Forever is easily the most realistic check-out simulator I’ve ever played.
I say that only half jokingly, as I’ve never actually had to scan any severed limbs during my short, yet undeniably soul-crushing tenure as a grocery boy. Perhaps if I’d stuck with it long enough, it would have lead to the sort of violent scenarios that are presented just off-screen in Forever.
You are a nameless faceless employee of an unknown retail outlet, simply scanning items as they approach, the register reminding you that you will, in fact, be doing this forever… and ever… and ever, most of the sound coming from a radio blurting the same generic muzak on on loop next to you. After a certain number of items have been scanned, a random pile of dollars and coins fall into the register from the sky before you move on to the next transaction. It doesn’t really matter how much money you make or what the customer purchased, you simply continue in perpetuity, prolonging this meaningless existence. As someone that’s worked in retail the majority of my adult life, it hits perhaps a little too close to home.
Eventually you simply want to get on with your day, trying to speed items through without scanning. They’ll simply come back to you. Maybe you grow tired of the radio and just want some peace and quiet while you do your job. Throwing it aside will simply distort the song for a moment before it ends up right back on the belt in front of you. Forever makes it clear – this is your life and there is no escape.
What prevents the game from being completely devoid of any joy is the fact that apparently the store you work at is owned and operated by David Lynch. Eventually your scanning routine is broken up by the appearance of some more unusual items, like a bloody knife or the aforementioned severed arm. Maybe the customer came in for an open box of cereal and three tires or a matching pair of limbs. Also, is that man’s head a lollipop? Okay, just checking. I’m not here to judge. I see all kinds walk through here.
Even though it’s played to comedic effect, those odd distortions do reflect what it feels like to lose sense of time during a pointless routine, to continue engaging with something that you hate. It stirs feelings that can be overwhelming and oppressive, especially if you find the scenario all too familiar. Perhaps it’s an easy button to push. I’d imagine most people in that line of work have at least felt glimpses of that same futility that Forever shines such a light on.
Doesn’t make it any less true.