The Forgotten: It Begins

1999 Ransom Interactive
Designed by Troyan Turner, Kevin Willis, Chris Robinson
Reviewed 2000 April 27

Rating -5 Linearity straight
Reasonability deductive Connectivity minimal
Difficulty easy Relevance moderate
Interface 1st 360 simple Real-time none

An unfamiliar man is connected to the higher powers of reality, and has run afoul of some of the nastier of those powers. You have to help him by gathering certain objects of power -- specially made cards. He's not the only human cognoscenti, though, and you'll learn a bit about some of the others, including some historical figures. The cards allow you to travel into the past, and most of the game is spent in a 1930s New Orleans hotel.

It's not specified why you're helping, or why you were chosen. It's not even that clear what the goals are, other than "find some cards". While there are some potentially interesting characters that you will read about, they're not relevant to you or your quest. This leaves no sense of intrigue, and the emptiness of the hotel does nothing to encourage suspense. All you get are a few hints of a great conflict, but no understanding of it, nor part in it.

Most of the player actions consist of using a key (or equivalent) in a lock. There are only a few true challenges, and those are dead simple. A couple are uninspired, stand-alone puzzles. That leaves only a couple of situational problems, both of which are too simple to be creative. To top it off, the game is completely linear. Taken all together, there's no game here, just a maze to run through.

At least it's a pretty maze. The dingy parts are dingy, and the ritzy locations are ritzy. The game engine is decent, although the inventory is a bit awkward. The artists and programmers did their part.

A scant, muddled story and an almost complete absence of gameplay leaves me with nothing to recommend. If later installments of the series get better, it might be worth running through this one to get the story straight, but on its own it's not worth fighting with the jewel-case wrapping.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.