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'Forspoken' Preview: Show Stopping Combat In A World On The Edge Of Collapse

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'Forspoken' Preview: Show Stopping Combat In A World On The Edge Of Collapse

Put on your movie trailer voice in your head for this following sentence. From the developer that brought you Final Fantasy XV… comes a new game… that looks very like Final Fantasy XV. To be fair, Luminous Productions is only three years old and, aside from experiments to show off the power of the proprietary Luminous Engine, it hasn’t released anything apart from Final Fantasy XV

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Fortunately for me, Forspoken hasn’t got the intimidating weightiness of a 30-year franchise attached to it. In fact, the entire experience of Forspoken is marvelling at the aerial parkour, acrobatics and combat that our heroine Frey pulls off as she traverses the strange world of Athia. However, she’s not from round here. A young woman from New York who struggles to stay afloat on the streets of the city, Frey is presented with a choice that will change her life forever. And then she finds a portal to somewhere else. 

Check out the trailer that debuted at The Game Awards 2021 below!

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First things first, the art team gets all the points for her design. Mixing elements of her own style with the fantasticalness of this realm, her movement mechanics draw the eye to her sneakers and the beautifully reckless way she skips across rooftops and climbs cliffs in fractions of a second. These powers are thanks to the synergy she has with Cuff, a sentient bracelet that is anchored to her forearm. I don’t know how or why the two became connected at the moment but their contrast was a highlight of the battles we were shown. Cuff will call out helpful hints in combat as well as poking fun at Frey for being a fish out of water as she journeys through Athia, whereas Frey excitedly yells when using her powers and serves the snark straight back to Cuff. 

Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions
Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions

That being said, it seems like no one actually knows what’s going on in Athia. The Break (this story’s name for the monumental and inexplicable catastrophe that struck the world) is causing living creatures to be transformed into dreadful versions of themselves and consume everything in their path. And the Tantas, a group of powerful sorceresses who suddenly turned from their responsibility to protect and became tyrants instead, hone in on Frey as a trespasser in their lands. Every settlement is on the edge of collapse, eroding as they try to support refugees and survivors, and as our protagonist is immune to the Break’s effects, the inhabitants are distrustful of her to start with.

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Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions
Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions

I presume that, showing off her prowess in battle and stopping the Break from encroaching further into what remains of Athia's population, opinions on Frey will shift. It's here in the combat encounters that Forspoken shines. There are all sorts of exciting elemental abilities with according levels of sparkle and enemies will possess different resistances and weaknesses to her powers. Her capabilities can be changed with different cloaks offering different boosts to specific stats and even Frey’s nail designs (made with Break shards) will give her the edge in battles. She has a reserve of power, however, and her newfound parkour skills will drain this as well as her abilities, so battles are a balance of what is the most effective and the most entertaining to pull off. From shambling humanlike beings to prowling jaguars to terrifying creatures that appear to be made of razor-sharp glass, these are the things that stand in Frey's way to her understanding of how she is here in Athia and what its ultimate fate will be.

Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions
Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions
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One last thing - there are some curious buzzwords thrown here and there with regard to Frey. In 2021, what is a “badass female character”? Does it mean that she can fight? Does she have a roster of zingy one-liners to put people in their place? I'm assured that Frey is "relatable" because she's got a hard outer shell that's she's had to develop thanks to her rough childhood, and she's "scrappy" and "strong." While I'm looking forward to seeing more of Ella Balinska's performance, I'm worried that her character won't have the depth that the rest of Athia possesses. Of course, there’s likely to be a lot more to the story that Luminous Productions is holding back on, for now. And, I've not covered the fact that it has an enviable writing team including Rogue One's Gary Whitta and Uncharted's Amy Hennig, as well as actor Todd Stashwick and scriptwriter Allison Rymer. Personally speaking, it’s simply not enough to encapsulate someone who has a very complex identity with stock phrases from when dystopian young-adult novels were stacked mile-high on the shelves. That’s a long sentence, isn’t it.

Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions
Forspoken / Credit: Luminous Productions

Forspoken is definitely up your street if you enjoyed Horizon Zero Dawn and Final Fantasy (naturally). Nevertheless, I'm wanting to hear a little less conversation and see a little more action in the world that Luminous Productions has constructed with a hopefully unique heroine.

Featured Image Credit: Square Enix

Topics: PlayStation 5, PC

Imogen Donovan
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