Review – Forspoken

Hardcore Parkour (and More)!

Overview

Developer Luminous Productions
Publisher Square Enix
Genre Action RPG
Platforms PC, PlayStation 5 (Reviewed)
Release Date January 24, 2023

As a publisher, Square Enix has been stretching its legs and testing new waters over the last few years. The results have been fantastic, in my opinion, with games like Outriders and Tomb Raider joining their traditional JRPG staples. I’m excited to report that, despite some social media kerfuffle, I’ve had a great time with Forspoken and I hope you’ll consider checking it out, too.

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: The game contains spiritual entities and magic, as well as fantasy creatures. There are rulers with special powers and spiritual corruption in the game.

Violence: There is a lot of combat and violence but no graphic content.

Sexual Content: There is no sexual content in Forspoken.

Drugs and Alcohol: There are scenes with drunken revelers dancing in celebration. Frey is given a pint of what can presumably be alcohol in a tavern.

Language/Crude Humor: Forspoken is full of mature profanity. F*** and other curse words are as common as about any word in the game. It is not recommended you play this within earshot of children or those sensitive to foul language.

Review

Frey is a young adult caught between a rock and a hard place. Abandoned at birth, she’s grown up as a loner, save her cat Homer. After the last run-in she can afford with the law and pressure from some local thugs, she’s forced from her home. While contemplating life, she stumbles on a metallic cuff that begins speaking with her. Before she knows it, she’s swept into a wondrous new land full of danger and magic as she has to fight to rid the land of oppressive magical rulers.

Forspoken, despite social media discourse, has a surprisingly solid narrative with well-realized characters. It feels a bit like A Kid in King Arthur’s Court meets Harry Potter and Breath of the Wild. Frey’s modern New York street slang makes for some arguably bizarre anachronistic moments, but it can also provide some hilarious, memorable exchanges that’ll have you grinning. The game is also full of sincere moments that show you the storytellers at Luminous Productions had a great vision for what they were crafting. Forspoken‘s story is no cheap cash-in.

For as much as I enjoyed the story, playing Forspoken felt great as well. The most notable selling point is the game’s “magical parkour”, which gives Frey the ability to traverse the wild environment with the aid of supernatural abilities. New traversal skills can be unlocked as you play, making an A to B journey that much sweeter to experience. On top of her parkour skills, Frey has access to substantial combat magic she can unlock and upgrade. The result is a formidable young mage with a sizable library of power at her fingertips and it’s a lot of fun to experiment with.

Given its nature as an open-world game, Forspoken has to fill the map with things to do. While the main storyline will only require a handful of stops, Athia is full of sites to see and challenges to overcome. Few of them are required but you’ll often be rewarded satisfactorily for completing them. There are combat dungeons to churn through, forts to scout, mutants to conquer, timed challenges to race through, and more. Rewards can be anything from upgrade materials to new equipment or skills. They constantly place mana nodes around the map you’ll want to collect to fill your skill tree. It can be addicting. *Side Note* – Be sure to turn on auto-pickup in the menu options. It makes collecting materials a smooth experience as you journey.

Forspoken is a fantastic-looking game. Enemies have fun designs and major foes are full of impressive detail. Spell effects look incredible on screen. Minus a handful of throwaway NPCs, character design is reminiscent of the Horizon franchise. The game’s soundtrack is beautiful and evocative, but the voice acting is where the game really shines. Yes, there’s some awkward dialog at times, but the cast showed their chops with excellent performances. Ella Ballinska (Netflix’s Resident Evil) and Jonathan Cake stole the show as Frey and Cuff, but the supporting cast all did a great job bringing Athia and its woes to life.

The game isn’t flawless, of course. My biggest complaint is the repetitive banter between Frey and Cuff, which can leave you frustrated to hear the same lines of dialog for the 200th time. There are a few narrative choices that frustrated me, too, given a lack of reasoning. They made for cool in-game moments, though.

After playing the demo, I honestly had low expectations for Frey and her time in Athia. Much to my pleasant surprise, Forspoken surprised and engaged me from start to finish. The open world gave me plenty to do and combat was dynamic. The upgrade system gave me something to chase while enjoying some variety. Minus a couple of exceptions, the characters and story beats felt impactful and well-delivered. This might be Frey’s first foray into the magical world of Athia. I certainly hope it isn’t her last. Forspoken has set a high bar early for 2023 and anyone willing to give it a fair shot will find themselves happy with the decision.

Review copy generously provided by Square Enix

The Bottom Line

 

Forspoken delivers a fun open world with dynamic combat and an engaging narrative you should seriously consider.

 

8

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Joe Morgan

Husband, gamer, software developer, animal lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace, he's probably fishing or working on content with his wife for Coffee and Adventure, their YouTube channel

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