Developer / Publisher – Steel Minions / VRTRON
Price(PS) – US $N/A / EU €4.99 / UK £3.99 / AU $N/A
Release Date – May 22nd, 2019
Control Method – DS4
Pro Patch – No
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on –PSVR (PS4 Pro)
Do you care to to venture back to the height of the Roman Empire and take in some of the splendor of that bygone age? While now you can thanks to a Night at the Forum, which puts you in the shoes (boots?) of a guard at the forum, assigned tasks by a bodiless voice that involve exploring the forum and learning about some of that age’s histories.
You can only use the DS4 here and while you can explore just about any point inside The Forum, you can only navigate my node-points and click-turning making for a very comfort conscious effort with no locomotion options available. You can pick up and view items scattered around with some needing to be transferred to different spot in the Forum which you can store with a press of the ‘O’ button. Early in this experience you are given a list of tasks to perform as well as a map of the area and completion of these tasks ends the game. Many items also have audio logs attached to them that give a little tidbit of info regarding the goings on in Rome at the time with topics like the judiciary system and politics being brought up throughout.
A Night at the Forum looks okay though it’s clear this was made on a limited budget. Statues surrounding the forum are recycled many times over though may be in a slightly different position with other textures coming off simplistic at best, and ugly when you get to close. It’s not all bad as the recreated forum has some smaller halls to visit that pay a little more attention to detail as they contain relics from that age. Torches light up as you traverse the halls with subdued lighting effects to accompany them but besides that, the entirety of the game is static and rather barren. The scale of the Forum is still cool to take in and seeing these ruins brought back to life and wandering through them elicits a small sense of wonder.
The audio is probably the shining point as your host, who reveals himself soon enough, details all the event surrounding any item you can interact as he does so with much gravitas. There is a far bit of dialogue in here with the game kindly asking you to stop what you are doing and listen. When wandering the courtyard, looping background sounds play, which is fine enough save for a moaning cat which you probably hear once a minute and I’m not really sure why they just didn’t opt for the quiet sounds of the night instead of that annoying animals singular cry.
My largest issue with this, especially when compared to The Chantry, is that I was just bored throughout the 45-minute experience. The Chantry opted to tell a story through discoveries whereas The Forum just lists off historical facts in whatever order you discover them in leaving the entire experience feeling a little disjointed. That’s not to say I didn’t pick up a few tidbits of knowledge, but this experience never really hooked me and the drive to push through and learn more about this time period just wasn’t there. After play through the main game, you can revisit the forum in ‘Museum mode’ which allows you to explore the area without mission objectives, but there is no new content so it’s really just for those who maybe want to listen to fact you may have missed the first time.
All in all, A Night at the Forum does what is sets out to do, but little else. It doesn’t look awful, but it’s not that good either. The facts and stories are interesting enough assuming you care about the subject mater. If you don’t, I don’t think what’s here will grab your attention as its rather dry, leaving this to be much more niche then I think was intended. If you are curious about Roman history, you’ll probably pull something from this, but for everyone else, this might be a pass.
What would I pay? This is roughly $5 which is a perfectly fine ask for this if the subject matter interests you. If not, you might be better off spending your money elsewhere as there just isn’t that much here.
VRTRON provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!