Frey in Forspoken

Forspoken Review

Published: January 23, 2023 9:00 AM

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For years now, PlayStation has been an incredible ecosystem for fast-paced third-person adventure games to call home, and Forspoken fits right into the prestige selection that already dominates the PlayStation 5's library. This timed console exclusive published by Square Enix set ambitious goals and did a good job of meeting them, but not without a few technical stumbles along the way. Forspoken's gameplay and parkour mechanics are incredibly satisfying, even though there are some difficulties that take away from the overall experience. We'll get into everything you need to know in our Forspoken review.

Forspoken Review: Frey in Athia

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Forspoken Gameplay: Parkour Traversal Is Unbelievably Fun

No doubt the best-marketed aspect of Forspoken has been the parkour traversal, and the game absolutely delivers. Many players had the opportunity to check out the parkour for themselves when the Forspoken demo dropped, and it's clear that the mystical world of Athia was fully designed around Frey's movement capabilities. My favorite moments in this game were spent sprinting across the landscape and ascending up cliffs with impressive ease.

Like any good RPG, Frey's parkour skills start off simple and get built up over time. Thankfully, upgrades in Forspoken are not hard to come by, and before long you can add extra leaps and jumps while climbing up cliffs or use a grapple ability to grab onto various points. The grapple ability is particularly helpful as it can be used to effectively eliminate fall damage, encouraging players to take even more risks while exploring everything Athia has to offer.

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However, the parkour isn't without its idiosyncrasies. Once you get going, it can be difficult to stop. On more than one occasion during my Forspoken playthrough, I ended up falling off a cliff, or running straight into an enemy that I was trying to avoid. Figuring out the parkour mechanics is one of the biggest learning curves I encountered, but in time it is possible to master the fast and fluid movement of Frey's abilities, making Forspoken a perfect candidate for speedrunners looking to knock down the play clock.

It's refreshing to see that the Forspoken open world was designed to accommodate Frey's parkour movements. Speaking of which, Athia has lots to do for any incoming player. 

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Forspoken Review: Frey in Athia Mountains

The Forspoken Open World Is Vast, But Not Without Faults

I absolutely encourage anyone who picks up this game on day one to check out all the Forspoken side quests (or detours, as they're called). Dive into fountains, follow cats, take photos, feed hungry sheep, and enjoy the experiences that Athia has to offer. There are some amazing places to discover and abilities to unlock, and you can't expect to unleash the full potential of Frey's powers without spending considerable time combing the map. 

All that being said, the main flaw of Forspoken is that it tries too hard to streamline where to go. There will always be a clearly marked objective point to follow, and most points of interest are labeled on your map, making it easy to set a waypoint and sprint from Point A to Point B. This makes the experience feel more like crossing tasks off a checklist than organically exploring the world, and that's a little disappointing. Not to say there aren't genuine surprises to discover in Athia, there certainly are, but a more hands-off approach to the map would have been beneficial. Of course, the developers aren't forcing you to check the map for every little thing, so players still largely have a good deal of control over how they explore. 

As for the world itself, there are definitely some flaws: colors are muted in some places, and low-res textures in Performance and Ray-Tracing modes can noticeably blur the picture. You can get around this by sticking to Quality mode, but locking the frame rate in a game designed around fluid movements feels like a disservice. The upside is that there are some truly gorgeous areas to discover, and those who enjoy climbing up rocky mountains or getting lost in lush forests will love the diversity that the Forspoken world has to offer. 

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Definitely take the time to explore; it's important to not let the story pass you by too quickly. Forspoken's story can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, far quicker than you would anticipate for an open-world game. But don't rush through it. In a game all about speed, don't forget to slow down and enjoy the experience.

Forspoken Review: Frey in Trouble

Forspoken's Story Is Surprisingly Simple But Effective

Of all the marketing that has been done for Forspoken, the actual story is one of the things the development team has been the most tight-lipped about. That is surprising, as it's one of the strongest elements. Frey's life as a struggling New Yorker with a criminal record is beautifully punctuated by her attempts to make better choices and leave the city for good with her cat Homer.

Everything about Frey evokes sympathy from the player, from her inability to escape her criminal associates to hitting rock bottom near the very tunnel where she was discovered as a baby. It's during this difficult time that she finds an unlikely friend: Cuff, a wrist accessory that binds itself to her just before she tumbles down the rabbit hole into Athia.

