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What is it? An open world RPG steeped in otherworldly tropes.

Expect to pay: £64.99 / $69.99

developer: Luminous production

Publisher: Square Enix

commented on: Nvidia GeForce RTX3070, AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, 16GB RAM

multiplayer game? No

Association: (opens in a new tab)

In theory, Forspoken is a game that should have resonated with me. It’s a Luminous Productions/Square Enix joint venture, and despite its poor performance in recent years, I remain very loyal to the developer. It showcases some of my favorite things in life: nail art, cats, parkour, and badass matriarchs.

However, Forspoken was disappointed by his utter reluctance to break the mold. In many ways, this is exactly the type of game you’ve seen countless times over the past 15 years. An open world RPG featuring superpowers, mystical creatures, and terrifying apocalyptic threats. It does play on some isekai tropes, with main character Frey Holland swiftly leaving her home in New York and entering a fantasy world. Together with her talking bracelet partner, Cuff, she navigates Athia and Break’s world, which threatens to consume the land and everyone in it.

A-Frey will evolve

It’s a walking place, one that never goes anywhere particularly exciting. Its twists and turns feel predictable. A game story doesn’t have to have the clever plot twists of BioShock or Nier: Automata, but the premise of Forsaken Whispers often fails to be fun. For what it’s worth, though, I like the second half of the narrative.The start of the game is plagued by some choose Story beats, like making Frey a petty criminal who squats in an abandoned apartment and has some disturbing run-ins with a local gang. Once it stops focusing too much on who New York Frey is and puts more emphasis on Asia Frey, it becomes a more interesting story.

Despite a cringe-worthy trailer(opens in new tab) that showcases some creepy dialogue, Forspoken isn’t really full of moments that made me flinch with embarrassment. The dialogue in the infamous trailer from an early cutscene is by far the worst offender. Everything else is pretty standard, though that’s probably my longstanding immunity to Square Enix conversations like Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy.

Because I really like the character of Frey, it got even better. As a woman who also had some potty tendencies and struggled to fit in at a young age, I found her very relatable. Of course she said “fuck” too much, but so did I! She’s one of the most relatable heroes I’ve played in a game lately, and I really wish she’d played in a game that did her more justice. I also really like the rapport between her and Cuff, even if there’s a lot of back and forth between them. Fortunately, it can be adjusted in the settings or turned off entirely.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The most fun I had in Forspoken was when I ignored the story and explored Athia. Combat and movement are the best parts of the game, with Frey able to parkour around the world at lightning speed and cast spells of different elements at the enemies that inhabit it. Running around the map, jumping over cliffs, and flying at speed is really good. But put the thing a little closer and it gets finicky, with Frey constantly bouncing off walls and short platforms. I can just sit there and wait for her to calm down and get back to Earth, which really breaks my flow at times. Parkour is also bound to Left Ctrl by default, which is a very inconvenient location for a button used to traverse the world and dance around enemies. I ended up rebinding it after about 15 hours, my poor wrist buckling under the constant twisting.

Forspoken’s magic encompasses the four basic elements — earth, fire, water, and air — with support and damage-based spells at Frey’s fingertips. I had a lot of fun dodging or flipping over enemies, shooting a huge spiked boulder at their backs, or lifting them into a bubble that when shot would do them any misfortune Deals a huge area attack to nearby allies. I’d love to see these elements play together and react more to each other, but what’s most frustrating is that you don’t get access to the full kit until the end of the game.

Now, I can hardly blame a game for not showing up until the very end – I’m a regular defender of Final Fantasy 14’s slow start, and I’ve counted a lot of JRPGs in my lifetime. But Forspoken is probably much better if you spend 25 hours into the game and feed it to you 15 hours earlier. You don’t get the last set of spells until the final boss appears, which was a huge oversight on my part. The way your actions are presented to you in the narrative makes sense, but it feels terrible to keep the game engaging throughout its run.

nailed it

Enemies are fun, and some are weak to certain types or magic, or susceptible to status ailments. When they’re not scattered around the world, they’re scattered in very tedious repeatable dungeons or forts around the map in Ubisoft-style objective-based pitstops. These at least offer rewards in the form of cloaks, necklaces, and different nail arts that Frey can equip to boost her health, magic, and defense. But the dungeons are all the same, rarely offering much of a challenge. Jump into an instance area, run down the hallway to an enemy room and beat them up. Rinse and repeat. Strongholds are much the same, except they take place in the main world.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Mutants are my favorite part of fighting in Forspoken–huge, super-strong beasts that populate the world. They’re some of the toughest enemies I’ve encountered throughout the game, but I’ve also found them to be a great way to develop memory patterns and hone dodge timing. At least, until I can even figure out what’s going on between stutters.

i have an absolute mission Trying to get Forspoken to work well on my PC resulted in severe frame drops every time I entered combat. I don’t have a bad rig by any means, my biggest flaws are lack of RAM and weird system requirements for games. By default, it let me choose the standard graphics settings, but I could barely pull anything above 12 fps during combat or while in a major capital city.

In fact, during my 32-hour playthrough, there was a long stretch of tirelessly tinkering with settings. The PC port of Forspoken is horribly optimized, and it feels like nothing I’ve done has made it run any better. There are some pretty serious texture rendering issues that get worse when trying to play at my usual 1440p.

Stones flicker in the blink of an eye, doors twist as characters speak. I’m constantly running below 20fps and stuttering, which makes me nauseous when I start playing the game. It’s a real waste of my early game play, especially when combat is affected so badly. In the end, I had to give up on making Forspoken look good and go all in on making it play better. If my screenshots here look like ass, that’s why.

felines are fine

Forspoken may be more than that. I wish Luminous Productions would take inspiration from their other game, Final Fantasy XV, and create fewer but more elaborate dungeons for me to explore. Instead, too much of the gameplay feels like a generic objective collection marathon. If I’m not distracted by getting new gear between points A and B of my story objective, I’m taking a quick detour to get a stat boost for a monument or quickly explore an abandoned building, destroying its enemies and Get a new knowledge point that I have on file.occasionally if i go real Avoiding my path, I could find spells locked behind specific objective markers around the map.

One stuffer destination that I really love and go out of my way to do is Cat Monument. They don’t contribute anything to the gameplay, they exist only as companions, and they greet Frey when she goes into a break to recover her health and upgrade her gear. But I’m a bit of a cat lover, and as I write this review, my own feline friend, Luna, is right next to me. I love those fur babies that look a little spooky and have their own little fantasy flair. One black cat in particular stole my heart, adorned with gold bracelets and horns. The only part of Forspoken’s story that tugs at my heartstrings also revolves around a cat, and their inclusion is more than welcome.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The biggest mistake I made during Forspoken was exploring too much early on. If you’re going to play it – and I do think it’s a game worth the discount…and depending on your gear, possibly on console too – take a quick look at the story. The real fun comes when you get into the post game and you have access to Frey’s full gear. As I spent hours wielding one or two of my spells, I lamented how painful it was to fight. I think my time in Forspoken would have been more enjoyable if I had gotten more elements earlier, or had just overlooked the side quests in favor of accessing these.

This is a game that is most fun when you disobey its commands. There’s no sudden stop with fade-in and fade-out cutscenes, nor does the game randomly freeze you in place when you initiate a conversation, which can easily happen on the move. Once freed from the grip of its powerless narrative, I finally felt like I was playing the game Forspoken was trying to be. Don’t get me wrong, freedom doesn’t overshadow the lackluster game objectives. But hey, it does help.

A game shouldn’t end to feel like it’s just begun. Unfortunately for Forspoken, that’s exactly what happened.

Forspoken: Price Comparison

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.