Online, Jul 2020
One of Hysteria’s original physical games was named The Forgotten Realm, which was often spoken of warmly by enthusiasts but which closed last year. Perhaps the owners have a soft spot for it, because for their third online game they’ve created a sequel to continue the theme and the story. It’s a fantasy setting populated with elves and griffins and long-bearded wizards, and is naturally once again threatened by dark forces that only you can thwart.
This follows a similar format to Hysteria’s other online games, with a linear sequence of web-based puzzles. This time you’re also given a grimoire of useful information; it’s up to you to work out which snippets to use with which puzzle, though puzzles that need you to look in the grimoire provide an indication to help you realise that.
One of the most charming features of Forgotten Realm is an animation system used to turn static images of faces (human and otherwise) into moving pictures. These are paired with voices whose English accents are incongruous with the Hollywood tones I found myself expecting, in a way that adds rather a lot of character.
This animation system is also used for the game’s hint system. That’s thematic and pretty, but I suspect it’s also the reason why there’s exactly one hint for each puzzle. We didn’t actually need to resort to the hints for this game, but if we had, I’d have preferred them to be less flashy and instead be provided in a more incremental way.
For a game set in a magical realm full of magic and fantasy, I felt it was a little incongruous how many of the puzzles resolved to a series of digits. I had few other complaints though, with solid and nicely-presented puzzles (okay, the counting puzzle was never going to win me over), and the way the overall structure reflects an early puzzle was a nice touch. I’d put Hysteria’s three online games more or less on par with each other, but Forgotten Realm might just have the edge for its Narnia-esque theming and the clever animations.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.