“We must make haste then, not only because we are daily nearer death, but also because the conception of things and the understanding of them cease first.” – Marcus Aurelius
Developer: 3-Fold Games
Released: 16th July 2020
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Available on: Steam, itch.io, Humble Original
Before I Forget is a short, narrative exploration game in which players step into the world of Sunita – a woman living with early-onset dementia. Wandering from room to room, she examines faded postcards, scribbled notes, photographs, and more in order to rediscover and piece together her past and hopefully make sense of the present. It aims to explore how living with dementia can affect someone’s life, as well as the lives of those around them and was developed with support from medical professionals and Gaming the Mind to help create a sensitive and realistic portrayal of the condition.
The game began life in 2016 when Chella Ramanan and Claire Morwood took part in a Bristol Game Jam. Upon its positive reception, they went on to form 3-Fold Games and will release Before I Forget in full on 16th July 2020. However, as a Humble Original, it was also made available from 5th June 2020 but only via the Humble Choice monthly subscription.
Before I Forget can be completed in around one hour and is quite straight forward in its gameplay. It consists mostly of exploring a single location, Sunita’s home, discovering notes and mementoes in a bid to understand both her past and her current life. Despite the implied simplicity, the implementation of the interaction is cleverly designed to give the recollections more impact but also to recreate, in some way, how it might feel to experience such uncertainty.
Details in the settings and the various items do not appear straight away, upon inspection they start appearing gradually after a brief delay as though everything takes a moment for Sunita to process, which serves to recreate a similar sense of impatience and confusion in the player. Likewise, during a moment of some urgency, all sense of direction is removed with every door leading to the same place and corridors moving. This leaves the player going around in circles in a sense of panic, almost destined to fail and felt like a poignant reminder of the various struggles faced by those suffering from dementia.
Narrative and Styling
As expected, the narrative is delivered in a fragmented and disordered manner through information in the environment and items but also through the memories they trigger and Sunita’s inner monologue. Before I Forget contains barely a handful of characters but are all intricately crafted and relatable with the game giving the player a real sense of who each person is. This is accentuated by the succinct, emotional and subtly informative writing, melodic piano soundtrack and quality voice acting.
The overall aesthetic and visual elements of the game are not only a highlight but instrumental in tying the whole experience together. Featuring beautiful artwork, angular low-poly models and a soft colour palette of pastel shades and muted tones the game is a joy to look at. However, each area begins in a light greyscale and it is only through the exploration that the detail, colours and reality of the environment are revealed. Similarly illustrative of theme, things will revert to dark greys, blacks and reds during tenser moments and during a playable older memory everything begins in full vibrant colour.
Before I Forget is a short but beautifully memorable experience, realistically and sensitively portraying the life of someone with dementia. Its stunning artwork, emotive storyline, relatable narrative, audio elements and empathy combine to make a full and well rounded overall experience that I highly recommend.
For more games about rediscovering memories why not check out Heal, Maries Room or Dear Esther?