Forspoken: Far from a Fail – Action Roleplaying Game Review

The escape route from a hopeless world?  Frey is hard, her life even harder, but before her place burns down, she has made an elaborate plan.

As the credits flickered across the screen, Forspoken left me flabbergasted. On the one hand, it was okay that I saw the end of the action role-playing game after less than 20 hours of play. On the other hand, I wanted more, absolutely, back to Athia. Why the new game from Square Enix and Luminous Productions left me with certain cravings is due to my perhaps not so everyday type of player.

It wasn’t necessarily Frey’s story that really gripped me, even if it sometimes moved me to pitying tears filled with anger. Because Frey is not the protagonist of this action role-playing game, but Athia! I will be happy to explain why I feel this way in this detailed text. Just a note to start with: If you don’t like open-world games because you’re constantly distracted by side quests or a tricky vehicle control or torn out of immersion, both of which apply to me, is with Forspoken (buy now €79.99 ) spot on.

The fish from New York

Note on the test

Around ten days before the release of Forspoken, Square Enix provided us with two keys for the Playstation 5 for testing – other editorial offices did not. We do not know why this is so, nor do we make any assumptions about it. This test is all about the game and the fun. Let’s start with the story that develops around the protagonist Frey. The New Yorker Frey, you learn quite early on, is an orphan and quickly got on the wrong track. Her story begins shortly before her 21st birthday with a visit to a court. Frey was caught stealing a car and, thanks to a benevolent judge, just barely gets away with welfare hours. Frey is not subtly portrayed as a hardened and mellow person, apparently not really regretting the misdeeds she commits out of necessity.

This becomes all the more clear when, after the court date, she is intercepted by a gang who want to confront Frey. Where’s the car our boss wants you to crack? confiscated. will you bring it back Nah, not really. We’ll make you cold! Try it.

And immediately there’s a wild chase through the narrow streets of Hell’s Kitchen as you try to get Frey to safety. Would that be necessary? Not necessarily, because although Frey takes a few injuries, she hands them out just as powerfully. Life on the streets is tough, and Frey is tough. This will be drummed into you at the beginning with a wooden hammer.

See also  Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom could bring back cool online feature from Wind Waker remaster

Another sign that Frey is not to be trifled with is her hideout, which you’ll end up in fairly quickly. It is an empty house. At least there’s electricity in it, a cat named Homer… and a holdall full of cash, which Frey wants to take off with the next morning. You ask yourselves why she doesn’t want to leave immediately. Unfortunately I can’t give you an answer, I didn’t understand it myself.

The escape route from a hopeless world? Frey is hard, her life even harder, but before her place burns down, she has made an elaborate plan.
Source: buffed

With the mallet to Athia

It happens as it has to happen: the gang finds out where Frey’s Safe Space is and sets the place on fire. Frey, who is sleeping on a tattered mattress, notices the smoke and has to check on Homer in the next room instead of immediately reaching for the sack full of coal next to her bed, which would literally take a split second. So over to the other room, find Homer in the kitchen cupboard, turn around… Oh heavens, no, the bedroom with the cash is unreachable because of a wall of flames! Imagine how I rolled my eyes at this point.

Forspoken is also a cat game: cats let you find figures in Cipal, which you can exchange with retailers.  The tantas' familiars roam the pilgrimage sites.

Forspoken is also a cat game: cats let you find figures in Cipal, which you can exchange with retailers. The tantas’ familiars roam the pilgrimage sites.
Source: buffed

So Frey ends up penniless, but at least not without a cat, and makes the difficult decision to hand Homer over to the benevolent judge before she walks hopelessly and aimlessly to the Holland Tunnel. There she notices a glow, sees a strange bracelet in a building full of antiques and has a look. Grab the thing, of course, and hey presto! Frey is already being sucked into Athia.

A world of cruelty

The Isekai story, Frey lands in a world that is foreign to her and has to find her way there, unfolds in Athia. The strange bangle, which can no longer be removed from Frey’s arm, turns out to be a living creature that, like Frey himself, didn’t fall flat on his mouth. With the help of the thing Frey calls Reif, the New Yorker wields spells and learns to magically enhance her already existing parkour skills. After a short excursion into a fraction of the free game world, which tickles the explorer genes of the players powerfully, Frey ends up in Athia’s capital Cipal and is put in jail.

See also  The Game Awards Live Stream: Awesome Steam Deck Sweepstakes, Star Wars, Diablo 4 & More [Erinnerung]

In the first two hours, half an hour in New York, half an hour in Athia’s Junoon region and an hour in Cipal, you’ll get the rough stuff about magic, about frost, about the destructive phenomenon of fracture that turns land and living beings into monsters, as well as the history of Athia. You meet the first important characters, such as helper and healer Auden Keen and the council members of Cipal. And Frey’s greatest goal quickly emerges: find a way to return to New York.

A friendship for life: Frey and Auden.

A friendship for life: Frey and Auden.
Source: buffed

A world in chains

The first two hours feel sluggish. In order to get the story about the four mad rulers of Athias, the tantas, and the break going, the developers first put chains on you after the fleeting moment of freedom in Junoon. Auden helps Frey escape from the prison tower. You can hardly move freely, but have to stubbornly follow the healer as part of scripted events with little of your own doing. Then you run from pillar to post in the city to find out things. You don’t have to go to a lot of trouble not to be recognized by city guards as a prison escapee.

As luck would have it, Auden’s father, Robian, was a cognescent, one of Athias’ most valued scholars. He was investigating the Toran phenomenon, the portal that Frey used to get to Athia. So the first thing you do is search for Robian’s notes. As a reminder: Frey wants to go back to New York. For whatever reason. Probably out of habit. Her miserable, lonely life in Hell’s Kitchen seems to offer her more security than the idea of ​​starting over in Athia.

See also  WoW: Interface windows, as many and where you want - thanks to the addon

Drama in 13 acts

The search for Robian’s notes and then all the twists and turns of Forspoken’s story that follow unfolds in 13 acts which, as mentioned at the beginning, can be experienced in just 15 to 20 hours in story mode, the easiest difficulty level. Depending on how much time you spend exploring Athia in between. In medium standard difficulty it can take a little longer because the fights are then noticeably crisper.

I have to say one thing first: I heard the English speakers and put the lyrics in German. I couldn’t understand until the end why players of the Forspoken demo were annoyed by the banter between Frey and Reif … until I switched the voice output to German for half an hour. Sorry, but yes, in German they are annoying. After all, the frequency of this banter can be adjusted in the extensive menu settings, as can a great many other things, by the way. I’ll come back to that later.

The tantas were once the benevolent protectors of Athia - and all lost their minds with the breach.

The tantas were once the benevolent protectors of Athia – and all lost their minds with the breach.
Source: buffed

So what are the characters of Forspoken like? I can’t put it any other way: they put on a gripping performance. Frey’s motivations are perhaps the least understandable, but I think the council members Cipals, Auden and her father Robian and especially the tantas are great. Although I may not always agree with Frey’s emotions, the developers managed to pull off a trick that I only knew from God of War (2018). Atreus exhibits such a drastically changed behavior in the last quarter, when he understands who he is, that he becomes really awkward. And that’s what happens to Frey during the story as well, when she falls out with Auden. The writers of Luminous made my “heroine” extremely unlikable to me, and I applaud her for it.

The story itself is not a masterpiece, but it is told vividly. The first major twist was anticipated by the people who have followed the game since its inception without ever setting foot in Athia. And I could already see the biggest twist after the first big fight. Nevertheless, the story arouses emotions and that’s what matters to me. But I think Athia herself is much more important.