3-Fold Games‘ debut title covers the debilitating condition of dementia within a game experience. Dubbed a “narrative exploration,” players use bits and pieces of an afflicted woman’s life to tell a story of love, loss, and living on. This experience is akin to thought-provoking titles surrounding health issues like That Dragon, Cancer and Firewatch.
Story – Forgive and Forget
Before I Forget drops you into a very big, affluent apartment that hides a secret. The ephemera scattered throughout the rooms and halls of the home are the building blocks that flesh out the characters involved in the story.
The game successfully fleshes out its characters despite never seeing them onscreen. It used story and narrative design to capture moments of pain that felt palpable and real. Simple tasks, like putting on the kettle or sitting at the computer become melancholy moments where you lose all track of time. Sudden jump cuts as you try to navigate through the space evoke feelings of discouragement. Frustration and confusion are key elements of some sections of gameplay. This helps mirror the very real complications that come with a degenerative disease. I felt that this even gave the encounters a horror edge.
While we do get a lot of information about our protagonist, I did find myself wanting more. Specifically, I wanted to understand more about Suni’s story, especially between her childhood start into cosmology and before she met the love of her life. The sequences where she would go stargazing with Leela Auntie are touching and effectively plays out the cosmology theme. Suni is a very interesting and successful character, and more details establishing her identity before her life with Dylan would be a great addition. I felt that all throughout the game, the story was built up piece by piece but became a bit heavy-handed in its conclusion. However, the journey to get to the end was lovely.
Before I Forget is a story that is a lesson about the terrifying condition of dementia. It also spins a tale of forgiveness, as Suni’s intersecting memories of life with Dylan spell out a love story that was not perfect but was beautiful all the same. The game, which takes around an hour to complete, is able to give both snapshots and a lifetime in a single experience.
Gameplay – Walk Click Walk
If this was a detective game, then the first and most important mission is to find Dylan – clearly someone important to Suni. To unravel this mystery, players must wander through the apartment and understand what is going on. Before I Forget can be called a walking simulator, but the extent of the gameplay goes into how much you sleuth around the house. You can invest a good amount of time opening drawers and investigating the various notes left behind by ambiguous authors. Which were written by Suni herself, and which ones can from people in her life? This becomes part of the puzzle.
There are no diegetic puzzles in the game. The flashback star-finding sequences may be the closest you can get, but the real puzzle is the timeline of the little flashbacks and details that you encounter. The assignment is to traverse through time and connecting the dots in order to fill in the gaps in Suni’s memories. There is a great amount of detail to be found throughout the world of Before I Forget, and most of these parts contribute something concrete to the story. While I did experience moments where I didn’t know what to do next, it didn’t take long for me to figure out how to progress.
Audio and Graphics – Filling out a Canvas
As you walk through Suni and Dylan’s home, you will find the washed-out home devoid of color and life. However, as you uncover these memories, you fill out the scenes with more and more color. This is a brilliant move to keep the art relevant to the story as the player progresses through the narrative. Dreary, hallucinated scenes become more grounded in reality, allowing players to fill in spaces in the mystery.
The graphics were able to fulfill the balance of highlighting important information in the game world. The lack of detail plays off the incredibly detailed sections of the game and practically moves the player forward. The graphics are simple, but they get the job done creating an uncanny space for players to traverse.
While music is a key part of Suni’s life, the sound design had something lacking. The voice acting for all the characters was well done, and the soundtrack was appropriate for the scenes. Bach’s Goldberg Variations makes an appearance in the game, but the game didn’t seem to take advantage of the crescendo of the moment. A more memorable soundtrack would greatly improve the experience and highlight the running musical theme in the game.
Before I Forget was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a key provided by Nerd Pirates.