Review – Forspoken

Earlier this year, the internet had collectively decided to label Forspoken as the worst game of the year, the culprit for everything that was wrong with gaming, and so on and so forth. It almost made me want to test it out right away, just to see if it was indeed worthy of these titles, or if it was going to become yet another victim of internet hyperbole, like many other games in the past like Castlevania 64, E.T., Final Fantasy XIII, Contra: Rogue Corps, and many others. I took advantage of this year’s Steam summer sale to finally give Forspoken a go, only to realize what was already pretty obvious: it’s not that bad. The internet overreacted, as it seems. Shocking, I know.

Forspoken Frey

Frey did not irritate me. I actually ended up liking her a bit. Bring in the pitchforks.

That’s not to say that Forspoken is an underrated, misunderstood gem of a game. No, it has many issues. But at the end of the day, I considered it to be a largely fine, borderline inoffensive game. It has some interesting ideas, namely in its controls and moment-to-moment gameplay, and a plethora of issues. Most of them simply cancel each other out, resulting in what has been mentioned a few lines ago: it’s just “fine”.

The protagonist, Frey Holland, has been considered the Jar Jar Binks of this game, the one thing that ruined it altogether. She “spoke too much”, she “exaggerated on quips”, she “was downright unlikable”. My thoughts on her? I expected a lot worse. Maybe it was the fact this review is based on a updated version of Forspoken, which included an option to dial down on the amount of quips she spits out during gameplay (ranging from too much to none at all), but she has had more believable reactions than most modern-day characters thrown into the past. After all, Forspoken is nothing more than the bizarre love child between Alice in Wonderland and Army of Darkness.

I honestly thought that Frey, your typical wisecrack raised on the streets, reacted just like how you and I would when thrown into a medieval fantasy land and given actual superpowers. No need to be a stoic goody-two-shoes. She flips out in excitement when realizing she’s an actual superhero. Sure, with an overexaggerated amount of swear words. Her banter with the talking cuff was a mixed bag. Even though I do appreciate the Stephen Merchant-esque sense of humor coming from that sentient vambrace, it felt a bit odd. All of the other overly formal medieval characters did their job when interacting with Frey, but the cuff’s cynicism didn’t mesh well with the setting.


Yo, can you play Master of Puppets?

So that was a clear issue, but not a deal-breaker as initially expected. Not wanting to throw Frey out of the window made me realize that there was some kind of potential in Forspoken after all. That could be seen in two other elements: the story and the gameplay. The story was your bog standard isekai, but with the added benefit of a character having more realistic reactions towards what’s happening around her than most similar plots.

The gameplay is what impressed me the most. Let’s start off with the combat. It’s not the most innovative I have ever seen, but considering how Forspoken is a fast-paced game, where you control a super-powered loudmouth who runs around like a lunatic, I did enjoy how you could run around enemies and blast them with a wide variety of attacks. For the most part, Frey’s combat abilities are ranged, but I eventually unlocked more close-quarter mechanics, as well as some neat dodging tricks. Again, nothing groundbreaking, but robust, glitch-free.

Forspoken Combat

Run around enemies like a lunatic, blast them with ranged attacks, summon a giant flower with cannons to attack them… this combat ain’t half-bad.

The moment-to-moment gameplay was also surprisingly engaging, with some excellent parkour mechanics. Frey can run like a lunatic throughout the game’s vast, open spaces, jumping over walls and obstacles without a single issue. If anything, that’s what I liked the most about Forspoken: not unlike a Spider-Man game, just running around, aimlessly, was way more entertaining than it had any right to be. However, the problem lied in the world I was given to wander around.

In what is possibly the weakest aspect about Forspoken as a whole, the open world is somewhat bland, uninspired, and with weak sidequests to partake in. I never felt motivated to take part on any sidequests unless absolutely necessary. I just kept on playing the game for its story, first and foremost. Fetch quests and shallow side characters weren’t enough to motivate me to waste my time with these additional quests.

Forspoken Parkour

Excellent parkour mechanics on an otherwise bland-as-hell open world.

It didn’t help that the world itself wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of creative design. Forspoken looks… fine. Just like the rest of the game, the visuals are just merely decent. Some environments are decent, but I also noticed some textural and lighting issues. Characters were the highlight, at least when it comes to the quality of their models. Enemies, on the other hand… well, they just looked a bit too generic. Everything else was topped off with the fact that, at least in its current build, Forspoken runs surprisingly well on PC, with a vast array of graphical settings, and DLSS ensuring a stable framerate.


Frey, are you even 21?

If you were expecting for Forspoken to be the next worst thing in gaming, as the internet has stated in the beginning of the year, I’m sorry to disappoint you; the game is not that bad. More than that, I’d go as far as to say that I did enjoy it. The excellent parkour mechanics, decent combat, and the option to actually limit the amount of quips coming out from Frey’s mouth (a character way more likable than I was expecting, mind you) more than made up for the actual quality of the quips and the incredibly bland open world and sidequests. Forspoken was fine enough. The quintessential “decent and worth getting at half-price” game.


Graphics: 7.0

Not the most impressive display of current-gen tech and visuals, but it looks decent enough, some designs are cool, and the vast array of graphical settings (plus DLSS) allow for a very smooth experience. I did notice textural loading issues, though.

Gameplay: 8.0

Great combat and excellent parkour mechanics more than make up for the somewhat uninteresting open world exploration.

Sound: 6.0

Is the banter between characters irritating? Well, yes, but vastly less so than expected. Furthermore, the possibility of reducing the amount of non-custcene dialogue is something most games should include in the first place. The voice acting per se isn’t terrible, and the soundtrack is half-decent.

Fun Factor: 7.0

The story was quite interesting, the traversing mechanics are great, and Frey did not irritate me as much as I thought it would. The open world was quite barren and generic, but all in all, Forspoken was fine enough. The quintessetial “decent and worth getting at half-price” game.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Forspoken is available now on PS5 and PC.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.