When I first tried Forspoken at the Tokyo Game Show 2022 at a Square Enix private media session, the first thought that came into my mind was ‘cool!’. Then came ‘Holy crap this game is complicated’, ‘Why am I running all over the damn place?!’ and ‘Ok, this game has potential’.
Months later, and I finally got to play Forspoken from the very beginning.
Do I still think the game has potential? Or is it a missed opportunity?
What is Forspoken?
Forspoken is a single player 3D third person action RPG, developed by Luminous Studios (a subsidiary of Square Enix) and published by Square Enix. It’s available on the PC and a console exclusive for the Playstation 5.
Our copy of the game was provided by Square Enix! Thanks a ton guys!
For review of the game, we were running a rig off these specs:
– MSI B550M Mortar
– AMD Ryzen 9 5900X with NZXT Kraken X73 RGB Liquid Cooler
– MSI GeForce RTX 3080Ti Suprim X 12GB
– 64GB DDR4 RAM (Teamgroup T-Force Dark Z 16GB x 4 @ 3600MHz)
– Samsung 980 PRO 2TB SSD
Settings were all set to the maximum, with DLSS set to Balanced at 4K resolution.
A side mention; both our motherboard and GPU were awesomely sponsored by the great folks at MSI. I can honestly say the MSI GeForce RTX 3080Ti Suprim X 12GB is a hell of a GPU and more than worth its asking price. Great performance in games, looks damn cool with its RGB stylings too!
Thanks to MSI and their kind generosity, we’ll be reviewing more PC games now since we have the hardware to deliver a quality review experience.
While we usually review console titles, Forspoken is one of the outliers. There’s been much talk about how it needs boatloads of RAM so of course, we wanted to pit our new gaming rig against it!
The good news is that with 64GB of DDR4 RAM, we had no issues. All the gripes you might have heard on Reddit or Steam about slow loading (for stages and cutscenes), I encountered none of it.
Load times were about 4 – 6 seconds for open world exteriors, and 1 – 3 for interiors and dungeons. Loading for cutscenes were similar to interior loads, which is to say very fast.
The not so good news? The specs requirements aren’t just for show.
Even with our setup, we could only get about 64FPS average with the in-game benchmark!
Yeah, this game’s a beast so if you’re aiming to get the best out of it, make sure your rig is comparable to ours (or even better) to get a decent 4K experience.
Forspoken stars Frey, a New York street urchin who’s suddenly transported to the land of Athia. Athia’s a land besieged by what Frey dubs the Break, a corrosive miasma that mutates anything in its path into terrifying monsters.
All that’s left of humanity in Athia is huddled in the last human city of Cipal.
Frey is somehow unaffected by the Break and through the events of the game, eventually sets out to find the cause of the Break and get back home to New York.
Frey has new magical powers due to her bonding with a magical vambrace called ‘Cuff’. With Cuff’s aid, Frey can cast spells, and do magical parkour environmental traversal. It means Frey can run fast, jump far, swing from special rock outcroppings and pew pew everything with magic.
Arrayed against Frey are the former protectors of Athia, the Tantas. Each Tanta is now corrupted and it’s up to Frey to take the down one by one.
As each Tanta rules their own region of Athia, that means there’s a HUGE open world for Frey to explore. There are ruined towers to explore, deserted villages, dungeons…even super powered world bosses. It’s a bit like Elden Ring, if Elden Ring had a parkouring magic woman as its lead.
Unfortunately, I don’t really like Frey as a protagonist.
She’s sour, with a bad attitude and it’ll grate on you the longer you play. Thankfully, her companion, Cuff, is more likeable. Cuff’s deadpan English demeanor reminds me a lot of Vision (from the Marvel movies) and Niles (from The Nanny) and I naturally like him better than Frey.
Combat against the Break monstrosities is quite fun. Frey starts off with only a handful of spells (more get unlocked as you defeat the Tantas) so early combat is rather boring. Once you start getting the Tanta spells though, that’s when things get interesting.
Suddenly, combat is not just about using the same spell repeatedly.
It’s about comboing them together to get the most bang for your buck. Frey has a HUGE array of defensive and offensive magic and finding the right mix to use for the enemy (because all enemies have elements that they’re weak to) you’re facing at the moment is part of the game’s charm.
Parkour plays a heavy part in combat too. With stamina, Frey can dodge nearly every attack in the game when you hold down the parkour button. It’s incredibly cool to watch in action, especially when you know it’s all your doing.
I wish the game’s open world was as interesting as Frey’s dodges and feints.
To be frank; it’s dead. There are no friendly NPCs roaming around and all you do is basically run around finding stuff and killing Break monsters. Yes, it’s lore friendly but that doesn’t exactly translate to fun exploration.
It does have size on its side, but there’s not much to do in it other than finding treasures, solving puzzles, nabbing collectibles, finding outposts and dungeons to grab new gear and run around looking for mana concentrations (which are used to unlock new spells).
The size probably contributes to why the game has pretty hardcore requirements on the PC. With settings maxed out, the world stretches into the horizon with very little pop-in. You can be leagues across the map, and see enemies and buildings on the other end.
It’s technically impressive but expect severe framerate hits in these areas.
That and the combat looks beautiful! The game’s not shy in filling your screen with gorgeous particle effects when Frey parkours gracefully away or uses one of her spells.
It’s mesmerizing. It’s captivating. It’s also killer on the hardware.
There’s a crafting and upgrading system in the game, which is cool. Upgrading is pretty in-depth, as it allows you to attach special skills to your gear, which can be as simple as healing you after every enemy kill to generic stat buffs.
Incidentally, I love the way you upgrade the spells.
The game will give you certain conditions you need to meet to unlock stronger versions of each spell, which means completionists will have a ton of work ahead of them. The game really makes you use pretty much every spell in your arsenal if you want everything upgraded, there’s no ways around it.
Detours (what the game calls side quests) are a great break (heh…pun) from the monotony, but they’re few and far between. Each chapter usually has a handful of them and they’re nowhere near enough, especially if you’re taking your time.
The game’s made for cat lovers, because there’s a boatload of Detours that involve them. Those quests are some of my favourite in the game incidentally. Yes, I love cats. Why do you ask?
The best part of the game though has to be the Tanta boss battles. These are always multi-tiered fights with each Tanta having multiple forms and phases to battle through. When you win one, you really feel as if you’ve accomplished something monumental.
The Bottom Line.
Forspoken is fun in small doses.
Its open world is massive, but there’s not much of interest in it. The game definitely needs more in the form of narrative. More Detours would’ve been nice, I’d definitely like to learn more of Athia through them.
If you have a PC capable of running this at its best, then you’ll have a great time. If you have a potato though, forget it because much of what Forspoken brings to the table is visual and weak hardware will never do the game’s vistas justice.
Huge open world with breathaking visuals but needs more in terms of things to do and story.
- HUGE open world.
- Lots of spells to wield.
- Tanta fights.
- Beautiful particle effects.
- Boring open world.
- Hefty hardware requirements.