It’s Like Cake
Forgotten Hill is a town that you never want to visit but that you just can’t stay away from. It’s macabre and dark with just a touch of the supernatural, as well as some things that are never fully explained. It’s the type of town that if you ever had the misfortune to wander in, you would likely never find your way out again.
Developed by FM Studio, Forgotten Hill: Disillusion is the fifth main story title but the sixth game overall. The series first made its appearance in 2016 and quickly gained a following of people who enjoy puzzle games, horror, or an unsettling combination of the two. The ambiance of the Forgotten Hill games is truly well done. It’s creepy without being too dark. It’s grisly without being obscenely bloody or gross. The games project a disquieting feeling of oddness, not unlike the eeriness of the Rusty Lake games but with a little more gore and a little less story.
Not to say that there is no story in the Forgotten Hill games. There’s definitely a recurrent theme, familiar faces and an underlying narrative that tie all of the games together. However, it’s for the most part superficial and it’s not necessary to know the story to enjoy the games. It’s kind of like icing on a delectable cake. You can eat the cake with or without it, and enjoy it either way. This means that players can pick up the games in any order and not feel confused…well, any more confused than they will be due to the sometimes frustratingly perplexing puzzles.
Hair Regrowth Serum Possibly Required
Forgotten Hill: Disillusion has raised the bar in terms of puzzle difficulty, game length, and further establishing lore. The puzzles are without a doubt the centerpiece of the series. If the story can be ignored, the puzzles hold it all together.
In previous games, there was a logic, however wobbly at times, that helped players stumble onto solutions for even the more complicated puzzles. The puzzles in Disillusion can be much more obtuse and unforgiving than players familiar with previous games might expect. I found that the puzzles in this game were not quite balanced between easy, kind of tough, and hair-pullingly unclear. They definitely veer towards the kind of puzzles that make you curse and send your phone spinning across the room. This may be a good thing because nobody wants a game with puzzles that are overly simple and likewise nobody wants a game that’s just one stumper after another.
However, the problem is that the puzzles weren’t always tough solely due to lack of wit (at least that’s what I tell myself). They were difficult because the solutions often didn’t make much sense. I found myself using hints constantly, which I usually avoid as much as possible when playing point-and-click puzzle games. But in Disillusion, it’s absolutely necessary. You will bang your head against the wall if you don’t use the hint system. And occasionally even after I figured out a puzzle, it still made no sense to me why my solution worked.
Somehow, though, the game keeps you wanting to play, keeps you coming back for more punishment. It successfully keeps the scale weighted toward the side of enjoyment. You feel proud of yourself when you can put another puzzle behind you, whether you got there by accident, with hints, or through pure brain power.
A Bug or Two Crawling About
As with most of the Forgotten Hill games, Disillusion overall is stellar in its presentation. While the sound effects and music are nothing award winning, they serve the purpose in complementing the game’s whimsical and distinctive art style. However, at least on Android, gameplay can be occasionally glitchy. I encountered a game-breaking bug a few hours after I began to play. I picked up an item, added it to my inventory, then quit playing because, well, life. When I returned to the game, the item had disappeared from my inventory and returned to the table where I’d found it. However, it was no longer interactive. I couldn’t pick it up again. This item was integral in accessing the next round of puzzles in the game.
This is where props to the developer must be given. I sent an email to FM Studio to tell them about my issue. Within a few hours they had responded to tell me that they would look into it and, by the end of the next day, they informed me that the problem had been resolved and an update uploaded to the app store.
I’m not particularly good at point-and-click puzzle games, but I find that they’re a great way to keep my brain agile and exercised. In other words, completing them makes me feel smarter. That might just be an illusion. Forgotten Hill: Disillusion is a good bang for your buck in terms of length and puzzle variety. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as the first game to try in the series, unless you’ve got a decent amount of patience and experience with tougher, logic-defying puzzles. Too often, the solutions require you to jump from A to B to Q, and the cost is a temporary exchange of fun for frustration.
Is it Hardcore?
Forgotten Hill: Disillusion is one of the best games in the series so far with an ambiance that is somehow both unsettling and charming. The game loses the ball a bit when it comes to providing puzzles that are tough to solve while not being tedious or nonsensical, but the overall package is one that surpasses many point-and-click puzzle offerings currently on the market.