Updated: Sep 9, 2021
I remember seeing a quote along the lines of “all we have are our memories and photos,” but Before I Forget challenges the former and enhances the latter. In the UK currently 850,000 people suffer from dementia and stands to grow to 1.6 million. 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have it. But what do we know about the illness that essentially takes memories away? Admittedly for me very little, but this game does a wonderful job in not only educating me, but allowing me to embody Sunita, the main character in the story. I feel like I had an experience that created more empathy, more concern for my loved ones and really places the importance of memories and capturing those moments in my own life. Because keeping hold of these moments in my mind alone, is a privilege and not a given.
Without giving too much away, this first person narrative sets you up in your North London home. Sunita is very much alone, going from room to room, exploring, interacting with objects, photos and trophies that set her off on a journey through time experiencing all the highs and complicated lows in her life. The influence her aunt has on her work and the wishes of her mother come through in the story, but what ties it together is the relationship Sunita has with her loving partner Dylan. Crafted in loving notes, postcards from his time on tour and objects in the house, you not only get a picture of Dylan as a husband but the relationship they had and the difficulties that seemed to arise because of distance, accidents and a want for a new major life change.
What I loved about this game was how well it built up the narrative to its big reveal at the end, despite the fact there were gaps in Sunita’s memory. It gave us enough information to come to our own conclusions to scenarios in her life and encouraged us to piece things together. Within the beauty of this narrative there were some very tense scenes that brought to light some of the everyday challenges dementia sufferers can face but one scene in particular felt a bit random. If you play Before I Forget or watch our Let’s Play, I reckon you’ll know the scene I’m talking about.
I’m on the fence with the art style, some if it I liked, some of it wasn't for me but what I did enjoy was the watercolour animation sequence whenever Sunita interacted with an object and went down memory lane. That once piece of memory she uncovered brought a splash of colour back to her world. I loved that. The music accompanying the gameplay was pretty decent too. Didn’t have much expectation there but it goes well with the story, and helps ease the narrative along.
In terms of gameplay it was very simple, just click and move but I did have a few issues where what I was supposed to interact with wasn’t always crystal clear. In one scene I was frustrated because of clarity but we got there in the end. I would also like a few more scenes like the toilet and newspaper scenes to break up the click and point action a bit more. There’s also the issue of the length of the game. I don’t think every game should be a 10 hour campaign with additional side quests, but I feel that 2-3 hours minimum would have been great. Did they do well with the time they had? Yes. Do I wish I could spend more time as Sunita really uncovering the big relationships in her life and if she ever remembered when things in her life were changing because of her condition? Also yes.
With such a delicate subject that many wouldn’t have interacted with, 3-fold have created a wonderful narrative game that introduces something that thousands suffer with. Despite some things I wish could be improved or added, it shouldn’t stop you from playing this game. It’s hard to say you’ll enjoy it because of the nature of it, but you’ll definitely be moved.