Hey all, I’m back with a review of one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. It’s Forspoken.
Plot: The plot and script of Forspoken definitely has some weak points. In fact, for a majority of the game, it’s undoubtedly the worst part, but there are actual story reasons for that. However, once you’ve learned about those reasons, it turns everything you thought about this story on its head. Where once things were dark and grim, now they’re shone through with light and hope.
That isn’t to say that the story is perfect. It’s not. It’s a very good story, even with a few problem spots and things that drag it down, and even though the late game reveal is very good, it might be a slog for some to reach that reveal. Nonetheless, for all that I’ve heard other people already ragging on Forspoken for its “bland” story, it really isn’t that bad, and given that this is a game and not just a book or movie, Forspoken makes up for it in other ways.
The story itself follows main character Frey Holland, who finds herself mysteriously transported from New York City to the amazing land of Athia. Thankfully, a magical, sentient bracelet is inexplicably wrapped around her arm, and Frey discovers the ability to cast powerful spells to defend herself as well as being able to use magic to traverse the sprawling and deadly landscapes of Athia.
Gameplay: The gameplay itself is incredibly strong, though admittedly it is a bit weak to start off, but once you leave the city of Cipal about an hour into the game, Forspoken really starts to take off. I love the gameplay, and it’s honestly one of the best open world titles I’ve ever played due to its very fluid combat and movement systems. Some games make traversing across the world a chore, or require players to earn/gain mounts to travel around faster, but Forspoken lets you run through the world of Athia nearly from the start. Sure there are some areas that are off limits until later in the story due to either story-gating mechanics or just a simple inability to traverse areas until you gain certain abilities, but the world is still incredibly vast in those areas you might be limited to.
The magical parkour system is everything I’ve ever wanted in an on-foot movement system in a game ever since I first played Assassin’s Creed II where its free running system didn’t quite meet expectations and hopes. Forspoken blows all those predecessors out of the water. In fact, I highly recommend that players all enhance their parkour abilities as soon as they get the chance a few hours into the game because it helps make traversal even smoother and more fluid.
Then there’s the combat system, it’s pretty intuitive once you get the hang of it, and I enjoy bouncing around the battlefield slinging various spells at enemies all while dodging attacks effortlessly. It only gets better as the game goes on with new magic trees opening up as the story progresses, allowing for Frey to start attacking from closer in or further out depending on the spell tree.
And each tree includes an upgrade that lets you switch between the others with ease and actually improves combat.
For example, with the Red Magic you can gain the ability to switch to it at any time by using Frey’s magic to reel in an enemy opening them up to some quick damage from the more close combat oriented magic school, and then switching to a more medium range option with the Purple Magic by blasting enemies at Frey’s feet to propel her backwards while damaging or outright destroying some enemies giving you an opportunity to really open up with some quick midrange attacks.
From start to finish the gameplay only gets better and better as the game progresses. I only wish that more titles actually used their combat and movement systems as seamlessly as Forspoken does.
Characters: Frey Holland is our main character. While she’s very much not hero material, it is the role thrust upon her in the story much to her displeasure. In fact, that particular point is the root cause of some of the awkward dialogue encountered in the game, though there are workarounds that help mitigate or completely change the dialogue for the better, like switching to the Japanese dialogue. Anyway, Cuff is a breath of fresh air in any case, which is what Fray names her magical bracelet. The animated bracelet acts as both Frey’s guide to Athia and an unmitigated jerk of a companion that loves to spout off smart ass remarks to Frey frequently. The rest of the characters, of which there are maybe a couple handfuls in total, all are fairly strong, and I enjoyed them greatly.
Art: Forspoken is beautiful, and the combat is incredibly smooth on my PlayStation 5, and I enjoyed the artwork immensely. It isn’t perfect, as the game engine used for the title is clearly feeling its age, but those moments only really show up in the non-combat areas like the city of Cipal. Once you’re out in the world, the game flows incredibly smoothly and well despite being made on an engine that’s over a decade old at this point.
One other thing that I’d like to point out is that Forspoken is one of those rare games that actually includes the true garment when it comes to equipment that they call cloaks, and it does an amazing job of animating them. Most games that do include them just mean capes, which aren’t quite the same thing. For those who want to know the difference, a cape is something that covers your back usually between the wearer’s shoulders, but that’s generally it. A cloak on the other hand is something that covers the entire upper body, not just the back. So, for a game with amazing cloth physics like Forspoken to actually include a true cloak is a huge bonus for me. I honestly wish more titles did, but it feels like a huge step in the right direction for including such things from now on. Hopefully that trend continues.
Music: The musical score is great and captures the feel and tone of the story incredibly well. I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it at first, but it did eventually win me over. That being said, the voicework of Forspoken is not super amazing, or at least the English language dub of it. This is unexpectedly sad given that the main character is from New York. I had to switch to the Japanese dub of the dialogue about an hour into the game because of how awkward it was getting, and I highly recommend everyone else do the same either from the beginning or once Frey arrives in Athia. For some reason, the voice actor’s character’s tone of voice in the English dub version really doesn’t mesh well with the script. Again, this was unexpected for me given how much of the development team is made up of Westerners and that Frey is an American character, but once I made the switch everything worked out much better.
Overall: I enjoyed Forspoken. It definitely has some rough spots, but Forspoken definitely could be the next big franchise for Square Enix, and I sincerely hope that others can see its potential after playing it.
For those who like: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Open-World Games, Good Plot, Awesome Characters, Fantastic Gameplay with some of the best Combat and Movement Systems in gaming yet, Amazing Artwork, Great Musical Score, and Excellent Voice Work (in Japanese).
Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above or having to wait till near the end of the story for it to show its true worth.