Review – Foreclosed
Cyberpunk is not new to video games. For generations, games have presented this futuristic setting of augmented humans and giant mega corporations. The last nine months alone have seen CDPR and Neon Giant try their hands at it with Cyberpunk 2077 and The Ascent, with mixed results. So can Merge Games and Antab Studio stick the landing with their entry, Foreclosed? The answer is, “Ish.”
Playing as Evan Kapnos, you live in a world where people belong to corporations until they die or are able to pay for their freedom. Cybernetic implants and clearances dictate your every daily choice. Unfortunately, you begin the game waking up to the news that your company has mysteriously become bankrupt. Because of this, your identity and your clearances have been erased until you turn yourself in to be auctioned off to a new employer. This proves harder than you thought, since people are trying to kill you. With a little help, and some experimental implants, you set out trying to figure out who and why.
The best thing about Foreclosed is what you are first introduced to: its unique art style and direction. The world of Foreclosed is cel-shaded and vibrantly presented as a comic book. In fact, I found the less I saw it as a game that read as a comic book and the more I thought of it as a comic book that plays as a game, the more and more I truly enjoyed what Antab Studio did here. The majority of the game is in third person, but as certain comic panels open, it would go to side-scrolling or even a top-down perspective. This went a long way to make the game feel fresh.
Unfortunately, gameplay and characters don’t always feel nearly as fresh as the presentation and world. Kapnos finds himself thrown into a crisis and blindly trying to clear his name by rushing head first into one mission to the next, with little more context behind it. The voice over work is superbly cheesy but results in accentuating Kapnos as a shallow two dimensional hero. By itself, it isn’t a bad call, but already with little reason to care why you are doing these things, you are now adding a protagonist that is difficult to care about.
Combat feels like you should be getting into some fantastic shootouts; using interchangeable augmentations and Control style telekinesis in fierce shootouts. The reality is far more tame. Early on, you take damage so easily that you are forced to play defensively. Slowly creeping around corners for headshots and sneaking up on enemies to overheat their implants are the best course of action. You’ll find yourself in a shootout and popping your head up from cover more than once, before letting your health go back up, which can often result in death. This affected gameplay later, as I mostly stuck with the few augments that prevented this, like auto-aim, rather than tinkering with different ones.
The rest of the gameplay is fleshed out in a sophomoric yet surprisingly effective way. You can hack locked doors and platforms with a timed four character sequence of left, right, up, and down. You can also hack into turrets and surveillance cameras. Through levels, you may detect hidden objects to hack as well. None of this is complicated, but I found it subtly added the cyberpunk world and was a welcome change of pace that kept me invested without taking me from the game.
The end result of Foreclosed is, as I said, “ish”. It is a mixed bag, a good little game that stumbles to some fantastic moments. It’s an interesting game with some overall design issues. You breathe in a visually stunning world, both in design and in execution, but struggle to care about the who and why with a story that doesn’t pick up much after the opening act. Foreclosed is a game that absolutely has moments you will enjoy, but it will be deleted from your data banks not long after.
Absolutely stunning visuals that show a vibrant world and is key to the comic-book layout.
Simple mechanics allow you to jump right into the world and enjoy your cybernetic augmentations.
For the most part, the intentional, over-the-top, bad voiceovers work with the material, but they also inform you the game has no desire to be more than it is.
Fun Factor: 6.5
Puzzles can feel a bit too basic, while combat design can feel a bit too overwhelming. It forces you to rely on cover fire, or on a single combination or two for your upgrades and abilities.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Foreclosed is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4.
A copy of Foreclosed was provided by the publisher.