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Cuff is sentient, talks a lot, and allows Frey to wield powerful magic. There are many accessibility and customization options, and limiting the banter between Cuff and Frey is something you can adjust. I left it at the default setting, not minding Cuff's input during the journey, but this will definitely be a personal preference for each player. Overall I enjoyed Cuff's input, and his sass complements Frey's character nicely, especially when she comes off a bit crazed to other NPCs because she's the only person who can hear him. Then again, the NPCs themselves are a bit 2-dimensional in terms of character development, so who cares what they think.

Though their relationship is rocky to start (she literally can't remove him from her arm), they do develop a genuine friendship over time, making Cuff all the more endearing.

Forspoken Review: Frey and Cuff

However, one downside to the way the Forspoken story plays out is that you'll frequently notice an arrest of momentum. The first couple hours of the game are overly hand-holdy, tutorializing everything, and there are moments where Frey is locked in place and unable to move for several seconds until a character is finished speaking, adding to the frustration of wanting to just get moving again.

But once you get past the overly cautious tutorial and side conversations that can take way too long, the story is relatively straightforward: Frey must investigate and find a way to stop The Break, a malignant miasma that has been making its way across Athia, and to do so must confront the four Tantas: former rulers of Athia who have become corrupted.

Forspoken's story has satisfying emotional peaks while consistently calling back to previous events. On my second playthrough, I was able to better appreciate one of the early encounters, adding to the replayability of Forspoken. Though there are some definite pacing issues at times that slow the fast-paced experience to a crawl, Forspoken generally does a good job of keeping the narrative moving.

Forspoken Review: Frey Battling a Dragon

Frey's Powers Are Incredibly Satisfying to Use

As Frey enthusiastically puts it early on, she can "move shit with her mind." Her stock set of powers is nothing more than launching rocks at enemies, but as she defeats bosses and levels up she'll not only be able to make her attacks more powerful, but she'll unlock new types of magic abilities altogether.

Many abilities are unlockable with mana, a resource Frey can pick up as she travels. There's plenty of it to come across: I was never at a loss or felt like I had to do any significant grinding to unlock a specific ability. Other magic spells and attacks are only available when Frey completes a specific side quest, making it a worthy detour to investigate fountains and enemy trials. If you want to upgrade your spells, be ready to hit the library: picking up books scattered across the world can reveal information to make your attacks even more powerful.

With a little practice, it's easy to switch between support and attack spells, or switch what magical abilities you're using. Strategically hitting enemies with different spells is important to identify vulnerabilities and find the best way to take them down. Boss battles will require a careful approach, but don't think that fights in the overworld will be a walk in the park (even when it is a literal walk in the park). Hordes of zombie-like enemies can appear at any time, and attempting to take them all on at once can be futile if you're not well prepared.

Like the parkour mechanics, the combat is mostly well-designed and executed. I did encounter numerous times when my lock-on reticule would stop tracking the enemy I was trying to attack, or switch to a different enemy when I didn't mean to, but these issues are already being addressed in the demo. I wouldn't be surprised if an early patch helped to optimize this and make it even better for new players.

Forspoken Review: Frey with Cat Photo

Forspoken Review | Final Thoughts

Forspoken is a great game to kick off 2023 with; a fast-paced and satisfying adventure that delivers on the promise of a fluid parkour experience. Though the traversal has a definite learning curve and the lock-on system needs to be further refined, Forspoken expertly blends traditional RPG elements and skill trees for an overall enjoyable experience.

Forspoken is an awesome original IP from Luminous Productions that I would love to see more of, and most of the critiques I have of this game are things that could be patched in the future or updated with DLC. For those looking for an Action RPG fix on their PS5 or PC this winter, Forspoken is an excellent choice.


TechRaptor reviewed Forspoken on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC.

Review Summary

Review Summary

8.0
Forspoken offers an engaging story and fluid traversal mechanics that make the act of exploring the world and upgrading Frey's magical abilities an absolute delight.

Pros

  • Fun gameplay
  • Engaging story
  • Speedy traversal

Cons

  • Story pacing
  • Poorly designed NPCs
  • Camera lock-on issues
Me holding a Nintendo Switch next to a Reggie Fils-Aime poster
Author: | Staff Writer
Dan is a Boston-based writer who has been with TechRaptor since the end of 2020. He has been working in the online writing, editing and SEO space for nearly a decade, always looking out for where the… Read More
More Info About This Game

In This Article

Developer
Luminous
Publisher
Square Enix
Platforms
PC, PlayStation 5
Release Date
January 24,2023
Genre
Action RPG
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