Last year Luminous Productions and Square Enix revealed their new open world action RPG Forspoken. The game’s premise is that a young woman from New York gets transported to a fantasy world and gains magical powers that she must use to save the world. For the past year Forspoken has sort of been a laughing stock in locations such as Twitter. The reason has almost entirely been because of the game’s dialogue which is full of snark and sarcastic humor in an era where the internet has begun to reject the style.
I’ve never been one to just look at and agree with internet trends though. Where everyone else just saw a sparky protagonist I saw a video game that may be worth picking up. While it’s true that the game industry is full of open world games its hard to name many good high fantasy ones other than the Elder Scrolls or the Witcher, so I was immediately interested.
However, I wasn’t interested enough to just pick up the game at full price next month. The year is 2022 and video games are really expensive man! Thank God this is one of the rare few modern games to get a sizeable demo or else this might have fallen off my radar entirely. Speaking of which, let’s talk about that demo!
The demo wisely doesn’t start you at the beginning of the game but rather let’s you play a segment in the middle. I know people generally like demos that give you the beginning of the game and let you carry over save data but I prefer this system as I personally feel a majority of games do not have strong openings. However, that’s a discussion for another day.
Let’s get into what you want to hear about now, the gameplay. Frey controls pretty smoothly and runs at a pretty good speed. Combat can feel a bit clunky at first as everything slow down as you’re selecting which spells to use but once you have gotten used to the mechanic you will be able to switch on the fly and keep the pace of combat at a brisk speed.
Speaking of those spells, I am currently having a pretty fun time using them. On your R2 button you have several attack spells with instant gratification such as an energy sword to slice at enemies or a rapid fire of small energy bullets. While on your L2 button you’ve got some more support style attack spells such as a flower that shoots enemies for you or creating a circular wall of fire around you and an enemy.
You have two sets of spells in the demo designated as Sila’s and Frey’s, each with their own attack and support spells. While I had fun with both I really wish I could mix and match them as I often found myself wanting to use one of Sila’s support spells while using Frey’s magic and vice versa.
Other gameplay mechanics in the demo that I feel are worth highlighting are how spells upgrading and equipment work. Spellcraft is a system I only sort of understand because this demo lacks a tutorial for it but it appears you can select up to three challenges at a time such as shooting enemies while in parkour mode and completing these challenges will upgrade your spell. If I understood this mechanic correctly then I can see myself having a ton of fun with it as I have always loved filling out checklists of tasks that involve a game’s main combat mechanics.
I was also delighted to see that the game’s equipment system changes what clothes Frey is wearing as well as her stats. I always love it when games actually make equipment look different. Although I’m a bit of a basic batch in this regard as I can see myself wearing nonoptimal equipment for my playstyle simply because I think her blue cape looks better than the other outfits. However I probably will choose what color nails Frey has based on her stats as that is not as noticeable. Yes, there is a nail color option in the equipment menu and I demand all games have that from now on!
As Forspoken is an open world game let’s now move on into what the game will live or die on, it’s open world experience. I may enjoy the gameplay but if the world the gameplay is in isn’t designed well then its all for naught. The demo offers a really good slice of this game’s open world. You are immediately given 5 different objectives that will show off what this world has to offer.
You can find a small pool to dive in that will teach you a new parkour power, you free a shrine from some evil vines which increases one of your stats, you fight two hordes of enemies in two locations clearly built for these horde battles, and you take a picture of some scenery in a specific location.
I had a lot of fun with all five of these tasks! Aside from the last two they were all very close together to make for a quick experience of hopping from objective to objective and I absolutely love the idea of learning new parkour tricks or perhaps via exploring the world and I have always loved when video games incorporate photography!
The two horde battles are pretty nice too, unlike most fights like these in open world games where you’re either fighting a small handful of enemies that take a long time or a crowd of enemies that fall within seconds Forspoken hits a good sweet spot of a fair few enemies that all take some effort to beat without overstaying their welcome!
Another thing I really appreciate about this open world is that music actually plays in it. I have gotten very tired of video games being silent so I am very happy that Forspoken’s ost has proven to be good so far!
I do have a few small problems with the open world design though, while I do think most of this area was designed well giving me two objectives in slightly different directions that require me to either backtrack or fast travel because there is only one way back to the huge bridge is never fun.
Another pet peeve I have is how getting materials for the crafting system works. Like most open world games of this generation you must press a button, in this case triangle, you gather the items. I have always found this to be a pacekiller and feel that games such as Xenoblade Chronicles and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot had a much wiser design choice when they had you just run over the item to gather it.
Overall though, I greatly enjoyed Forspoken’s open world experience! That in combination with some smooth gameplay that will be very fun to experiment with makes me look forward to this game much more than I was before! If this vertical slice of the game is of the same quality as the rest then Forspoken has the potential to be one of the best open world games of 2023!
This game’s marketing definitely hasn’t been the best and I imagine most people were in a position like me where even if they were curious about the game they weren’t going to purchase it. That’s why demos are a beautiful thing, they exist to help people like me get a better grasp on games that a trailer just cannot convey!
If you are on the fence about Forspoken then I highly encourage you to download the demo. It’s only about 45 minutes long so it won’t take up much of your day but it will help you decide if this game is worth buying or not. I for one will be picking the game up day one and will hopefully be back in late January with a positive review. I’ve been Skeith from the Story Arc and I thank you for reading