Before I Forget might be one of the few games that I spent longer actually reviewing then playing, but that doesn't mean it didn't leave a profound impact on me. Nominated for a BAFTA award in the Game Beyond Entertainment category, the title explores the struggles of living with dementia and it works to illustrate the sense of isolation felt from sufferers. Before I Forget previously launched on PC in July 2020, but it has now arrived on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, giving a whole new audience a chance to experience its excellence.
The entirety of Before I Forget is designed to be played in just one sitting, which took me roughly one hour (I still didn't manage to get all the Achievements on Xbox, however). The game sees you step into the shoes of Sunita, a woman who is struggling to remember even the most basic of details due to suffering from dementia. Throughout the story, there are two mysteries that you essentially work to solve by exploring Sunita's home and interacting with various objects. The first is about what her previous life was like before being afflicted by this illness and the second is about her husband Dylan, who is nowhere to be seen.
Obviously, I don't want to spoil the story for you, but what I will say is that I found Sunita's present reality to be even more heart-breaking as I clawed further into her past life. Realising that she had gone from an accomplished doctor to an isolated and unwell lady who couldn't even locate the bathroom was a sad reality and really worked to highlight the severity of the illness. I was impressed too by its method of storytelling. The game's message hits hard and is executed effectively, despite you not interacting with any other characters and with the bulk of the dialogue taking place purely within the protagonist's mind.
As well as moving from room to room and interacting with objects there are also some light puzzle sections. These see you gazing through a telescope to find constellations in the night sky with your niece in India by following a few simple instructions. They are by no means challenging and you're not going to find yourself stuck, but they do provide another means of detailing just how far Sunita has become removed from her past self. Personally I would have liked to have seen more of these moments, but I appreciate the developer's desire to keep things short and sweet and deliver an impactful experience in a brief period.
Instead of opting for a more realistic look like Gone Home, for example, the game has a colourful animated visual style, which I felt helped to give it its own identity. I loved how music and environmental effects are used here to help further immerse the player into the game. Instead of the game breaking immersion and simply telling you where to go, you'll often hear sounds like a grand piano playing and a phone ringing that point you in the right direction of the room that you'll need to explore next. I loved how the paint would appear faded and patchy on the walls to help mirror Sunita's struggle to grasp her memories.
With it only requiring a minor investment in terms of time and expense (it's currently £6.69 on consoles), I would wholeheartedly recommend that you check out Before I Forget. The game's story is able to effectively convey the struggles of living with dementia in many intelligent ways and it doesn't overstay its welcome being just one-hour long. That said, if you're not a fan of 'walking simulator' titles like Gone Home or What Remains of Edith Finch, then I don't think this does anything too drastically different that's going to win you over.
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