I know some may think what I’m about to say is sycophantic, but writing can be a very difficult task. No matter what type of media you write for, sometimes you just cannot get your thoughts down on paper—or worse, can’t formulate what you want to say in your head. Most of the time, for me, it’s sheer procrastination. Forgotten Fields puts us in the shoes of someone experiencing just this, a fiction writer named Sid who just can’t put together the synopsis of his upcoming book for a funding bid. Forgotten Fields is developed by Goa-based Armaan Sandhu’s Frostwood Interactive and published by Mumbai-based Dino Digital.
First, let’s talk about the story. Sid is a fiction author pursuing funding for his next book after his recent successful release. However, Sid just cannot formulate a story that isn’t riddled with cliches and derivatives. He is then informed by a friend that his mother his holding a dinner party to celebrate her move from Sid’s family home. Initially apprehensive, Sid departs on his journey home with stops along the way, all the while drawing inspiration from his surroundings, friends, and family for his book. These experiences often mirror his coming to terms with getting older and moving on from his childhood/adolescent comforts, as well as prior romantic relationships.
Maybe it’s current circumstances of mine, but I felt connected with the journey Sid was going through and could identify his situation with my own. I felt a lot of emotion over the course of the story, which really shows the quality of the writing here—video game stories don’t often strike home with me like this. Sid can be slightly obtuse and self-inflicting in terms of his own worries, but I identified with that and I understood him. All of the characters were likeable and characteristically distinct even after a short time with them; many of them reminded me of friends in my current social circle, furthering the narrative resonation. The game also made me laugh at points, with Sid and his friends’ often dry humour making me laugh, especially a story told later in the game regarding Ajay’s love confession to his current girlfriend. The combination of the heartfelt story of growing up and the wholesome comedy was a really pleasant and heart-warming experience.
I feel that if you are in your 20s, this story may resonate with you as well. Perhaps my current situation has influenced my perspective of the story, but I stand by the story being very well-written and engaging as a result of the identification of common hurdles many young adults have to face as they transition into “grown up life.” Frostwood eloquently worked in these tribulations without it feeling contrived or in a “How do you do fellow millennials?” kind of way. Sid uses these concepts as a way to develop the story of his new book, such as visiting his childhood home, which he represents in his story as a paradise separate from time. It’s a place where you can distance yourself from your troubles for a while before re-entering your life right where you left off.
The gameplay is relatively simple but has some fun mechanics sprinkled in. As such, the gameplay doesn’t merely feel like a vehicle to deliver the story. You control Sid from an up-high camera angle perspective, which moves depending on where Sid is in the area. There are times where you can get lost behind some terrain or get stuck on assets, but I found this to be minimal and concentrated mainly at Ethan’s home, the first place you visit after taking off on your moped. That being said, the movement is smooth. Sid has access to an inventory system where he can store items needed to progress, almost in a point and click format. This is first introduced by needing to maintain Sid’s moped before he can leave. At the points when you are required to perform a task, there can be multiple ways of achieving it, some with funny results such as when you need to retrieve some blown away laundry and one of the sheets being stuck on a nearby cow. Now, there is a swimming segment of the game which takes place at the beach, and it doesn’t work very well. It’s a struggle to keep Sid’s head above water to know where you are or find your way back to shore when you’re done. He won’t drown, but it’s still irksome to find your way back.
Graphically, the game is rather impressive. I found that the camera angle may have been a stylistic choice by Frostwood, as the minimalist cell-shaded art style is most appealing from a distance, particularly the character models. These models look fine from the usual perspective, but can feel pretty static and lifeless up close. This is most notable during a first person flashback with Sid and his friends bantering back and forth in a car where you can get a closeup view of the character models. I think the characters would really benefit from some idle animations to make them feel more alive. Occasionally, the characters also appear to break their necks when talking to people who are lower down than them, as they don’t shift their bodies to address them, just sharply look down. Now, the terrain of the game looks absolutely gorgeous at times. With the game being set in India, the game has this overall warm feeling to it with the choice of lighting and terrain colour palette enhancing the cosy feel.
The soundtrack is also enjoyable. The music is composed by micAmic, who did a great job putting together a fitting soundtrack for the themes and feel of the game. The sound design as well is surprisingly good. Some effects, most notably the cooking sounds and tea-making sounds, sound authentically recorded in someone’s kitchen, and just add to the warm, inviting feel that Frostwood are striving for.
Forgotten Fields is a very charming, warm game that I highly recommend. If you’re looking for an inspiring, emotional, and heart-warming story with personality-filled characters and humorous writing, it’s here in spades. The minimalist but stylised graphics are very appealing, though the character models do need some improvement and some idle animations would be appreciated. The gameplay has some fun quirks but is quite simple overall, with some intuitive issues such as getting stuck on terrain, but those are very easily overlooked. I, personally, am now considering picking up Frostwood’s first release, Rainswept, as I enjoyed Forgotten Fields so thoroughly. It’s also nice to support an independent creator who clearly has a passion for well-written narratives and emotionally-driven themes.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review]