. He gives a short explanation of who certain characters are, what’s going on with them and most importantly when you talk to the Magistrate the time loop aspect is covered. Instead, I wandered for 2-3 hours taking in the huge city, all the nooks & crannies, snooping in people’s personal belongings, mentally mapping out the city (There NEEDS to be a map), trying to move along the story without breaking the Golden Rule - and had no idea about time loops and how they worked. There were points in that first loop where I felt so incredibly bored and frustrated I nearly gave up. I’m SO glad I didn’t. To (hah) loop back to what I mentioned before- Once you loop in time, things drastically improve and the story begins to pick up pace. You get new tools to navigate the city. You retain all the knowledge of the conversations you’ve had previously, which help you guide conversations with those same people the second/third/fourth times around. People open up to you about things they wouldn’t previously. 

Each time the Golden Rule is broken, the timeline will reset to your first moments of arrival in the city; like Groundhog Day! Each successive time loop increases your likelihood of success as you build on the knowledge you’ve gained and areas you’ve explored. There was a point early on in which I was *convinced* there was a way I could talk myself out of a situation without the Golden Rule being broken, yet after I reloaded my save TEN TIMES I finally figured out that it was just part of the game to force you into a time loop. While the paths you choose, conversations you have, and order in which you have them are all your prerogative; I cannot emphasize enough it’s important to let the game help guide you. If a character mentions a place, you probably need to go there. Pay attention to your quests; they will help you move through each story section. If you can’t get a quest to advance, you probably need to finish something else or find something first. To maximize your experience you need to figure out the drive behind people - help them with their love stories, find out their secret histories, delve into their political machinations, share in their successes & failures, and so much more.

It’s also worth mentioning that the game has four endings. Three of the four close out the game’s story yet are very similar; where the fourth is considered the “canon” ending. The game is nice enough to let you know which ending it is when you get there. Ending one can be experienced very early on, ending two is about a quarter of the way into the game, ending three is about a third of the way in; but then there is a lot of legwork and puzzle solving to be done before you get to the final ending. If you’ve helped everyone you can and finished all your quests, ending number four is the most fulfilling. It really hit me in the feels. Do yourself a favor and stick it out to ending four. I found all four endings and did most of the legwork, including replaying parts and getting lost a few times, in about ten hours. 

That being said; It’s important to take advantage of the save system for both working your way through the story but also for achievements. There are certain events that once you finish them, you cannot go back within that playthrough. The game is liberal on its autosave but I always felt it better to manually save just before I made a major decision. When you begin the game you get to choose from one of four classes. I felt the archaeologist class gave the most insight and best conversation options, while the others really didn’t contribute to what you were trying to accomplish from the game. I will say that the soldier class made a specific achievement VERY easy. It’s important to note that the game has nearly no combat and centers completely around a story-driven experience.


I have very strong feelings both ways in regards to the game’s presentation. Forgotten City was made by three guys over the course of four years. This is their first game and for them not having made anything prior to this- the game is impressive. However there are moments that you can tell it is lacking polish.

Visually, the game is impressive. The city is gorgeous and it’s various environments are beautiful as well. The developers even went so far as to pull in experts to make sure that the different cultures in the environments (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian) were accurate. 

The voices are extremely well done, with a different voice actor for nearly each role. Each character had a distinct personality with a good story you could get into, but not too complicated to remember. The facial animations do not always keep up with what the character is voicing, lack expression, and sometimes if you look closely it appears they are staring off into the distance and not at your character.  Subtitles are also on by default which is awesome. 

The music is exceptional. The theme that plays when you first get into the game became one of my favorite pieces of music from Forgotten City. They did an amazing job matching the different music to the atmospheres. Nothing ever felt out of place and it truly pulled you into the world.

Functionally the game struggles. I thought the game looked fantastic, but even though I have an Xbox One X it really struggled at times. Some examples of technical issues I experienced in my time with the game: 

-If I used LT to sprint into an area, about 50% of the time the assets wouldn’t load when I got there and I’d walk into an empty room. 

-There were flaws in character logic, where I would be discussing or told about an event that I wouldn’t find out about until far later in gameplay. I also had a NPC spoil another character’s death for me.

-The magistrate asked me to execute someone, but they were already dead and I was unable to complete the quest so I had to force a time loop to reset it. 

-Ladders and other climbable objects are doughy, I wandered off one and died as often as I stayed on it.

-I pressed up once to utilize Photo Mode (built in) and popped an unrelated achievement for a story piece.

-The game has serious lighting issues in areas (most notable when the 45+ second save- see below- is happening), so while it offers different “filters” for artistic interest and photos, I had to actually swap to some of these just to be able to see in darker areas. 

On a nontechnical note I had some difficulties with certain things not being there at all. 

There was no map! After memorizing the layout of the city it was not as big of a deal, but it was very overwhelming at the start of the game.

The entire menu system as a whole did not function well. It lacked responsiveness and would move erratically up or down. The save system definitely could have benefitted from better management and descriptors. I always struggled to find the save I was looking for and the load times were always 60-90 seconds minimum. Also, whenever I did a manual save it would always try to save over the second most recent one, instead of the most recent. The game also randomly caused extremely heavy controller rumble when loading a save. 

There were random load screens between open areas and during quests, which disrupted the flow of gameplay. I timed them - they were 45 or more seconds. In the Diana questline I encountered at least 5 of them during the ‘experience’ and it greatly disjointed the feel of the event.

During my adventures I worked to uncover every available conversation option I could find or choose. Unfortunately, I also encountered multiple spelling and grammatical errors. They were jarring and disrupted the submersion of the game. This coupled with the menu system woes, created some frustration as you chat multiple times with every character. 

Speaking of, once you use an option to speak with someone, it greys out. This would be a helpful feature except as you moved through the game it would unintentionally hide new conversation options. That meant you’d have to go digging through grey options to try and advance a quest. This held up my progress a few times. It was rather tedious to converse with someone to see if there’s any new conversation options only to find no new paths had opened up.

I acknowledge that none of these were game-breaking, but they definitely did hamper the overall experience. 

Final Thoughts

I spent my time with Forgotten City and I encourage you to do the same. The game was constantly on my mind as I waited to play the next evening. The philosophical discussion of “What breaks the Golden Rule” was so fun to talk about and to toy with. If someone kills themselves, does that break the golden rule? What if I threaten to kill someone, but don’t really mean it? If I steal something and nobody knows, what then? Not only that, but you get invested in these people. They’ve done an excellent job building up characters and stories you want to see play out. Despite some of the mechanical and technical issues, I ended up really enjoying my playtime with Forgotten City and would recommend it. 


In my just over 10 hours with the game, I tallied 35 of the 40 “cheesemints” for a total of 880 gamerscore. Many of them, while missable, come naturally through the flow of the story. A few are for doing specific actions, and a few I have yet to discover. 

Game Information

Title: The Forgotten City


Developer: Modern Storyteller

Publisher: Modern Storyteller, Dear Villagers

Release Date: July 28th, 2021

Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5

Review platform: Xbox One X

Price at launch: $24.99-$29.99 Digital, depending on platform; $39.99 Physical

ESRB: T for Teen


About the Writer: Kyleia is an avid Xbox fan and achievement chaser. She has a love of all games with a burning passion for indies and nautical adventures. She can often be found streaming indie games, achievement hunts, building crafts, or sailing the seas on Destination Indie can be found on, or if you’re just looking to say “hi” you can find Lish at


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