Review – F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch
I know some of you out there, including some of my WTMG colleagues, have been waiting for F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch for a while, but I had never heard of it until about a week or so ago. With that being said, the moment I saw its trailer and some of its gameplay footage, I was immediately sold. I was craving a brand new metroidvania that would take advantage of the power of the PlayStation 5, and that edgy dieselpunk furry insanity looked to be exactly what wanted. Now that I’ve played it, I can attest it was everything I could have hoped for and even a bit more.
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch is set in a bizarre alternate reality full of anthropomorphic animals living in what can only be described as LITERALLY Midgard from Final Fantasy VII, under the watchful eye of Shinr…, I mean the Machine Legion. You control Rayton, an edgy-as-hell rabbit whose voice sounds like a mix between Cloud and Master Chief from Halo. He sets out on a journey to find one of his friends who just got kidnapped by said Legion. As to be expected, the plot unfolds and becomes a lot more complex later on. While there are some moments that felt a bit vague or cliché, I certainly wasn’t expecting to care so much about a grumpy rabbit wearing a mech suit.
What we have here, in theory, is a traditional metroidvania adventure in the sense of Metroid Fusion. The world is open for you to explore as you will, as long as you have the necessary items to do so, but it is also “split” in parts and is objective-based, with a marker in your map helping you navigate through the maze-like environment of Torch City. In terms of movement, however, F.I.S.T. borrows some inspirations from a completely different franchise: Mega Man. Most specifically, Mega Man X, with its huge emphasis on continuously hopping on walls and dashing in its platforming.
The combat isn’t inspired at all by Mega Man, though. At first, Rayton’s suit can only attack with a fist-shaped attachment, allowing you to perform Platinum-like combos with two different attack buttons and grab, with more combos unlocked in specific terminals. You can acquire new weapons along the way, which not only allow you to face enemies with different strategies, but also allow you to unlock specific context-sensitive doors, exactly like the ones in the Metroid series. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s so well designed, with responsive controls and a very competent progression system, that I can’t help but praise the hell out of it.
The world of F.I.S.T. is surprisingly immersive. You’re not simply exploring a hodge podge of corridors crafted without rhyme nor reason. The city of Torch is believable, as much, if not more, than Midgard itself, with areas representing the streets, vertical slums with secret passages, the sewers, military bases, and so on. Without a doubt, the quality of the level design is what I liked the most about F.I.S.T., and it’s not like this game is short on things to praise.
Its presentation isn’t half-bad either, although it does suffer from what I can only assume is some kind of budgetary constraint. Despite being insanely good looking, especially when it comes to its environments and character animations, a few of F.I.S.T.‘s assets and (most notably) particle effects look a bit cheap, a bit too “Unreal generic”. It is more noticeable during cutscenes. Thankfully, the game runs absurdly smoothly with a rock-solid 60fps framerate. I did not like its excessive usage of motion blur as well, which cannot be turned off. A major oversight, in my opinion.
The same can be said about F.I.S.T.‘s sound design. It’s pretty good, but you can see some issues related to a slightly underwhelming budget. Its music is outstanding, I have absolutely no qualms with it, both in terms of variety and quality of the compositions. Sadly, the voice acting is a bit hit-or-miss. It’s not outright terrible and I was actually shocked with the sheer amount of voice acting included in here, but you can see some issues in the quality of the recordings and their mixings. Some characters also sounded like they were voiced by amateurs. Pretty good amateurs, don’t get me wrong, but the point still stands.
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch came from out of nowhere and captivated me with its fantastic controls and map design. Even if its story and voice acting can be a bit dull at times, its presentation and gameplay more than make up for any budgetary setbacks found along the way. If this is what we should expect from metroidvanias in this upcoming generation of games, then F.I.S.T. has already set the bar very high and for that I’m thankful.
Some of its assets and particles look a bit too “generic Unreal”-ish, but its character design, animations, performance, and backgrounds are all great, even for PS5 standards. I did not like its excessive usage of motion blur though.
The gameplay and momentum from the Mega Man X series coupled with an excellent metroidvania level design and progression system result in an incredibly enjoyable platformer with deep combat mechanics.
Even if F.I.S.T.‘s voice acting is a bit uneven at times, it’s way better than initially expected. Its soundtrack is also pretty good.
Fun Factor: 9.0
Even if its story is a bit basic at times and there is a lot of pointless backtracking, I had a blast with F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch, all thanks to its great gameplay and amazing setting.
Final Verdict: 9.0
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch is available now on PS4 and PS5.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch was provided by the publisher.