Reviews

The Forest Quartet Review

Are you tired of marathon video games that long overstay their welcome? Are you bored of having to level up and tinker with stats until your brain aches? Are you fed up with the same tedious narratives recycled ad nauseum? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then The Forest Quartet is the game for you. It is delightfully short, wonderfully stat free, and has a story I’ve never experienced in a video game before.

The Forest Quartet is a jazz-inspired puzzle adventure game that will twang your heartstrings with effortless ease. The simple yet elegant premise sees the player taking on the role of a jazz singer called Nina. Or rather, Nina’s soul, as Nina has tragically died of an unexpected illness. Her death has left the three remaining members of the Forest Quartet alone and grief-stricken. Nina was the hook-filled chorus that held the band’s catchy tune together. Without her, they are lost, both metaphorically and literally, within the depths of the forest that they call home.

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As such, it is up to Nina’s soul to help them work through their grief and to connect band members Kirk, JB, and Sebastian together again – to reunite the quartet for one final performance.  What follows is a game that lasts no more than 90 minutes, yet not a single second of that run time is wasted. This is a beautiful and evocative game, the visuals going hand in hand with the gorgeous acoustics to form a deeply moving and engaging experience.

The Forest Quartet Puzzles

The game gives you the simple goal to free Kirk, JB, and Sebastian from the confines of their negative emotions – anxiety, depression, and anger respectively. To achieve this, the player guides Nina around a surreal forest, exploring and solving innovative puzzles. Controls are eminently accessible, this is a game that anyone can pick up and enjoy, with absolutely no prior gaming experience necessary. There are no tutorials to put up with here, the game leaving you to experiment with its environment and mechanics, giving you the freedom to solve the puzzles at your own pace. And there are some corking puzzles to be solved! Each one teasing your brain to neuron-quivering delight. To say more would be to spoil the experience of discovery, so I’ll just state that these puzzles get mighty creative. Particularly in the final two regions of the forest, which are just brilliant in their execution.

Unfortunately, the brevity of the game does mean that, despite the brilliance of what there is, you are left with the uneasy feeling that more could have been done with the puzzles. The proverbial envelope could have been pushed a bit further. There is just so much potential here, that some elements cannot help but feel under-explored. It lacks that crescendo of a grand finale that sees the previously established mechanics return for an encore performance, and it feels sorely lacking in its absence.

Still, what is here, the experience that waits to be discovered, is one that you’ll find yourself humming and tapping your foot in memory to, long after the final chords have been played.

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