Try Forspoken, Square Enix’s wildly ambitious adventure
Forspoken presents itself in an adventure meant to be daring. Risky bet but will the bet hold for Square Enix?
This January 24, gamers who are fans of action adventure games will be able to get their hands on the famous Abandoned, one of the biggest projects of Square Enix studios. Otherwise known as Project Athia, this is a particularly anticipated opus, for several years, as it promises to reconcile RPGs and more narrative adventure games in the best possible way.
After a fairly convincing 3-hour preview, the game was revealed in all its beauty in our test for several dozen hours. Does Square Enix manage to combine the best of both worlds and give us the epic epic we’ve been waiting for? The answer to this test of Abandoned.
There is nothing new under the sun
A moving story, great stakes, and a strong heroine: what we were promised Abandoned unnoticed. It was also during its impressive trailers that the title developed a reputation even before it was available on consoles and PC. Controller in hand, the result is very different from what we imagined.
The first hours are clearly used to introduce the story, the characters, the various gameplay elements and the red thread that connects everything. Frey Holland is a young New Yorker, a repeat offender and an orphan since birth. After another run-in with the law, he finds himself unexpectedly thrust into a magical world, with no hope of an immediate return.
Accompanied by a strange talking bracelet, he will have to familiarize himself with this new universe, where he can be the savior or the destroyer. If at first glance the proposal is attractive, we will finally see it is more classic than it seems. We love his humor, his gap between two worlds and the strangeness of his characters, but sometimes we miss the caricature of his epic story, the predictability of events and especially his rhythm.
As with any action adventure game, the story is often punctuated by cinematics and stages that are a bit more narrative. They are what allow the link between all the quests, primary and secondary. However, they are more disappointing compared to the rest of the title. Often very static, with a Japanese style old, Abandoned struggling to anchor his universe to the modernity he recognizes.
Visually, we must make the same observation. In some ways, Square Enix’s game is amazing, especially when it comes to some of the environments and the non-human characters. But the impression of photorealism is not there, and this applies to motion capture and general modeling (facial expressions, hair, movements, etc.), the vast but empty and/or repetitive sets and even the -embed NPCs in game scenes. Textures are sometimes almost non-existent or sometimes collide to give an impression of incompleteness in the game. Attempts at naturalness are roots and we do not plan the ourselves at all.
An endless loot factory
A failure that leaves us in awe of the potential of Abandoned is tall. The latter, however, lies not in its plot, but in the extreme variety and simply addictive gameplay. With its massive map, Athia offers you a huge world to explore at your leisure and very freely. Points of interest, side quests, loot dungeons, refuges and monuments accompany almost all of your adventures and we tend to think that’s a good thing.
Unlike the narrative stages, we see in this aspect all the dynamism and diversity that Square Enix promised us. Once launched into the open world, we find ourselves caught up in a billion things to do to increase our character’s stats, recover rare and useful items, kill enemies to improve our spells or even regain mana in a revenge.
This way of approaching the universe of Abandoned changes us from the very guided adventure we are used to now and we find ourselves here with an old-fashioned gameplay, fluidity and technological ease in addition. In performance mode, we greatly appreciate the rendering of actions, especially in large-scale battles, which remain completely understandable, although sometimes changing.
If there’s one thing we can regret, however, it’s the lack of interactivity. Some will appreciate that the game is more focused on its gameplay, and this is definitely a strong point, especially when it is successful as it is in several points. On the other hand, the very format of the title (which is intrinsically linked to its history and which we will not reveal here) does not allow us to have many human contacts to get us out of this endless zone sometimes.
To entertain you, the hordes of all kinds of enemies that reappear all the time, and above all some optional missions that show us that accessibility is not just a matter of difficulty. To increase some of your skills or get rewards, some very simple objectives await you. However, be careful, side quests are not all available forever, so we advise you to do them before you regret it.
Less magical combat
Another sinew of war for Square Enix, the magical confrontation system at the very heart of Abandoned. As the chosen one sent to an unknown land, you have access to some spells given by Krav, the famous magic bracelet. If you are offered some options at the beginning, it is possible to expand them as you explore and improve them thanks to the many resources you find.
Despite all the possible options, however, you can only use two skills at a time in battle, although they can be changed at any time. Frey has only two angles of action: attack or defense. Regardless of the spell used, the battles are often repetitive and don’t necessarily give strength to the stages that nevertheless deserve to be more active.
It doesn’t take away from the difficulty of the conflicts that will delight fans of the challenges… at least at first. If you’re the type to explore all the places and loot everything to improve your skills, the challenges will quickly become unattractive. Especially we have to deal with the super speed of our heroine, which is not always easy.
We’re not going to say he’s completely out of control (oops, we said it anyway) but you’re going to need a hell of a lot of help before you can trust Frey’s magical parkour. This one is handy for you to climb walls, jump to improbable heights, or move faster to dodge. Its consequences tend to be random and that’s why this addition ends up being more of a curse than a gift. What a waste Abandoned that gets lost in its overly grandiose ambitions, even when it comes to one of the studio’s most recognizable aspects.