As you may have already read, we were not sent an early review code for Forspoken. This means we won’t have a full review for you to read in time for the game’s launch on January 24th. However, after spending most of the day with the PS5 action RPG, we wanted to jot down some first impressions, which will hopefully help inform you on the upcoming release.
The title says it all, really. We’re almost six hours in, and Forsaken has been a strange experience. It is too early to say if it is good or bad Or somewhere in between, but we’ve at least glimpsed the title’s potential in these early moments.
However, things get volatile. The opening 45 minutes or so watch protagonist Frey come to terms with his increasingly dire situation in the real world. New York City has chewed him up and it’s about to spit him out, as the unemployed 20-year-old faces a lengthy prison term for a third-strike felony. He is given one last chance by a surprisingly lenient judge, and is then attacked by gang members on his way home. Then the building she is sitting in burns down along with all the money. It’s going great.
This opening sequence is confusing, but we found ourselves empathizing with Frey. We’ve all been at the end of our tether at one point or another, and that’s rock bottom. Luckily for Frey (and us), she stumbles upon a magical cuff—it’s sitting on a desk in an abandoned house—that transports her to another world. Finally, we’re into the actual game.
All the meme-worthy dialogue you’ve seen doing the rounds online takes place over the next half hour, as Frei tries to wrap her head around the events. She interacts with her magical cuff – now seemingly attached to her right arm – and the banter is the best. There is no writing enough Serious as in-game because it at least has some kind of context, but it still feels like it’s trying too hard. cold, for lack of a better word. The dialogue sounds natural, but no one outside of a particularly obnoxious youth drama would talk like that.
The ground-breaking opening of Farspoken is asking you to take Frey’s plight seriously, but then an hour later, he’s “F*ck, f*ck, f*ck! F*cking f*ck!” Screaming is fighting a dragon, and it can be a bit annoying, but that’s the point. In a way, the game does a good job of throwing you into something completely different and alien, and it probably wouldn’t be possible without the initial fear.
As you can imagine, it’s not long until you’re bombarded with battle tutorials. Free is capable of slinging elemental spells from a distance, and the first enemies you encounter will try to close that distance. It is immediately clear that the fork is Basically A third-person shooter with pretty cool particle effects, and throwing attacks feels quite fun.
We’ve killed a lot of enemies since then, and again, we can see the potential. Frey’s arsenal starts off pretty limited, but a quick dive into the skill tree shows how things can evolve. Combat is obviously going to be a core part of the adventure, so we’re hoping it eventually branches out beyond sitting at a safe distance and slapping baddies with magically charged bits of rock. Recent demos would suggest this is indeed the case, but it feels like we’ll need a steady stream of new skills and abilities to stay fully engaged.
Our only immediate issue with combat is the lack of impact. Outside of the damage stats that appear when your spell hits home, there isn’t much visual feedback. The enemies we’ve encountered so far have only one type of charge about them, only reacting to damage until their health bars are empty – though we’re well aware that we’ll still be able to do it with the most basic attacks. working
The controls may also need a little tweaking. Forsaken has an inherent fluidity to it, which can be difficult to get used to. It’s not that the game is unresponsive, but some of Fray’s animations, and the way she interacts with the environment while moving, can make the action feel a touch choppy.
Indeed, traversal plays a big role in a massive open world, but we’ve already found ourselves stuck on jagged sections of terrain, which can really hurt the intended fluidity of Free’s movements. What’s more, the camera has a frustrating habit of being drawn to the scenery when exploring enclosed environments like dilapidated buildings. It may not be a big deal that there are vast expanses of open world where you will undoubtedly spend most of your time, but it almost reminds us of something like Sonic Frontiers, where any desire for critical control is eliminated. The window when your character has a tendency to move so quickly.
Moving on, we have no choice but to bring up the visuals, which, frankly, have been the biggest disappointment so far. If you cast your mind back to when Forspoken was first announced (as Project Athea), the feeling at the time was that it would become a PS5 showpiece. Here we are more than two years later, and the finished product looks nowhere near as impressive. World lighting is shockingly flat, colors are inconsistent in places, and environmental detail is seriously lacking.
Outside of the aforementioned particle effects, this is honestly a rough release to look at. Obviously projects are scaled and changed during the development cycle, but Forspoken doesn’t look out of place on PS4.
And unfortunately, this line of criticism extends to the game’s technical performance. Its dedicated performance mode targets 60 frames-per-second, but it feels like it’s dropping a few frames. Every time, and what we assume is a dynamic resolution seems to drop noticeably whenever things get busy. It’s not a complete train, but it’s far from selling the power of the PS5.
Forspoken has its flaws, that’s for sure, but we’re enjoying the exploration and combat encounters. We can’t say much about the story yet, and the writing really has to step up its game if it wants us to take it seriously, but here’s…something Works here. Whether this will be enough to sway us on the rest of Free’s journey is hard to say, but we should have a full review for you to read in the near future.
How are you feeling about Forspoken? Are you tempted to take a look for yourself, or are you holding back for now? Give us some magic in the comments section below.
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