You are traveling throughout the lands of Skyrim, doing Dovakiin-like things, when a Courier tracks you down. He hands you a letter, complete with a voice-reading, from a woman named Cassia, whose brother is missing inside some Dwemer (Dwarven) ruins. She promises “riches beyond your imagining”.
Thus starts the adventure called “The Forgotten City”.
“The Forgotten City” is a time-traveling, murder-mystery mod for The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim game (my version was downloaded for PC). Once you receive Cassia’s letter, you head roughly southwest of Markath to the site of the mentioned ruins. After chatting with Cassia, you jump down a very deep hole, follow the path out, and enter the charred wreckage of a Dwarven city. After spotting a hanging body and his apparent suicide note, you make your way to a house on the opposite end of a lake, find a note (asking for help, by going back in time via a portal)… and that’s where the fun begins.
Your main task is to find out what caused the devastation in the ruins. Once you step through the portal, you are 7 years in the past… and the ruins are now populated with people of various backstories, personalities, and possible motives. The people living in the ruins are ruled by Jarl Metellus but are ‘ruled’ by the “Dwarves’ Law”: “The Many Shall Suffer For The Sins Of The One.” Be very careful what you do while in these ruins. While trying to solve the mystery of the charred ruins in the present, plus trying to find Cassia’s brother, you can talk to any and all of the townspeople, picking up gossip, stories, and even quests to do.
There is an element of time-hopping. If you have played, or are familiar with, “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask”, “The Forgotten City” has elements in it that are similar. You will have to do a few things, pick up something (or somethings) then go back to the “present”, ‘restart’ by entering the portal to the “past” again, and continue on whatever mission or quest you were on. It’s fun, occasionally aggravating, new element to Skyrim.
Combat is fairly standard; without giving away a few plot lines, you won’t have to change your fighting styles much… unless you instigate “something.” One thing that you WILL have to adjust to: there are NO quest markers, except for one ‘certain’ occasion (I can’t say what). You will have to rely on your map, your journal, and your knowledge of the characters to get around.
I haven’t run across many new or unique weapons yet, but I have picked up some new and essential armor. I’ll have to explore more on my next go-around to see what I can find.
There are at least 2 new ‘dungeons’ in this mod: the Abandoned Palace and, technically, the Underground Tunnels. The Palace has a puzzle at the beginning and some not-as-easy-as they-look creatures to fight. There is also a nasty boss fight. If you play as a stealth-based Archer/Swordsman, like me, you will do a lot of backpedal-shooting. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake that I did and go in with less than 30 arrows, or you will have to rely on magic and swordplay much more than you would like. As for the Tunnels, there are only a few unique creatures and one boss creature… if you make it past the entrance. I’d suggest going in there only if you have the ‘right’ protection. There is possibly a 3rd dungeon involving “Dooley’s Quest”; I did not find the starting point for it.
There are many different possible endings to this story, based on what you’ve done in-game before starting (I entered at level 14, having done nothing in the Civil War story, little in the Dragons’ story, and having mainly focused on side quests and town quests) and actions and responses while in the “past”. I’ve gotten 1 ending, so far – apparently, it was one of the “better” endings, but will replay it sometime soon, to see what I missed the first time (which was probably a lot).
“The Forgotten City” boasts over 1,200 lines of new dialogue, from 18 different voice actors, as well as a pretty nice (and sometimes eerie) soundtrack. If you hear Track #1, for example, “things are about to get real”. 😉
It’s not a terribly long mod – you could probably finish it in one 2-5 hour sitting – but it is an engaging one. You’ll find yourself rooting for this character, wanting to put an arrow between the eyes of that character, or becoming very wary of the character standing in the back of the tavern. Some characters are not what they seem, so be a little careful about first impressions.
- Interesting back stories on a lot of the characters, as well as interesting attitudes, dialogue, and voices (except for Rylak – his voice makes me want to punch him out of pure spite)
- Unique story , with a cool time-traveling concept
- The investigation portions were interesting to me
- The soundtrack and Dwemer architecture are pretty awesome
- Nowhere to buy ‘basic’ items, like arrows; this is a minor complaint, considering why this is
- No quest markers meant a LOT of wandering around, trying to catch this or that character
- Once you go in, there’s not a way out until the end
I enjoyed my first play-through of my first playable mod or DLC. “The Forgotten City” is a good mix of story, sights, sounds, and concepts – hats off to the developers!