Forspoken Review

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Written By Antoine Clerc-Renaud

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Its January 24th release date is finally approaching after not one, not two, but three delays. To reach our conclusion, we spent the past week or more magically parkouring throughout the Athian plains while fending off hordes of zombie-like foes and corrupted Tantas. Have the postponements been successful, or did Luminous Productions still require additional time for its initial game? Learn about it in our Forspoken review.

Frey Phone Home

In a clumsily managed setup, the New York courtroom setting of Forspoken presents its orphan protagonist Alfre “Frey” Holland as a minor offender with a long criminal record. With Frey’s early portrayal being rather tone-deaf in the present atmosphere, this courtroom drama’s introduction is both boring and misdirected.

It is also not helped by jarring dialogue that contrasts its story of gang violence with cringeworthy MCU-esque humour. Fortunately, the plot and Frey’s situation both pick up as she discovers a sentient golden bracelet named Cuff, who mysteriously flings her into a brand-new planet called Athia.

Four Tantas, or goddesses, who have been corrupted by something known as the Break, a miasma that infects whatever organic it touches and, in extreme circumstances, kills them outright, rule over this formerly lovely and tranquil world. Everything but Frey, who generally seems to be resistant to its affects.

Frey now has one clear objective in mind: going back home. It’s unclear why she would want to go back to a world she was so determined to leave behind, as the game itself emphasises frequently. However, the voice acting is superb, despite the script being noticeably clunky, even though Frey is doomed to be a protagonist who divides opinion. She is a 21-year-old woman who frequently curses, doesn’t want to be bothered by other people’s problems, and is obviously fed up with everyone else’s blather.

This blasé beginning serves as the clearest example of Forspoken’s weak storytelling abilities. On the other hand, the lore of Athia does better, as proven by the numerous tales of love, grief, rebuilding, and other human emotions that Frey has come across in various notes and souvenirs.

Several states make up Athia, and within those states there are (former) villages and towns. The map is sizable but not overly big, and it is simple to browse. When you zoom in on the map enough, it changes from an overhead view to an isometric one, giving you a far more detailed look at the geography and buildings.

A Tedious Beginning But An Oh So Enjoyable Battle System

Even though the opening of Forspoken doesn’t exactly create the mood, sticking with it through the first chapters to reach the open-world segment is worthwhile. The entire map is accessible to the player after completing the introduction, much like in the majority of open-world games released in recent years, complete with enormous mini-boss opponents that can and will kill you in one or two hits.

There is a variety of terrain to scale, but you may do it much more precisely by using Frey’s Flow concept of traversal. Frey enters a sort of autopilot mode while she holds down the circle button, which affects both how she moves and how she deflects blows.

If the player is holding the circle button and has enough stamina, Frey will always automatically dodge out of the way if a dodgeable assault is imminent. R2’s dodge animation makes it easier to shoot, giving you a chic way to dispatch your would-be assassin.

Forspoken doesn’t magically transform into some sort of auto-playing idle game; some attacks are unblockable, and just like someone using a Tesla’s autopilot functionality still needs to be aware of the road conditions, the player also needs to be aware of where to go and where potential threats are coming from.

As was promised during our preview last month, combat is as varied as it was. After conquering all of the Tantas in the world, Frey gains new powers with various hues and vastly diverse battle tactics. She first uses basic purple magic. The player can choose a support magic by holding L1, which, as the name suggests, casts spells meant to aid Frey in battle.

There are offensive support options as well, such as setting explosive traps, spawning a flower that serves as a turret (especially useful against flying enemies), or creating a dome of fire that increases your attacks whenever you’re inside it. Typically, this entails building a shield or stealing health from nearby enemies. Surge magic, a third kind of spell, is what Frey uses for his super moves, which are powerful area-damaging assaults.

Limitless “ammo”

Each of Frey’s support skills has a unique cooldown timer rather than a pool of mana from which to perform these spells, although her main assault spells can be cast indefinitely (and usually have the option to charge them for greater effect). Naturally, larger/more potent spells have longer cooldown times, and surge magic, as previously established, has the longest timeframe of them all. If you wish, a setting in Forspoken allows the game to switch instantly to a cooled-off power, which is helpful if you want to just slam everything you’ve got at an enemy without having to stop and consider what to blast out.

