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Forspoken Review (P.C & PS5)

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Forspoken Review

It’s been a long time coming. But Forspoken is finally here. Despite how tantalizing the trailer looked, we understand that you may still need more convincing before making that purchase. Well, not “convincing” per se, but a clearer picture of the good, the bad, and the ugly (if any) so you can make an informed decision. 

For those who don’t already know, Forpoken is a Square Enix action-adventure featuring RPG and open-world elements. There were two delays before now. First, May 24, 2022, turned into October 11, 2022. We’re just glad it’s finally here for us to break apart. Without further ado, here’s out Forspoken review, no sugar coating, whatsoever.

Forspoken in a Jiff

Forspoken - PlayStation Showcase 2021: Story Introduction Trailer | PS5

So, let’s be real here. Forspoken’s premise is more than promising (spoilers ahead)! You have a forlorn black teenager called Frey hustling her way around New York. It’s tough struggling to make ends meet, and she just can’t help wishing she were living someplace better. Then, lo and behold, our leading protagonist, Frey, runs into a talking magical bracelet. 

She puts it on and magically gets teleported to a fantasy realm called Athia. So, did her wish come true? Well, she has magical powers now, bestowed upon her by the weird talking bracelet she wears. She even calls the bracelet “Cuff” and onward, their adventure through the land of Athia begins.

It turns out Athia is nowhere near what she dreamed of. It’s completely bland and utterly lifeless. All thanks to a bleak that is wiping out all life and turning them into zombies. And therein lies your opponent throughout much of the game’s entirety. 

While adventuring through Athia, Frey runs into this one last remaining city, somewhat unscathed. The people here worship her for the way she seems immune to the bleak and for how she can kill the monsters in Athia. She’s a hero in their eyes, and so they plead with her to help take down four powerful rulers corrupting the city.

Please, Stop Talking

Forspoken Review frey and Cuff

I’m sure you’ve heard about some similar story patterns. A forlorn girl gets teleported to a fantasy world, acquires magical powers, and, consequently, lands the sole responsibility to stop some evil threat. Perhaps it’s the lackluster familiarity with Forspoken’s plot that led the developers to try to insert some pretty memorable dialogue, and not in a good way.

First, there’s the chemistry between Cuff and Frey. The two are almost always constantly bickering at one another. Instead of building loyalty and trust between one another, it’s the complete opposite sort of rant that takes full headway. I mean, there aren’t even times when the two would take the time to bond. 

And then there’s Frey, who just never knows when to shut up. She’s pretty rude throughout the game and throws way more than a reasonable number of f-bombs. I mean, there are protagonists who completely rock the “badass” vibe. But if this is the goal the writers were aiming for, then it’s a hell of a big miss. Frey comes off as utterly unlikeable to us, to the people, and hell, even to her sidekick “buddy,” Cuff. 

In the end, Forspoken can’t help but make you wonder, is there a way to play the game on mute? The music is good, though.

The Land of Athia… to What End?

We have to talk about Athia. After all, you’ll be seeing so much of Athia by the time you’re done. Fingers crossed, you don’t dream about it in your sleep. At first sight, Athia is completely bland and lifeless. It’s like massive squares of land that get slapped with all kinds of filters. And above it, this eerie sort of fog constantly hangs over it, presumably the bleak.

When you’re not chatting with the people left in the city of Cipal, you’re seemingly always running for miles to some point of interest. Seriously. Athia is an insanely large map that I may dare you to complete. Just know that there really isn’t much to see.

To try to motivate you to explore Athia, Forspoken designs side quests that essentially point out a target on the map and ask you to head on over there. So you start to sprint across rocky terrain, climb over obstacles, and use a grappling whip to whisk yourself across long distances.

You can digress from your side quest to check out Athia, but after a few too many explorative treks, it all starts to merge into one massively bland-looking land. Then, once you do one side quest or two, you start to realize how the gain versus loss barely compares. Are the side quests even worth it?

Fun and Flashy… at the Start

Forspoken Review

One of the pretty cool gameplay features in Forspoken is running. Frey uses Cuff’s magical abilities to traverse the lands, and boy is it so much fun to do. You could literally spend hours just skating over water, whipping yourself over long distances, and covering massive squares of land in a jiff.

Besides magical traversal abilities, Frey also has four combat options, based mainly on fire and earth. Although it takes quite a while to unlock all of her cool weapons, like her fire-based melee weapon that unlocks roughly a third of the way through the game, it’s still pretty cool swinging and striking enemies down. 

With that said, it’s pretty worrisome that the major thing that’s exciting, gameplay-wise, is traversal. Otherwise, the magical combat options feel dull. The hits feel floaty, which results in them feeling unsatisfying. During the first few fights, you already start to feel like you can’t wait to get this over and done with. By the time you’re in your later fights, it becomes just annoying to keep playing.

The Technicalities

Forspoken Review

Forspoken isn’t necessarily a bad game, no. Its story is straightforward. It tells rather than shows. The dialogue is lacking. It’s cringey, mostly. But, there’s something there that just needs more polishing. Perhaps having black writers work on Frey’s bit would have helped.

The same goes for the open world itself. It’s a neat concept to portray the eerie atmosphere of a world stricken with death. But, even bleak open worlds have interesting landmarks that draw you in. Athia is just about empty.

Aside from the mechanical and technical polishing, you’ll find most players have tried out Forspoken on PS5. That’s partly because the PC version has quite demanding requirements. The minimum RAM is 16 GB, with a recommended 24 GB. You also need a 720p/30fps option. Does anyone still use 720p?


There are four main things to say about Forspoken. The first is about the story, which sounds too familiar, and, consequently, is pretty unmemorable way past finishing the game. There aren’t any surprising twists or turns. In fact, the game pretty much assumes we’re already so invested in the characters and Athia that we’ll need no convincing to get on board.

Secondly, where’s the chemistry? A protagonist and a sidekick should get along well with one another. They should have trust and loyalty built over time spent bonding with one another. But Frey and Cuff, though. They put no effort into building respect, trust, loyalty, or anything else. Instead, they constantly deliver such cringey lines to one another, and pretty constantly too. I wonder, is this the developer’s way of trying to be funny, or should we just call it what it is: awful writing?

The combat too doesn’t hit the mark. Rather than feel crunchy, satisfying, and like every hit lands where it’s supposed to, Forspoken’s combat feels floaty, boring, and, eventually, annoying to play. Combat goes hand in hand with progression. Some sort of system to motivate you. But, I guess Forspoken doesn’t intend to grind. A weapon like the fire sword takes coursing through the third act of the game to unlock. And the side quests offer the least to motivate you to complete them.

And then there’s the open world of Athia. At first sight, the world looks bland. Some would even say “ugly. There isn’t much to look at or explore. It doesn’t invite you to learn more about it. This could have been forgivable were Athia not so huge, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to cover.



Forspoken Review (P.C & PS5)

A “Meh” Action Adventure to Consider

Forspoken is a recently released action-adventure by Square Enix featuring Frey Holland and her adventures through the fantasy land of Athia. The story is inspired by “isekai,” albeit it fails to nail the recipe the right way. Above all, it’s flashy and fun to play. Worth noting is that Athia does get pretty samey, and the combat doesn’t do much either to inspire replayability. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say you may have seen Forspoken before under a different name, so it’s probably not the best game to expect to blow your mind. However, there’s the kind of person who may enjoy using magical abilities to traverse vast lands teeming with fantasy creatures. For that person, I say, “Forge on.” Don’t let the negative reviews stop you from having an opinion of your own.


Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.