Forspoken is an action-RPG title about a young girl who is living a tough life in urban America and is whisked away to a magical land, trading gang bullying for monsters. However, cracking wise only can get you so far, but thankfully Frey is well-equipped to save the world.
At this point, you have probably sighed. And you’d be right to do so, for sighing is a bit of a thing for the player in this game. It begins with you as Frey, an orphan who is left to fend for herself in New York as her savings are stolen and her apartment is set on fire. She has the gift of the gab though, and this won’t be for everyone as Frey’s dialogue is beyond awful. This was picked up early in the first trailers and despite heavy meme-ing, it was probably just too late to do too much about in the development of the game. It’s here in force.
Once you’re in Athia (the magical world), the game becomes itself. You’ll learn that Frey is pretty nimble, supplementing her natural parkour abilities with magic to traverse the world at pace. Sadly she does this with random seizures, as sometimes it’s fantastic, and others she will face plant into a wall, and momentum will just randomly stop.
The random stops fall over into the hub world too, which swaps Frey’s fast-paced for the slowest walk known to man. Not content with the slow pace, you have to stop to select dialogue options to your sentient bracelet (I’ll come onto this in a second) even if you’re skipping dialogue (which you will).
The bracelet then. The magical bracelet which grants Frey her powers is named Cuff. Unbelievably. And Cuff is voiced by a Stephen Merchant sound-alike, which is sort of ok, but the whole interaction between him and her just feels uncomfortable. Every conversation tries too hard to be funny, and most fail.
Still, the magical parkour does work in some aspects. The combat feels pretty good, with lots of cool magical effects emanating from Cuff as Frey attacks monsters, and does all sorts of flips around. It actually feels a bit like Infamous turned up to 11 and certainly looks spectacular. But after a while, it does feel a bit like you’re just constantly strafing, flipping and spamming attacks that seem to vary based on colour more than anything else mostly.
The multiple display options you can tweak will surely let you be able to enjoy it as you prefer, with Ray Tracing, 120HZ and other options all selectable to really make it pop based on how you enjoy your games. But the biggest problem with Forspoken really is how it feels vs. its contemporaries. It feels like a spruced-up version of a 10-year-old game, with mechanics, dialogue, and art style all from the PlayStation 3 era, but with a very high-res coat of paint.
The fairly spectacular bigger battles will certainly dazzle, but you’ll quickly be wanting more, to which Forspoken fails to develop into anything more. Part of the issue is probably that Square Enix is pushing this as a triple-A release, whereas with expectations better managed, I think folks would be more forgiving. Even then though, it’s an absolute chore to listen to thanks to Frey’s constant chattering which is a huge turn-off.
Reviewed on PS5