Forspoken Review – A Fantasy of Fashion
Forspoken was initially unveiled during the PlayStation 5 “Future of Gaming” event, showcasing some of the exclusive games coming to the next-generation console. After a delay from 2022 to 2023, the game has finally launched two years into the PS5’s lifecycle. However, it remains to be seen if the delay was sufficient for the game’s development team to make the necessary improvements.
Forspoken presents an interesting example of a game that had great potential but failed to meet expectations due to poor design choices. Before its launch, there was a buzz about the game’s supposedly mature and witty dialogue, which included a liberal use of profanity. Although this may have been an attempt to mimic the success of games like Devil May Cry, it falls short of delivering a satisfying experience.
Forspoken follows the story of Frey, a young woman from New York who finds herself transported to the mystical land of Athia. The opening chapter introduces the player to Frey as she navigates through the daily perils of her life in New York. However, the slow pacing of the story and the lackluster dialogue prove to be hindrances to fully engaging with the game. Frey is a dynamic character with an interesting personality, being an orphan and all. The cutscenes do their best to provide context for her backstory, but additional information can be found scattered throughout the in-game lore, accessed through archives.
Frey’s journey to Athia begins when she discovers a talking armband, known as the Vambrace, which forms a bond with her. This transports her to Athia, a land plagued by a mysterious curse known as the Break, which has decimated most of its population, turning them into braindead creatures. The remaining survivors have relocated to the small city of Cipal. After an unfortunate encounter with a dragon, Frey finds herself in Cipal, where her main objective is to return to New York. She sets out to achieve this goal with the aid of her newfound magical abilities and by helping the locals.
My biggest pet peeve with Forspoken goes back to its first reveal trailer. At that time, it was presented as a visual showcase, and the footage appeared stunning. It was expected to be one of the flagship titles for the PS5 that would demonstrate its power. However, this has not been the case since the game’s release.
I have previously played Final Fantasy XV, which also runs on the Luminous Engine that powers Forspoken, and I find that Forspoken represents a major step backward, particularly in terms of lighting. The game has flat lighting and repetitive textures, which do not justify its next-generation tag. On a positive note, the particle effects are quite impressive, and there are several performance options available, including three different graphic modes and support for 120 Hz displays.
The story in Forspoken’s campaign is not particularly compelling, and the game lasts between 10 to 15 hours, depending on the amount of time you spend in the open world. However, the gameplay is enjoyable, with a mixture of magic, parkour, and powerful spells. These features take time to unlock and mastering the combat is not straightforward, but once the player becomes fully immersed in combat, Forspoken transforms into a completely different game. This is why I particularly enjoy the post-game and side content that is available after beating the game, as it allows players to unleash the moves they have learned.
Forspoken utilizes the capabilities of the DualSense controller effectively, but its implementation leaves room for improvement. The pressure required to activate the adaptive triggers is excessively high on the default settings, though there is an option to either reduce the pressure or disable them completely. During the initial playthrough, the excessive pressure on the triggers caused discomfort in my fingers. However, after adjusting the settings, the gameplay became more enjoyable.
Another area of concern is the small text size in the user interface. Despite the lack of options to adjust the menu text, the subtitles can be modified to meet the needs of the player. The game also offers several accessible options for those who cannot utilize the dynamic menu for magic casting. Despite these efforts, Forspoken’s design choices remain unsatisfactory and suggest that further refinement is necessary.
The cutscenes in Forspoken are subpar and fall short of delivering an engaging experience. The presence of awkward cuts, abrupt fade to blacks, and rigid animations detract from the already lackluster story. Furthermore, the gameplay is disrupted by sudden dialogues with Vambrace, as well as forced slow walking sections, which are incongruous with the dynamic traversal system and complex magic parkour and spell system offered in the game. These issues hinder the overall enjoyment of Forspoken.
Forspoken was a highly anticipated game for the PS5. However, it falls below expectations compared to other exclusives. The storyline is slow and the dialogue lacks depth, while the cutscenes suffer from awkward transitions, rigid animations, and unsatisfactory fade to blacks. Although the gameplay provides a mixture of magic, parkour, and spell-casting, there are areas for improvement, such as the implementation of the DualSense controller. The small text size in the user interface and the excessive pressure on the adaptive triggers are also notable drawbacks. Despite offering post-game and side content, Forspoken falls short of delivering a truly satisfying experience due to poor design choices.
Forspoken Game Information
- Price: $69.99
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Luminous Productions
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher