Review: Forgotten, Not Lost

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This thoughtful visual novel uses the medium to tackle a serious topic through the eyes of the elderly protagonist.

Title: Forgotten, Not Lost
Developer: Afterthought Studios
Playtime: Around 1 hour
Buy Forgotten, Not Lost on here Steam.
I received a review copy from the developer.

Forgotten, Not Lost is a kinetic visual novel (no choices) dealing with dementia, a heavy issue that immediately makes it stand out from the plethora of light-hearted romance VNs we’ve seen coming to Steam lately.

“An old farmer lives with his wife – However, he hasn’t quite been himself lately. His mind wanders off, he forgets his daily routine and he often brings up things from the past.”

The story is well-written and tugs at the heartstrings; I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat for a lot of it. Set in a medieval world, it’s told through the eyes of the sufferer, a simple farmer who lives with his wife, and we experience his declining memory and his response to his condition right along with him. We see the pain and confusion he goes through as he forgets more and more, from the small, innocuous memories to not being able to recognize his own wife, and take trips back down memory lane that blur with the present.

It’s a realistic look at what someone suffering from a degenerative brain disease such as Alzheimer’s might go through, and so seeks to evoke empathy in the reader. It’s nice to see an effort to tackle a serious issue such as this, in particular one that affects the elderly, through the visual novel medium. Let’s face it, there are plenty of other hot-topic issues out there that would attract far more readers than one about “old people stuff”, but these more “mundane” and less widely discussed issues are exactly the kind that need more exposure.

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On the writing front, one criticism I had was the name situation with Madalene/Madaline and Mirabelle/Maribel. I think I see what the writer was trying to go for here with drawing parallels between the characters, but I’m not sure it really worked as it was quite confusing, especially since there were some times where I wasn’t sure who was being referred to or instances where the same name was spelled differently (e.g. Madeline/Madaline). Also bear in mind that it is very short; I finished it in 40 minutes, although admittedly I am a fast reader.

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The music (which I liked a lot), character sprites, and backgrounds are quite simple and subdued, but fittingly so, given the themes and setting, and they work together with the words to evoke a bittersweet atmosphere that veers between joyful and gloomy along with the protagonist’s changing moods.

All in all, I appreciate the message this game is trying to send and it was definitely a worthwhile read, but I feel it would better serve its purpose as a free game, or at least with a portion of the price going to a dementia-related charity. That being said, it’s not expensive, and worth picking up if you want to experience a more serious visual novel.

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