Frey discovers safehouses early on in the narrative, which are places to heal and construct, scattered around the devastated countryside. They do, however, also have bookcases where she can choose to keep track of up to three Spellcraft challenges. These are mini-quests that require the player to use the chosen spell to accomplish specific accomplishments.

This is a fantastic method to introduce gamers to all of their options. A task that requires players to leap over foes and then attack them with Tanta Sila’s sword-based combat magic is another example. Frey’s purple magic can be used against enemies that are weak to it, teaching you to assess an enemy with Cuff’s scanning abilities before battling. In addition to improving Frey’s mastery of the learned ability, completing these tasks boosts several of his stats.

Frey has cloaks, necklaces, and nail polish to increase her stats in addition to improving spells. There are numerous resources to collect, including plants, rocks, and various other objects. Each hand can have a unique pattern painted on it with a variety of benefits, such as enhancing attacks or decreasing cooldown times. This makes the nail polish fascinating. The correct equipment and acquired upgrades can make Frey immune to poison and have a stamina recharge rate that is significantly faster, giving the player a near-unstoppable feeling as the story goes on.

Forspoken Is Visually Striking And Left Us Speechless

Forspoken uses various DualSense features that are particular to the PS5 system. Cuff’s voices are heard through the controller’s speaker, but subtle effects like Frey’s footfall, explosions, and other more conventional movements are given haptic input. Last but not least, adaptable triggers are employed to perform spells, however the effect is less immersive and more of a trigger point for the selected spell.

Forspoken is a joy to look at graphically. There are three graphics settings available, or six if using a more modern TV or monitor. While quality mode boasts the most detail while occasionally lowering the frame rate, performance mode clearly appears the “worst.”

The Ray Tracing option, which sits in between the two, provides the best lighting while maintaining the majority of the information in the quality mode. You can also turn this on or off for each graphics mode if your display supports 120 Hz refresh rates. The frame rate abruptly decreased to a crawl when I switched this off after having it on for the majority of my time with Forspoken.

The game is so fast-paced that you scarcely have time to notice if any of the foliage off in the distance has extra aliasing. In any event, no matter what mode you run the game in, it won’t be easy to notice the variations in detail when you actually play it.

Although there have been some concerns expressed online about Forspoken’s optimization, I’m happy to say that this is not the case on the PS5. The bespoke Luminous Engine maintained the frame rate target given by the chosen graphics mode, with the exception of gazing down onto certain open areas with massive structures in them. Things remained stable and the engine kept out of the way, allowing me to concentrate on showering down the pain even as dozens of “breakzombies” started assaulting.

Forspoken also has incredibly quick load times. Fast travel to any location on the game’s quite big map takes, on average, less than two seconds, as does continuing a saved game. After they finish fast travel, Frey and Cuff even mention this, in a playful attempt to breach the fourth wall. Although the PS5’s SSD undoubtedly contributes to such quick load times, it is still amazing that this generation is the first in which slow load times have virtually disappeared.

Forspoken Review: The conclusion

With a playtime of approximately 30 hours if you focus only on the campaign and almost twice as long if you choose to do all the side missions and activities, Forspoken is a comprehensive experience. There are no online features or microtransactions to worry with; it is a single-player only game. Forspoken is a fantastic game to lose yourself in because it doesn’t have the same distractions that come with online games.

Luminous Productions took a huge risk by releasing Forspoken, but the thrilling Flow battle system more than compensated for its awkward storytelling. Although Frey can be exasperating as the protagonist, successfully executing magical commands and avoiding enemy fireballs in short order is immensely rewarding. Despite its flaws, I left Forspoken feeling satisfied with my experience of helping the citizens of Athia.

Forspoken: Luminous Productions took a huge risk by releasing Forspoken, but the thrilling Flow battle system more than compensated for its awkward storytelling. ACR

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Glossary About Forspoken

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