Forgetting (Troy Chin)

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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).

The ArtScience Museum. Cool, no?

The ArtScience Museum. Cool, no?

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.)

8 thoughts on “Forgetting (Troy Chin)

  1. Whelp, I’ve gone through several times and can’t figure out all of the cues. And to be honest, it’s a pain to go through again and again, even if I want to solve the mystery. I found three different endings, along with Cleansed: Denial, 4th Wall, and Darkness.

    • Intriguing. Bliss was an ending in which the protagonist regained the will to lead a “normal” life and rededicated himself to work; this might have come about because I found relatively few clues in that playthrough, though I’m not sure. In Instinct, he survives uncleansed, but has lingering memories of the missing blonde. I have the strong impression from some memories found the third time we’re in the weird apartment that Julia actually killed someone, but I have no way to investigate that; and I’m not sure what to make of the unlocked audio files.

      • If you explore the kitchen sink at one point, I think the second or third visit, Julia will mention that she has to cancel a movie date with you. Later, when you pass the video rental place, you can follow up on that movie and chase Julia with a taxi. She seduces a guy on his yacht, and it’s implied that she kills him. If you don’t follow her quickly enough, you can watch the movie and deduce that it’s a message between you and Julia. There is a panel you click during the movie where your character analogue says that the cycle of fate can be broken. Then, when thugs come to beat you up, you slip into a wish vision where you and Julia are happy–for the Moonlight ending. In Denial, you remember where the dream apartment is and go there, only for the thugs to change reality such that no one believes you about them and Julia. In Darkness, one of the men in black from the club appears behind the master bathroom door and tells you that you wanted to forget Julia in order to protect her, and that the only way to do that is to kill her in your memory. Well, it seems you just straight up kill her. I can’t seem to get there again, but I bet if you chose not to shoot her, you got a different end. In 4th Wall, you punch Troy Chin and drive off with Julia into the sunset. I think you get 4th Wall by looking at the dog pin in the fridge and the anime sticker on the bedroom window, and then opening the master bathroom door. Also, if you try to use the main door of the apartment on the first day, missing pug posters will turn up in at least two other places, though I haven’t been able to do anything with that.

      • Oh and the audio seems to be a detective checking up on Julia and the organization she’s involved with. Possibly the same detective that sends you the envelope with the pictures of Julia and her customers.

      • Last batch. Acceptance: don’t kill Julia when given the opportunity. Hero: throw a plate; take down an escort ring. Dog: find five dog posters, then open the door to the right in the hallway.

      • Wow — thanks for all the detail. I thought I’d been obsessively following up on all the possible leads, but it seems like I missed quite a lot.

  2. Pingback: Tightening the World-Plot Interface: or, Why I Am Obsessed With Conversation Models | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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