‘Forspoken’ game review: Great combat let down by terrible writing

Despite a strong female protagonist and some cool fighting mechanics, the game suffers due to an insipid-looking world and bad writing

February 06, 2023 01:52 am | Updated 01:52 am IST


Forspoken | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The last large open-world game from Final Fantasy creators, namely Final Fantasy XV, featured a mythical road trip featuring a bromance between testosterone-charged men. So, it is refreshing to see a strong female protagonist in Forspoken, which plays around with the Role-Playing Game formula. Overall, however, the game has many missed opportunities. 

Alfre Holland (known as Frey) has the worst life in New York, as an orphan down on her luck. At her lowest point, she is transported to Athia, a mystical world. She gets superpowers thanks to a magical talking bracelet, called Cuff. But Athia is not a wonderland. The rulers of the place want her out of the picture. So it is up to Frey and Cuff to free the natives and save the world... before the terrible writing gets to you. 

Forspoken is not a bad game at all. Its story, however, has been told many times over in many different forms and it does not hold well. The writing is so generic. Even though the actors have done a marvellous job of adding some life to the lines, some of them still make you cringe.

To make matters worse, the audio design is finicky and drowns out sounds and speech. That is just the tip of the iceberg of technical issues, which are abundant on PC. The game works better on PlayStation 5.

The combat is a mixture of Spider-Man and Control. Instead of webs and guns, you shoot out magic projectiles, block using shields and unleash skills to take out enemies. Frey flies around the battlefield, unleashing some impressive particle effects as she commands elemental magic. The other great aspect of the game is the magical parkour, which, in combat, allows Frey to do some impressive gymnastic dodges in slow motion. Outside combat, this allows Frey to harness her magic to traverse great distances which is one of the most satisfying bits of the game. 

Open-world games are only as good as their worlds. Athia, for a magical land, is a dreadful bore with its insipid colour palette and empty environment.

Given the polarising nature of Forspoken, it is best to play the free demo first to see if this game is for you. It would be worthwhile to wait until the game is fixed in some way or the game engine is optimised to be less demanding before purchasing it. 

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