Sometimes one needs to take a step back and appreciate what you already have. The constant want and need to explore more virtual lands, and plunder the darkest depths of humanity’s depravity, is one millions of gamers share. Think of interlinked souls surviving on nothing but the end of yet another adventure… but at what cost? As “meta” as the above thought sounds, it is a dilemma Forspoken tries its hardest to solve. It is a shame then how the game fumbles in doing so, and loses its own identity in the process. 

Luminous Productions put a lot into Forspoken. From a demo shining the brightest of spotlights on parkour-like traversal and magic-heavy combat, through to a few, admittedly, strange trailers; there is no denying a lot of effort went into the game. Sadly, effort alone is not all a game can be criticised for. In the end, the player will seek to fill a void left by any number of video games they have played before, whether it be narrative, gameplay, or, simply put, overall enjoyment. Rather unfortunately, Forspoken delivers an extremely weak front on all of these aspects.

In Forspoken, players take on the role of Frey, a troubled teen who has never really figured out where she belongs in the world. Lo and behold, fate has other plans for Frey, and as luck would have it, so does an entirely different world. At her lowest point, Frey stumbles upon a bracelet that shoots her through a portal. She finds herself in Athia, a strange and dangerous land where Frey really does not want to be. For whatever reason, however, she feels drawn to stay and find out what she can about the world and her own history. She also makes friends with a talking bracelet. 

For as human-centric and connection-focused as the game tries to be, it seems to be at war with itself in that it features some of the most unlikable characters featured in a video game. Frey is as antagonistic as “anti-heroes” can be, and her constant squabbles with Cuff (the bracelet) is nauseating; to say the least. She constantly talks about how much she dislikes what she is doing and likes to remind everyone around her how she does not like people. Her remarks are always negative, and there seems to be a discernable lack of any kind of ambitious bone in her body. This abrasive feeling extends to much more than Frey as well. All characters, save for a judge players briefly meet in the first ten minutes of the game (and then hardly ever see again), are hell-bent on pushing gamers as far away as possible emotionally. One of the most painful comparisons to make with Forspoken is how the characters in Days Gone actually had personality versus this title… and that is saying a lot. Fortunately, character and narrative are not all a game needs to hinge on to be enjoyable or successful, right?

From the moment her feet touch the ground of Athia, Frey discovers how she has been granted access to magical abilities. Gameplay-wise, these abilities can be likened to that of Remedy’s Control, where magic feels modernised. Projectiles do not just aperate out of the character’s hand (a’la Skyrim or The Witcher), but instead form within believable spaces around a character. Spells that bind look exceptional and the game’s mobility affords a whole new level of traversal and combat, but then the game asks players to do the very same thing for longer than an hour. In so doing, all of the magic suddenly disappears, leaving behind nothing more than an empty husk of something that truly could have been great.  

Combat and traversal sound incredible on paper, yet once the shiny new toy feeling fades, there is nothing left to keep players engaged. In saying so, it needs to be emphasised how combat truly has the makings of greatness. It is fast, requires lots of attention from players, and can become a flashy and epic marvel once later abilities are unlocked. Unfortunately, it all falls short when enemies come into play. Bosses are just bullet sponges that take forever to defeat, while basic enemies hardly ever touch Frey if players have some inkling of how to dodge or keep at range. Overall traversal during combat is also a treat at first. Sprinting across open fields and doing all sorts of jumps, hovers, and wall runs is honestly really great. It is just a shame that neither bosses nor normal enemies ever force players into utilising these abilities. If players are keen, they can literally stand in the corner of a battle arena, and fire basic missiles for a good ten minutes before a boss dies. There is no risk/reward factor to be had in this game, and that alone is a great shame. 

Thanks in large part to its traversal, Forsoken’s open world can be a rewarding experience to explore. Open plains and rocky mountainous regions dot Athia. Buildings are scattered across the map with bigger city-like hubs occasionally strewn in for good measure. At first glance, this is all a treat. The game’s emphasis on “magic parkour” manages to put an enjoyable level on exploration that one might tend to forget about whenever combat kicks in. Sadly, the initial kick and enjoyment one gets out of the parkour and exploration does not last. The aforementioned open plains stretch out for what seems like an eternity at times, and there is basically zero forestation to even speak of, which comes as a surprise considering it is the same engine powering Final Fantasy XV

Although it shares the same engine, there are also a number of smaller details missing from Forspoken. City hubs feel empty and void of people, while explorable zones feature even less fauna. Beyond random enemies, the world feels empty and desolate, which is in stark contrast to what is on offer at first glance. Thankfully the game runs well enough — whether it be loading a new session, resuming from a saved state, or even just keeping the game up in the background, Forspoken respects its players’ time. Performance, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. During the review period the game crashed multiple times before a new game could be started, and once started, bigger fights against bosses would oftentimes bring the frame rates down to noticeably jittery levels. Fortunately, overall exploration remained smooth, and the game’s background culling works great when indoors. To give credit where it is due, it needs to be mentioned how cinematics also look great. 

The overarching theme with Forspoken seems to be one of under deliverance. On paper, the game should be a roaring success. From its unique premise and mix of combat and traversal, through to its narrative, there are solid ideas scattered throughout. Alas, much of this potential is left to the wayside. The main protagonist is especially unlikeable and forgettable, yet her story is one which, on paper, absolutely needs to be experienced. The world is empty and bland, yet on paper it might be one of the most intriguing settings in an open world title since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Combat and exploration also leave a lot to be desired in the long run, yet they sounds so good to any outsider who reads the brochure… and herein lies the issue. Forspoken is a surface-level star, but when digging deeper, evidence suggests it will become nothing more than an unspoken disappointment. 



Loading is extremely fast.Most unlikeable protagonist
Amazing conceptsAthia is too empty
Bosses provide no challenge

Review code supplied by Square Enix.

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Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.