“Forspoken” by Square Enix combines magical parkour with an irreconcilable world

Image source: Square Enix, Luminous Productions

The new studio also takes different approaches to the story. Instead of in-house writers, Luminous Productions hired Allison Rymer (who wrote for the TV series Shadowhunters) and Todd Stashwick as lead writers. The development team that last worked on the divisive Final Fantasy XV said they wanted to create a game with more “universal appeal” that promises to be a narrative action-adventure RPG. However, judging by that early look, Forspoken can’t stray too far from the video game trope of messianic misfit-save-mystical lands.

The focus is on both the female lead, which is set to music and cast by actress Ella Balinsk, and several female antagonists – crazy sorceresses named Tantas. The world of Athia has a matriarchal society that rightly ensures that women are the main actors. Even so, the preview didn’t really help us figure out where Forspoken Frey’s story was going to lead. The team is also promising post-launch DLC content called In Tanta We Trust, which will act as a prequel to the main title.

We know that the encroaching darkness has trapped the remnants of humanity within the walls of a single city, Cipaul. The rest of the world is now covered in that eerie fog “The Break” that distorts and absorbs life.

Some of the citizens of Cipaul consider Frey a demon – a threat – because she can survive the break outside of town, not to mention the magical, free-roaming, and elemental arsenal that comes with her magical bangle. There are also RPG-style upgrades available to unlock. Frey will be able to upgrade her cloak and nail art (!) To improve her stamina and increase spell power, which is a modern twist on magical gems and runes.

In the tradition of Destiny’s Ghost and uh, Ratchet and Clank’s Clank, the cuff has a British accent and a sassy attitude. It will joke with Frey and react to the way she fights. It’s hard to tell from the early preview, but it seems like the cuffs (called the cuff?) Even offer combat insight and advice on fighting style. A Square Enix spokesperson said the team was “still adjusting the exact frequency, content and volume” of their interactions. This is a good sign, because Frey seems to be cursing a lot and it is less and less common for him to yell “Shit!”. every time a monster attacks. See: Devil May Cry.

The preview teased stealth spells, magical landmines, and used your cloak as a kind of grappling hook. Even if you’re moving at a fast pace, forspoken will slow things down if you aim at key ledges in what seems like a grateful forgiving touch.

I’m particularly interested in how Forspoken will actually play and what fights will feel like. With combat spells, Frey can choose different effects and spells from rings and keep several as tie-points for easy (repeated) use, but it’s hard to say how intuitive that feels.

Square Enix, Luminous Productions

At the end of my 30 minute briefing, the developers reveal breakstorms, random supernatural events that spawn monsters and a larger beast, a skeletal giraffe with one eye that fires beams of energy. Frey casts multiple high level spells, stacks effects, and mixes up strategies to overcome both crowd control and the wrath of the boss monster at the center of it all. In this case, she doesn’t quite make it and falls to the monster’s attacks, but the first thing I thought was – I want to play this myself, and preferably this Cyclops giraffe. Hopefully Square Enix can make these fights feel as fluid as Frey’s magical parkour punches.

Forspoken launches on May 24, 2022 on PS5 and PC.

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