Forspoken – Review

Release Date
January 24, 2023
Square Enix
Luminous Productions
Reviewed on
Review copy provided by
Square Enix

After a 6-month delay, Forspoken, formerly known as Project Athia, is Square Enix’s new attempt at a high fantasy role-playing game. With the demo released last month eliciting mixed reactions, will Square Enix be able to disprove the naysayers- or are they correct?

Frey Holland, a foul-mouthed New Yorker who accidentally traveled to the undiscovered land of Athia, will be under your command. Encountering the inhabitants of the city named Cipal, she will embark on an adventure to defeat the founding corrupted rulers of the kingdom after entering the uncharted realm while facing a catastrophic event known as The Break.

Despite being an original story, it is clear that the game’s narrative heavily borrowed elements from classics such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. The game’s narrative will definitely tug at your heartstrings, with heavy tones alluding to the social injustices of a broken caste system. It’s fantastic how the writers creatively demonstrated the social similarities between Earth and Athia.

Unfortunately, some of the characters feel generic, but they will be a great plot tool for us to see. Though there are a few standout ones such as Vambrace, an overly talkative sentient bracelet who will guide you throughout your stay in Athia. The main story is somewhat similar to other open-world role-playing games that feel stale and overused; defeat all of the main bosses, which will give you additional tools in your arsenal to explore the world. If there’s one thing that the developers nailed, it is the high fantasy setting of the game which is highly commendable because of the stage and costume design that provided a mysterious ambiance in the game.

Traversing around Athia is the main strength of this game. I have found myself wandering around aimlessly because the magic parkour mechanic is great. There are greatly designed areas to check which makes traveling enjoyable and a feast for the eyes. There is a multitude of content to see such as dungeons and puzzles in the game and unique side quests that add value to the deep lore of the story. Combat however is a different story.

It takes some practice to become accustomed to the combat controls. You will start with long-ranged attacks, but as you progress through the game, you will unlock new actions. Melee combat is fantastic, but it won’t be available right away. Special attacks and combos are difficult to trigger; and because of the impractical action menu, the combat is noticeably less fluid than in other action-oriented games.

I’ve found myself annoyingly returning to the combat menu whenever the game requires it because of the impractical combat controls. It has improved a little since the demo was released but hopefully, Square Enix will give the players future updates to improve the quality of life or provide a better solution to the interface in order to make the experience more fluid.

There are three modes: Performance, Quality, and Ray Tracing Quality. The Performance mode aims at 60fps but it has a difficult time maintaining optimal frames in some situations like when you’re in combat with a lot of magic effects. More importantly with the Performance mode turned on, the game will be rendered between 1440p and 720p so fuzzy areas are expected.

Sadly, despite being a current-generation game, it doesn’t feel like one because some graphical aspects look dated and the game stutters occasionally, even with Performance mode enabled. Other modes, such as Quality and Ray Tracing Quality, provide higher resolution at the cost of a lower framerate. Though there is very little difference between the quality of the raytraced ones to the other.

Another technical aspect to also note is the facial animations of the characters. With the advent of great motion captures and face acting, we expected a lot in this area which unfortunately was not delivered as most character expressions are stale and even robotic at times.

It is apparent that Forspoken has potential. There are highs and lows but it seems like the latter is more obvious. Unfortunately, despite the fact that a demo was released in December to solicit feedback from players, the game has not improved. Despite the ample amount of delay, the game has failed to deliver the quality that we expect from a large publisher like Square Enix. Yes, it is playable, but if you can ignore the flaws and focus solely on the unique blend of story and great traverse mechanic, it will make your time in Athia worthwhile.

Forspoken – Review
Score Definition
You better must choose if it’s worth spending your spare cash because it might not be the game for you and it might be for others.
Cool parkour mechanic
Great views and landscapes
Nailed the high fantasy setting
Technical stutters
Sluggish combat controls
Stale motion capture animations