The Forest Quartet, published by Bedtime Digital Games, is a simple puzzle adventure game with a heavy emphasis on music. The game is simple, and the puzzles are fun. But the game’s main draw will be its music and mood. The Forest Quartet is very much a mood piece of a video game to enter a zen-like trans as the short game flows through. The game is about a washed-up music band named the “The Forest Quartet” coming together. As the title implies, it is about a band of four, but we have only three band members visible in the game.
As the game starts, the player takes control of an unknown muse as someone travelling through these atmospheric and beautiful places. All this is to get the band back together. The gameplay and puzzles reflect the band member there. The atmosphere and mood shift well too. The music and sound of the game are well done. Even though I did not find most of the tracks too interesting, they fit perfectly into the game. The game itself is pretty short, with the story taking around one and a half to complete.
Story – Simple and effective
The story is one of the main aspects of the game. But it is not much. The story is simple and effective. The game is more guided by its themes of band members. We start off as this glowing muse in the forest. As the player, one navigates through the world and solves the puzzles of the game. These puzzles and worlds are inspired by how the band member is. The story is about getting the band back together for a small concert. They are away from each other and seemingly have barely met after they broke away for some reason.
The storytelling is punctuated with a dialogue between the band between the puzzles. This dialogue seems to be coming from some interviews from some time before and is not specified. This is followed by cutscenes which showcase the band in some moments. But most of the story of the game is through dialogue.
Themes and Atmosphere
This is where the actual story takes place. These interpretations are my own and can be taken differently if one feels so. As the game is dependent on its atmosphere, the interpretations are the main part of the story. As the player, one will navigate through the area, solving puzzles as this musical muse. Each band member has an underlying theme, whether it be depression, anxiety or anger. Their puzzles reflect that, along with how the world looks. For example, the first band member is depressed; the game reflects that, as seen below. The puzzles are centred around removing the clouds of this depression.
As it proceeds, there are the worlds of anxiety. This is because the band member is seen to be suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. The puzzles for the band member are dark, and the main goal of these levels is to light up the world. This is beautiful to watch as the world lights up, showing how the character reacts as we light up his world.
I am not going to spoil the final world, but in my opinion, it is the most visually beautiful. The game building on these themes is seen across the story. The musical muse, at first, feels just like the representation of the world of each band member. But as the game plays on, it can be seen that the muse is clearly making a huge impact on how the band meet back together. There are some more parts to the story. Other than the band just getting together, it would be spoilers, and honestly, it is not much.
Gameplay – Basic and Musical
The game is simple. There are puzzles across each of the worlds, and all the gameplay is simple. Each of the worlds has its own sets of puzzles, but they never really go into too much complexity. The first world is all about finding and carrying things in order to solve them. The second world is about remembering patterns and is the best in terms of puzzles. The third world is about finding switches nearby to open new spaces and finding switches. That’s all there to it. In later stages, there is a combination of these mechanics, which are pretty fun, but it is very late in the game, and there is not much to it.
In the end, the puzzles’ main function is activating them. This is done by musically vibrating, which activates the puzzles. This function can also to used to light up the path to a puzzle. So, it is a simple gameplay system that does not overstay its welcome. The simple gameplay fits with the mood and tone of the story and graphics.
Graphics and Sound – Beautiful and Atmospheric
The UI for The Forest Quartet is simple and pleasant. The game’s options menu has the basics in terms of Volume, brightness, language, and graphics. The game does support fourteen different languages, which is really impressive. But the UI for the game is simple and works well enough for the game.
The game does look beautiful with its painted art style. The lighting across the game really elevates how the game looks. The way that the world of the game lights up in parts is really well done and helps greatly with the variation.
As a game about a bunch of band members, the music is what drives the game. The music is very mellow. It is not showy or bombastic, but it does not need to be. The sombre music and its flow carry it through. There is one song in the entire game, and it is pretty good. For me personally, the music felt very diegetic. I like it, fair enough, but it is not music I would go out of my way to listen to. If one likes this style, it may hit harder as the game is played.
The key for The Forest Quartet was provided by Bedtime Digital Games.