With Forgotten Memories, Psychoz set out to deliver an experience that pays tribute to survival-horror classics, namely Silent Hill, while spooking the player with new thrills along the way. After spending some time with the game in the ideal environment (i.e. in the dark with headphones) it is clear to me that Psychoz met their goal of creating a truly creepy game.
Set in an abandoned asylum filled with dolls, mannequins, and plenty of candles, Forgotten Memories tasks the player with controlling a lady named Rose as she searches for a missing girl. The game didn’t really give me the motivation to care about Rose or even to care about the missing girl, but my innate instinct to want to get the hell out of this horribly ominous asylum was enough to propel me through the opening scenes of the game.
Equipped with only a slowly-dying flashlight, I set out to explore the asylum filled with monsters and puzzles.
Forgotten Memories’ controls are easy enough to grasp: left thumb for moving, right thumb for looking around. There is a button to engage combat mode, and a button to open up your inventory. To interact with objects you simply walk up to them and tap the center of the screen. All very straight forward.
I was enjoying slowly exploring the asylum, tension building with each footfall until, finally, a monster appeared. Then my enjoyment of Forgotten Memories started to fall apart.
I tried beating the shadowy specter with the steel pipe that was my only weapon at that point. My blows served to stagger the creature, but not by much. My strikes fell slow and heavy, making timing them awkward, leaving a lot of downtime in between whiffed swings. Eventually the monster took advantage of the downtime and leapt onto me. I had to clumsily shake my iPad up and down, vertically, in order to shake the monster off of me. I felt like an idiot sitting there shaking my iPad like that, and I wasn’t even out in public.
After dying twice to the shadow monster, I gave up trying to kill it and just ran by. Most of the monsters I encountered I was able to just run by, but in new areas you will get taken by surprise, simply because you don’t know what’s coming until it’s hacking you to bits. It seems as though this game was designed to be played with a controller rather than a touchscreen, because battling monsters is a chore. While there is a double-tap gesture which serves to re-center your camera, there is no gesture for quickly turning 180-degrees. When you’re fighting enemies that are hardly as high as your kneecaps, having to slide your finger around to find them is more of a pain than is should be.
Add to that a save system that is stuck in the past, and you have the makings of a frustrating experience.
Clearly inspired by the ink ribbons of Resident Evil, Psychoz forces players to find floppy disks in order to save their game. Players get one save per disk, so you’ll want to carefully plan out your saves. In a game where combat is unwieldy and clunky, having such a challenging save system in place just adds to the frustration. I was dying more than I should have because I couldn’t turn around and see what little dolly was hacking away at the back of my legs. So I’d die, and have to replay back up to that point, just to die a few moments later because a shadow monster came at me from a dark hallway.
Luckily, the puzzles in Forgotten Memories are not nearly as frustrating as the combat is. There are a wide variety of puzzles to figure out in the game. From simple ones like finding the right object to make something work, to more complex puzzles (like one which involved hanging bodies), I did get a sense of fulfillment when completing each puzzle.
As a whole, Forgotten Memories is designed really well, and it is very creepy with some neat puzzles. The game is only marred by clunky combat experiences and a stingy save system that is stuck in the 90’s.