Forgetting is an interactive graphical story by Singaporean artist and author Troy Chin, and was exhibited at the Singapore ArtScience Museum as part of a show that ran concurrently with ICIDS this year (more about ICIDS in a future blog post or two).
Forgetting concerns a man who keeps experiencing amnesiac episodes, as well as memories of a relationship with a woman named Julia. It starts out with the hoary “amnesia in a non-descript location” trope, but it soon moves beyond that as the protagonist returns to full memory and starts trying to piece together what’s really going on. The Singapore setting isn’t the main point of the story, but it’s manifest in a number of subtle ways, from the details of the protagonist’s job to his comments on the changing nightlife.
As Chin explained during an introduction to his work, Forgetting is meant to feel linear. Clicking on different panels in a strip, or on different objects in some of the more location-based scenes, can lead to different outcomes, but the system does nothing to indicate that you’ve made a choice, or to tell you where or what the other options are. It’s only at the end, when you are told which ending you reached, that there’s any kind of tracking acknowledgement. Reaching new endings unlocks additional clips of information; conceivably, there may be some grand reward for reaching all of them, as in many visual novels.
I haven’t managed to get that far yet, though, because despite trying to play as thoroughly as I could and going through the story seven or eight times, I’ve only found three conclusions and I haven’t been able to work out what else I could be exploring; and there’s no way of bookmarking or going backward in the story or (a la visual novels) fast-forwarding through already-seen bits, so a complete run-through takes a little while. Ultimately, that’s left me a little dissatisfied: I would like to have gotten far enough to piece together the mystery, whereas all I’ve got at the moment is some hints. I think that might be the experience the author intends — he’s gone to some lengths to conceal the mechanical underpinnings of this work — but it leaves me itching for more information.
Still, this is worth a look. There are moments of exploration, where you’re examining objects in a space and then getting multiple comic panels of exposition about those objects, that felt somewhere on the spectrum between graphical adventure and parser IF. I’d also be curious to know if anyone else gets further than I did. (My endings were Bliss, Instinct, and Cleansed, fwiw.)