Forespoken is a game about movement and running. The protagonist Frey begins the game running from the law and debt collectors. He is also in the midst of planning to flee New York City with a gym bag full of cash. Amidst all that chaos, she falls into the land of Athia and is eager to leave for the new, mysterious world where she has extraordinary superhuman combat and running abilities. Moving from place to place is the high point of Forspoken, and while no other element quite reaches the height of how fun it is to run and climb, Frey’s adventures are not without their highlights.
Unfortunately, Forspoken makes a bad first impression. Athia’s environments look great, as does Frey when she moves around the world, but zooming in closer to cutscenes reveals some rough textures. The dialogues are also punchy and the storytelling is very transparent. From Frey’s cat, Homer, to the little girl who wins over Frey’s heart by stealing his phone in Athia, every character’s role as a means of humanizing Frey is very clear, and her frequent and frequent use of the protagonist’s call Stubborn denial is very difficult. Thankfully, Forspoken’s story and dialogue improve the deeper you get.
Lastly, I liked Freya’s overly vulgar and combative nature and her antagonistic relationship with the cuff, her invisible partner who lives on her wrist. I also enjoyed the zoomed-out main path of the story. None of the twists were particularly surprising, but they were well executed and helped explain why Frey is so angry and why she’s so insistent on not being a hero, even That when everything was clearly demanded it proceeded in that direction. I was also happy with where the game leaves Frey at the end, both from a character relationship perspective and from a post-game gameplay perspective.
The combat is consistently mediocre. Forspoken is an action game, but calling it a third-person shooter wouldn’t be out of line, as most of Frey’s abilities act like magical guns. Frey has dozens of abilities to swap between on the fly, and exploiting enemy weaknesses means you’re encouraged to do just that. I found a few I liked, but success often meant switching to a dull weapon I didn’t particularly want to use. Changing capacity is complicated; Even at the end of the game, I had to stop and think about which buttons I’d need to hold to access certain weapons.
The handful of boss Frey encounters is also generally overwhelming. They feature interesting designs and attacks that look great in motion but leave little room for a tactical approach. I mostly hit them with as many magic bullets as I could. The final boss encourages some overdue strategy, and spikes in challenge for my most memorable encounter.
Where the story and general combat are hit-and-miss, the movement is excellent. Running through Athia and leaping over buildings feels great, and some extra speed abilities make things even easier. An early upgrade that allows Frey to perform longer jumps with well-timed button presses, making his movements even faster and smoother. I went out of my way to track down every movement upgrade, and nearly all of them were substantial and fun. That joy of movement is integrated into combat, where even if it doesn’t feel like shooting, dodging and leaping over enemy heads is a must.
Exploration is also enjoyable, thanks to the helpful automatic waypoint numbering system. For example, on my way to a main destination, I’ll mark a handful of places to check out along the way and not have to go back to the map because of the numbers. Some locations even allow you to do this by looking into the distance without entering the map at all. The rewards are worthwhile by offering new cloaks and items and even by large stat boosts just for finding special locations.
Forspoken’s story and combat fail to reach the heights of its movement and exploration, but thankfully the latter two elements make up most of the experience. I sprinted, often literally, through the campaign in about 15 hours, and now I have a big world full of nooks and crannies that I’m eager to run and explore. The narrative wouldn’t stick with me, and I often avoided combat in the open world, but I loved watching Frey leapfrog and fly through Athia to discover all of its treasures and secrets.