Square Enix is an odd duck as of late. For every big release that it does with the likes of Final Fantasy XV and the forthcoming XVI, it does a weird title that doesn’t really seem in its wheelhouse. Sometimes it works, like the Just Cause games…and sometimes, you get Forspoken.
This title, from Luminous Productions, has been discussed for some time with game communities, mainly because of its concept, its combat and, of course, its lead character, a sassy girl who finds herself in an alternate world. Some have easily dismissed Forspoken based around its controversy, but is there any weight to the game as a whole?
The answer is yes, but to a point. There is something to be said about the innovative combat, as well as the neat traversal system. In the end, however, the story doesn’t really measure up, nor do the actions of the somewhat oddball lead character. It’s a journey that some may want to take up, but, honestly, you might want to wait for a price drop first.
Into the Frey
The game’s lead character is “Frey,” an orphan who finds herself on the wrong side of the tracks. However, she’s got some heart to her, provided you can get past her dialogue, which tries wayyy too hard to be smart-alecky.
Anyway, “Frey” winds up in the alternate world of Athia, thanks to a magical golden bracelet, the Jarvis-like Cuff. It’s here that she discovered the leaders of the land corrupted by something called the Break, a mysterious force that goes after organics like a person would go after a bag of Cheetos. It’s up to “Frey” to find out what’s going on and stop it before it’s too late. Forspoken does have some interesting lore within this world, but, alas, it seems to be lost in the narrative. The dialogue isn’t really as laughable as the producers at Luminous were hoping, and, in some cases, gets really annoying with the swearing. Yes, that’s us saying that. After playing God knows how many sessions of GTA V. And things don’t even get really interesting until the second half of the game – for those who can last that long.
Fortunately, the controls somewhat makes up for it. Featuring combat that really grows over time, as well as a zippy traversal system, there is some weight here for those that stick out the game’s somewhat muddled beginning. But still, it almost feels like it could’ve opened up to something even greater, especially for the later portion of the game. It almost pulls off a nice trick. But that’s almost.
It’s not bad, by any means, but it’s not nearly as innovative as the producers were hoping it would be. And the whole “fish out of water” concept is a good idea, but it’s just not well
executed here. Something just feels off.
One thing that does work in Forspoken’s favor is the lovely visual setting. This world actually looks rather neat, and some of the enemies are elegantly designed, like you’d find in a given fantasy adventure. The main character has visual appeal as well, willing to fight when, earlier on, she was just looking to stay out of trouble. Overall, it’s a visual feast on the PS5, even though it seems to come up slightly short compared to other big-budget fare like Final Fantasy VII Remake.
The music’s not bad either, and the sound effects are pretty good. But, again, we come back to the dialogue, and this is likely where some players will be turned off by Forspoken. The tone is just weird, aiming to tell a bigger story but then trying to lean more into something that doesn’t fit.
Again, if you can look past some of the annoyances with the narrative and pacing, you might something with depth in Forspoken. The getting-around within this world is imaginative, and the combat really takes off after you stick with it for a while. The graphics aren’t bad either. But the hero seems more annoyed than invested, the dialogue can be groan-worthy, and the story just doesn’t have the stakes of other adventures. It’s a breezy quest for those that want to take it on, but I can’t help but think with just a little more time – and much more investment in a character that really deserved it – Forspoken could’ve really been something magical.
The Bottom Line:
It’s not as bad as some people are making it out to be, but Forspoken does come up short with hitting the bullseye when it comes to its narrative and dialogue.
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