CGMagazine was given the chance to watch a preview of the title, solidifying the marriage between Square Enix and Luminous Productions, the upcoming Action-RPG title Forspoken, and of course, we jumped on that opportunity.
The preview started with the two lead writers of Forspoken, Allyson Rymer and Todd Stashwick giving us a heads-up on how exactly the title went from the idea phase into production. “Some really badass women characters” outline the narrative Allyson explains, including “different perspectives elevated the story so much,” while Todd says “These are the worlds we love to play in,” adding “to not build on someone else’s world, to build on our own,” is the key to the collaborative effort while creating Forspoken.
They then went over the main character of Forspoken, Frey Holland (played by Ella Balinska), and how she’s an orphan living in New York City, and she dreams to get out of there. Her best friend is a cat named Homer, inspired by the ancient author of The Odyssey. On the cusp of her 21st birthday, she finds her dream come entirely true when she’s magically transported to the vast world of Athia. Her new companion is simply named ‘Cuff’ after being exactly what it is, a golden cuff she wears, and it helps her on her journey across the vast and breathtaking world.
The beginning of Forspoken shows our hero Frey wandering through an architecturally Roman-inspired area. A blight on the world, known as “The Break” has dismantled humanity in the world of Forspoken. Although this area wasn’t meant to be a bustling city (called Cipal), it seems to be the last bastion of humanity, housing the surviving refugees of The Break. The city seems to be free of the blight, but its effects linger as everyone either seems poor or is dressed in rags that couldn’t stop the warm wind from hugging the resident’s bodies. The city is barren feeling, but very believable in design.
The Break in Forspoken either kills whoever comes into contact with it or turns them into monsters. Frey can uniquely enter The Break outside the city limits without deadly harm. Monstrous creatures that were once animals populate this blighted area outside of civilization, it’s fair to assume that everything in the break wants to kill you because it does. The Break wilderness is extremely hostile and battle seems commonplace for Frey’s survival, luckily she has a plethora of magic at her disposal.
Frey can level up her abilities, the HUD while in combat is easy to understand, with abilities being located on the lower right. This is referred to as the Nail system. The ring menu can be utilized to cycle through spells, and her magical abilities are Frey’s only weapons. The spells look gorgeous, and the water effects are stunning. Although sometimes fire and water can look choppy in some titles, in Forspoken, it is perfectly shown.
“The preview for Forspoken left me with the impression that this game is in amazing hands.”
Shelters are resting points for Frey, and the shelters include crafting, a staple in Action-RPG gameplay. This can allow for the creation of necessary items on Frey’s quest, or even to upgrade gear. The map screen is a nice 3D diorama that shows the biome Frey is currently in. This is a huge upgrade to the 2D map screens we see in most titles. The level-up screen in the menu to acquire new abilities reminds me of the Final Fantasy X sphere grid, but less convoluted and more streamlined to make the process more easy and engaging.
When changing Frey’s equipment, it visibly changes as well. Many cloaks can be acquired and worn that offer new bonuses for combat or travel. Frey can also augment her magical abilities by changing the colour of her nails, which is a unique aspect of this title and can greatly expand on possible load-outs or builds for gameplay. The customization aspect of building a player’s unique Frey is vast, and many players will definitely not have the same build for their playthrough.
Exploration of Athia is delightful in Forspoken. Magic parkour is not only unique, but it is how Frey gets around Cipal or the Athian wilderness. Moving not only looks simple, but it looks fun. Racing up the side of a building, jumping from roof to roof, even running in the vast openness of the landscape is breathtaking. The Cuff that is Frey’s companion throughout the adventure is full of words.
There are constant back-and-forths between Frey and the Cuff, which are actually charming and welcome. Many companions of the same nature have been considered to overstay their welcome, such as Navi from Ocarina of Time. The Cuff is fun to listen to. Frey taunts enemies while in combat and the Cuff helps with the insults, which shows a developing bond that is fun to follow.
Combat is so smooth and fluid while selecting spells in real-time, the time actually slows, so a tactical approach can be utilized. Magic parkour can be used during battle to evade enemy attacks while combining magical spells to destroy enemies with a flourish. During one encounter, Frey utilized fire kicks, water bursts, root earth-based spells, flaming javelins, and even a flaming sword slam; there are MANY different combat options. Break storms happen while exploring the Break wilderness, and powerful enemies appear. These are some of the most dangerous situations to find yourself in.
The end gameplay shows Frey face an enemy called a Jabberwock, which is a fearsome beast that shoots lasers out of its head, or as we gamers call it, a boss fight. This enemy is way more vicious than the common fodder outside the break storm, and the confrontation appears to be too much for Frey as the player of the demo succumbs to the monster’s furious onslaught.
The preview for Forspoken left me with the impression that this game is in amazing hands. The atmosphere, the combat, even Frey’s highly relatable potty mouth while beating on enemies feels just right. The menus are not cumbersome, and the landscape is done fashionably. As Luminous Productions’ first foray into game development, this is as good as a title can get. The worst part about Forspoken so far? We, as fans, have to wait for the game to release to get our hands on it. Excited indeed.