Forspoken Review — Nothing Magical About This Journey

I had lit­tle expec­ta­tions for For­spo­ken, main­ly see­ing it as just anoth­er action RPG–but with the pos­si­bil­i­ty for poten­tial since it was backed by gam­ing giant Square Enix. How­ev­er, this is sad­ly not this case. Just about every ele­ment of this game has an under­ly­ing issue, or sim­ply isn’t enjoy­able to deal with. I strug­gled to find redeemable qual­i­ties dur­ing the time I spent on the game, find­ing only min­i­mal entertainment.

The issues imme­di­ate­ly began with the start of the sto­ry. Frey, our pro­tag­o­nist, is in trou­ble with the law for steal­ing a vehi­cle. This is her last chance before the judge throws the book at Frey and she’s not in good stand­ing with the gang she’s been steal­ing the cars for, because she keeps get­ting caught.

Forspoken Review - Nothing Magical About This Journey

Frey just wants to leave New York and start a new life with her cat Homer. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the gang finds out where she lives and burns her apartment–and all the mon­ey she was saving–to ash­es. This leads Frey to think­ing of jump­ing off of her hotel building–when she sud­den­ly has light sur­round her. She then sees some­thing shin­ing in the win­dow of an aban­doned store and goes to inves­ti­gate. It’s a cuff, or vam­brace, and it attach­es itself to Frey. She wakes up in anoth­er world, see­ing New York through a por­tal she can not access. 

The por­tal dis­ap­pears, and Frey starts to pan­ic. This is when the cuff begins to speak to her (it’s sen­tient, of course), telling her she’s in Athia and that they’re now per­ma­nent­ly attached until she finds her way home.

I’m strug­gling to even describe these events prop­er­ly sim­ply because they were just so hard to watch. It was bru­tal to hear the dia­logue between Frey and any­one. She’s snarky, con­de­scend­ing, and down­right irri­tat­ing to lis­ten too. Com­ments she makes are full of attitude–where it’s unwar­rant­ed at times–making her char­ac­ter extreme­ly unlikeable.

Forspoken Review - Nothing Magical About This Journey

Take out the “Frey Fac­tor” and the sto­ry itself is alright, but the dia­logue and how it is’s just awful. Odd place­ments of 20-sec­ond game­play that leads to anoth­er cutscene, lin­ger­ing on the faces of char­ac­ters at the end of scenes, and weird con­ver­sa­tion­al choic­es that can only be had with cer­tain characters.

Anoth­er major issue I faced was the graph­ics. The qual­i­ty is sub­par to say the least, even with three dif­fer­ent options for the PS5. Char­ac­ter’s move­ments and speech are giv­ing me the impres­sion that none of them were motion-cap­tured. Not even Frey. It makes the awk­ward exchanges Frey has that much more dif­fi­cult to sit through. NPC’s also per­form a lot of the same loop­ing actions while speak­ing to Frey, exam­ples includ­ing hands mov­ing up and down, head­ing bob­bing, and fran­tic look­ing back and forth.

  • Forspoken Review - Nothing Magical About This Journey
  • Forspoken Review - Nothing Magical About This Journey
  • Forspoken Review - Nothing Magical About This Journey
  • Forspoken Review - Nothing Magical About This Journey

Per­for­mance mode makes it look like ear­ly PS4 games–but los­es lit­tle frames while Frey is bound­ing around. Qual­i­ty-focused drops the game to 30 FPS or less, but bumps the graph­ics up a tad. Just a tad. Ray-trac­ing mode makes For­spo­ken unplayable on the PS5, mak­ing it a use­less option that eats up resources.

For­spo­ken being played while in Qual­i­ty Mode
Com­bat while in Per­for­mance Mode

Besides the gen­er­al prob­lems with the graph­ics, For­spo­ken’s set­ting is just unin­ter­est­ing. The lands are cov­ered in what’s called the “Break,” destroy­ing every­thing it comes into con­tact with. Grass, shrubs, trees–most foliage, in fact–is a dry-brown/desert green col­or, lit­tered across vast open hills, rocky over­hangs, and cliffs. It is a sea of brown and gray, with splash­es of inland water­ways and lakes to break up the monot­o­ny. Most build­ings are plain, with noth­ing archi­tec­tural­ly inter­est­ing about them. 

The envi­ron­ment does­n’t just lack visu­al aspects, it’s also quite emp­ty. Places to explore are far and few between, with the rest of the emp­ty space being filled with ene­mies or ran­dom items. Plus, there is only a per­ceived open-world, because Frey is blocked off by mas­sive walls or rock for­ma­tions. Some­times zones have stronger Break, keep­ing Frey back until she’s strong enough to han­dles the ene­mies within.

Speak­ing of ene­mies, the com­bat is the most frus­trat­ing I’ve had to deal with in awhile. No mat­ter what set­tings I adjust, com­bat still feels clunky and uneven. The con­cept is amaz­ing, but how it was applied is the issue. Frey dash­es across the ground at light­ing speed, being able to avoid dam­age with lit­tle effort. The down­side being she makes what­ev­er park­our move she wants dur­ing these dash­es. If you want to flip over an ene­my, well, that’s up to Frey. Anoth­er major neg­a­tive is using her mag­ic in uni­son with the speed boost and parkour. 

This should give you a good idea what’s it’s like deal with these mechanics.

Her spells are not quick to release, deal lit­tle dam­age at times (depend­ing on the ene­my’s weak­ness), and it is easy for the lock-on func­tion to lose its focus or switch to anoth­er ene­my when try­ing to reori­ent Frey after sev­er­al mid-air dash­es. As an added side note, com­bat ele­ments were being intro­duced at odd times. For exam­ple, my first com­bat encounter did­n’t teach me how to dodge attacks, just the basics of attack­ing an enemy.

For­spo­ken has some inter­est­ing com­po­nents, like nail designs that boosts Frey’s pow­ers, and an easy-to-use crafting/upgrade sys­tem. The Cuff is a far bet­ter char­ac­ter than Frey her­self, and comes with plen­ty of use­ful tools. He can scan a large area to show Frey what’s around her (ene­mies, chests, boss fights), pin­point ene­my weak­ness­es, and can even block cer­tain attacks. There are also some cute addi­tions, like a cats that lead you to mate­ri­als and famil­iars that show up at any safe hous­es unlocked. Cer­tain chests need be unlocked by solv­ing a puz­zle, far more inter­est­ing than the usu­al locks seen in RPGs. How­ev­er, these lit­tle details can not make up for the three major com­po­nents of this game that just don’t work.

With a big name like Square Enix back­ing For­spo­ken, and the devel­op­ment team being one that has made a triple AAA title before, I’m extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed. While the frame loss issues I suf­fered are like­ly due to me play­ing it on the PS5, it still does­n’t jus­ti­fy the prob­lem. As harsh as this may sound, this game just seems like a title Square Enix pushed out to say they did some­thing in-between mak­ing Final Fan­ta­sy. It looks incom­plete, feels incom­plete, and brought a small amount of enter­tain­ment for the absorbent price tag it holds. 

I am a Platinum lover and an ex- Cod-aholic. I've been playing games since I was 5 years old and I refuse to quit, despite my mother's attempts to get me to. God of War and its successors are my all time favorite games.

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