Forspoken Review – Half-Baked And Uninspired

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There is a wide variety of Open World games on the market these days, and the demand for them doesn’t end because, at the end of the day, there is just always something in them that entices players to pick them up.

And Forspoken is a brand-new Open World RPG developed by Luminous Productions, and now that it’s finally released after minor hiccups and delays, we have prepared a review in which we discuss every aspect of the experience, from the story to the gameplay.

Story And Setting

Story.

The narrative of Forspoken starts off with an introduction of our main character, Frey Holland, who goes about her life in the busy city of New York. Unfortunately, not everything is sunshine and rainbows for our heroine as she quickly finds herself holding onto life by a thread, while dodging gang members across the streets of the city itself.

However, without needlessly adding any more filler exposition to the prologue, Frey suddenly discovers a portal that sends her to a whole other world. She soon learns that she has arrived in the forsaken land of Athia, which is brimming with its own set of primitive life forms and beings. We are also introduced to the various tribes of the game which offer their own insight and world-building to the setting.

story
Frey In NYC.

Frey also gains a new companion after her displacement in the form of an armband which she literally names Cuff. Together with her newfound magical powers and with her eccentric sidekick, our protagonist will need to investigate what her place in this world means for her, as well as unravel a dark mystery that can doom Athia and its various denizens.

But the problem with Forpsoken’s narrative comes to light right from the early going. There have been a number of brilliantly written female protagonists in the video games industry, such as the likes of Senua from Hellblade, as well as Amicia from A Plague Tale, but Frey is unfortunately not one of them.

At the root of the problem is that even though Frey comes off as relatable as far as the fish-out-of-water plot point is concerned since she has literally been magically transported to another world. It’s just hard not to state that she is painstakingly insufferable, which is already a red flag for anyone looking for an enjoyable narrative experience.

forspoken story
Transported To Athia.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are various people who might occasionally enjoy the humorous banter between Frey and Cuff, and there are even rare moments where the heartfelt segments will tug at your heartstrings. But these moments are fairly short-lived, and the overall storytelling and even the lore of the world are hardly memorable apart from that. Furthermore, it’s a good thing that you can mute Cuff due to his abhorrent tendency to talk every few seconds in the game.

Experiencing new characters or even the various twists that occur can certainly intrigue almost anyone, but for me personally, I found myself constantly wanting to take my headphones off or mute the main characters due to their obnoxiously written dialogue. The narrative aspect surely wasn’t doing Forspoken any favors for me during my review, but thankfully that kind of changed with the gameplay elements, which we are going to discuss now.

Gameplay

forspoken gameplay
Gameplay.

The saving grace for Forspoken lies somewhat in its gameplay as you can dash around the map at high speeds, use powerful magic to annihilate your foes, and most importantly, fuse sorceries to create even deadlier ones to unleash on the battlefield. The aspect of the game is sure to satisfy many players, especially those who absolutely love using magic in RPGs, as the central combat element mainly revolves around that mechanic.

However, looking at the combat on a deeper level Frey is able to cast between two different sorceries at a given time and has access to both ranged as well as melee-type spells which can help cater to different play styles on the fly. Aside from that, once this whole system clicks, it certainly is impressive to witness Frey wreaking havoc on her foes or against larger-than-life bosses across the lands of Athia.

forspoken combat
Combat.

Upgrading Frey’s spells and their stats can somewhat improve their capabilities in combat but you won’t feel the difference as much compared to when you invest in a single stat a few times. The progression is pretty light-hearted as you will gather materials while traversing the landscapes as well as by defeating enemies during combat.

There isn’t too much grind here like any typical RPG, but if you want to feel stronger while unleashing magic, then you will definitely have to explore and investigate every corner of the map and even tackle side quests to earn new capes, items as well as upgrade your entire arsenal of spells.

forspoken upgrading
Upgrade Menu.

The traversal mechanics is another highlight that I thoroughly enjoyed in my review of Forspoken as the game allows you to smoothly dash and parkour at high speeds across the map. Whether it’s climbing mountains, scaling large and ancient structures, or just quickly trying to get across from point A to B, the immense satisfaction of Frey running like The Flash is certainly a delight at every end.

forspoken gameplay
The smooth and freeflow traversal

So with what we mentioned so far, the game looks promising, right? Well, that’s far from the truth because as much as I tried hard to enjoy every little part of the experience from exploring every nook and cranny and clearing every checklist objective activity off the map, the overall experience just felt barebones and lacking.

Now don’t get me wrong, Forspoken is decent in a lot of ways, but the world design and how it incentivizes you to clear the map just feels unimaginative, especially with the quality of recent open-world games such as Elden Ring.

Frey forspoken
New Gear.

Despite that, we’re not here to make a comparison as although the game might feature a wide array of great RPG aspects, the execution certainly could’ve used more attention. Not to mention the fact that combat may obviously feel satisfying, but it becomes extremely repetitive and at times even clunky. I personally couldn’t help but breathe a deep sigh of relief every time I completed a tough boss encounter out in the wilds.

Visuals And Performance

forspoken visuals
Visuals.

It’s difficult to not admire the sheer creativity and scope of Forspoken’s art direction as each of the different areas is brimming with richness and density. The environments are so gorgeous that at certain times you will end up praising the graphics fidelity one way or another. But on the subject of fidelity, the image quality may seem to differ at times because you will often end up with a grainy presentation or worse, frame drops even on the performance mode of the game on PS5.

forspoken graphics
Graphical Fidelity.

While I had the pleasure of playing the game on my Playstation 5, it’s unfortunate that the game currently suffers on the PC port, which already was in shambles a few days ago when the requirements for it were revealed. According to users with a high-end build such as the RTX 3070Ti along with a Ryzen 7 3700x, they are only able to achieve 30FPS at low settings, which is more than enough to indicate that this PC port is ridiculously poor.

However, for now, we strongly recommend waiting for fixes or updates from the developers that will drastically improve the performance or at least make the game run in a stable or playable state. Thankfully PS5 users shouldn’t face too many problems by running the game on its performance preset, plus if you have a higher refresh rate monitor or TV, then you can achieve up to 120FPS without losing too much image quality.

Verdict

forspoken homer the cat
Verdict.

Without stating any undeserved hate for the game, Forspoken manages to showcase fantastic magic gameplay as you can take control of Frey Holland to massacre wild monsters and other ancient beings in spectacular fashion. Parkouring across the beautifully designed world of Athia is a visual splendor, and the diversity on display is an absolute treat.

However, it goes without saying that no matter how initially impressive the game may seem, you can’t ignore its numerous rough edges, from the bland map filled with needlessly overdone checklist activities to the storytelling practically being laughable.

But who knows, if you can bear through Frey and Cuff’s childish banter, you may just find yourself enjoying Forspoken, even if it’s another cookie-cutter Open World RPG with the same style and approach that’s been done for years now.

This has been our Forspoken Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.

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