Right. We all know Abandoned like the game that was perpetually delayed, was mocked for its silly trailers, and was somehow left out to die. This is a fair comment, right? A cursory glance at any of the popular game boards, or social media, will instantly tell you that Forspoken isn’t anyone’s most anticipated game. It’s a curiosity, at best. A game that people are gleefully watching, expecting it to fail, at worst.
But what if I told you that, actually, it’s not that bad? That, when you get your hands on it, does it feel really OK to play? Playing Frey, the young black woman who escaped from New York and dumped in the land of Athia, you have the task of helping the people of a dying land to return home. He is the Wizard of Oz through all the JRPG tropes you’d expect from the studio that made it Final Fantasy 15.
The main idea is your use of magic. A sentient bracelet has bonded with you and acts as your mentor-friend in these strange new worlds. He also talks about shit, constantly, but the incessant jokes aren’t really as bad as you’ve been led to believe by all the shady memes and trailers. In context, it’s actually – whisper it – quite fascinating. No worse than what you endured in Borderlands, Borderlands 2, Borderlands 3 or Tales from the Borderlands, Battleborn, Tiny Tina’s … you get it.
And then here’s what it looks like: This is a PS5 and PC only game, and it shows. Forspoken is not burdened by the constraints of the latest generation and the result is a title that looks truly fantastic and sounds like nectar in your hands. The studio’s focus on making parkour feel magical – and empower you with over 100 usable spells – combines to give you a treat for the eyes and, erm, fingers. There are tons of particle effects, Frey’s cloak waving in the heat as he sets fire to enemies, sky reflections mirroring themselves in the water as your camera turns to watch you finish off one of the lurking enemies, all dressed in black and gold.
All of this – this dedication to making it beautiful – is all because Luminous Productions has been working with this technology for over a generation at this point.
“The Luminous Engine is, of course, an engine we created for Final Fantasy 15 – and we’re using the same engine now, for Forspoken,” says Forspoken co-director Takefumi Terada via interpreter Square Enix. “But we’ve been working since then to make all sorts of improvements and all sorts of tweaks, both in terms of graphics, and in terms of optimization, stuff like that.
“And one area where we really feel the difference is how we can now recreate, with 100% fidelity and power, the artist’s vision. The artist’s vision, exactly: we can make things look exactly as we imagine them on consoles. ”
This game is great publicity for the PS5: as well as all the effects you generate with your different spells, whether it’s shattering the earth beneath you, creating fire domes to surround your enemies or sending lightning tentacles. that bounce between everything: you can quickly run from one place to another. In my more than an hour of playing time, I haven’t seen any pop-ins, graphics bugs, or malicious animations. This may be a game criticized for its seemingly “cheap” genesis, but you don’t see any of that when you’re actually sitting in front of it.
“I think the most important point for us about the performance of this game can be seen in the magically enhanced parkour,” continues Terada. “It’s super high-speed, fast-paced action, and it also lets you traverse the map at great speeds. And that’s something we’ve really only been able to achieve thanks to the PS5 and this kind of next-generation hardware. It has opened up many capacities for us. So I hope it’s something that resonates with the players. ”
Of course, the game was something a little different when it was first conceived – the team that created it was originally founded by Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata before he left the team to devote himself to game development. With his departure, Forspoken has also transformed, but that change seems to be a good thing. Terada tells me that despite the changes the game has undergone, this focus on making it fast, fun and easy to learn has always been at the heart of what Forspoken is.
“I think, of course, there have been some changes from the early stages of development, but in terms of that fundamental concept – of the fantasy world and real life coming together in a kind of fusion – I think it’s something we have.” carried the flag “for, picked up and ran with, and it’s something we’ve definitely achieved in the game as it approaches launch.
“I think one of the biggest lessons for us since Final Fantasy 15 has been the idea of making a game that is easy to understand, or at least easy to understand. We really wanted to create a game where players could understand and spot what’s there right away. it’s so addicting. So they could just jump into it. ”
From my time with Forspoken, I think the Luminous team has achieved this; I was dumped in the game for more than a few hours and was able to use all the spells, read all the enemy attacks, complete my mission and search for the hidden super boss that was hidden at the end of the level. This enormous crocodile struggled and struggled, but between setting him on fire, beating him with clods of earth, and knocking out seven shades of snot with a magical whip coming out of my hateful cuff, he had no escape. And when I was told to leave – to stop complaining about this poor reptile – I was genuinely sad. I wanted more, more!
Yes, Forspoken looks like a game designed by a committee, to some extent. But there is a spark here, a soul rooted deep within whatever this game is. I think it’s clear that there are elements of this game that have undergone scrubbing in the game’s development process, but the result is something that is likely to attract a small and loyal following – a game that could very well become one of the early cult hits of the game. it was PS5, if Square Enix manages to land.
Forspoken will launch for PC and PS5 on January 24, 2023.