Forspoken: we tried a new demo between magic and open world

Imagine starting the day as usual, a quick breakfast, the head turned to problems, work, social relationships to manage, the time that is never enough, in short, a real struggle for survival. While you are completely overwhelmed by the events every day the unthinkable happens and suddenly you find yourself in a strange, hostile and fascinating environment at the same time.

The technological comforts that accompanied your daily life have disappeared and, despite having lost your smartphone, you notice a talking bracelet on your wrist. These are more or less the narrative premises that catapult Frey Hollandthe protagonist of Forspokenwithin the world of Athia, a vast territory scourged by a terrible cataclysm that the indigenous people call “The Break” and which inexorably corrupts any living thing they encounter on their path.

We had the chance to experience Luminous Productions’ action-RPG first hand, born from the minds of Raio Mitsuno And Takefumi Terada (to find out more read our interview with the producers of Forspoken) under the protective wing of Square Enix. We are finally ready to tell you our first impressions of Forspoken, so make yourself comfortable and enjoy your reading.

Athia: a world to explore with the magic of parkour

The first few minutes in the role of Frey were characterized by a feeling of strong disorientation: the demo made available to us, after a short tutorial session, in fact threw us without too many frills into a rather advanced phase of the game, devoid of particular elements narrative, free from any connection with the main campaign and without the help of cutscenes useful to provide us with a context.

Cuff immediately intervened to guide us, a talking bracelet that right from the start has made itself noticed by dispensing advice, information on enemies and curiosities about Athia’s culture. It is precisely the vast territory at the base of the adventure, however, that immediately captured our attention: the portion of the map accessible during the test put us in front of barren, steep terrain, characterized by arid canyons that give way to lush valleys protected by walls on which giant suspended boulders soar, with buildings, ruins and bridges serving as landmarks. At a scenic level, the glance is important and the considerable depth of field, combined with the arrangement of the natural elements, introduces one of the most important features of the entire playing system: the magical parkour. To explore the desolate lands of Athia, Frey and his inseparable companion of adventures can do without various mounts, admirably replaced by a particular parkour technique enhanced with prodigious powers: pad in hand the feeling of freedom and speed offered by this singular “means of transport” is remarkable and has pushed us to run far and wide and experiment with increasingly spectacular routes, alternating maneuvers and reckless stunts.

Mastering the art of magical parkour, however, is not immediate: the technique does not allow you to climb hills and slopes at every point but relegates climbing to certain areas that are easily identifiable thanks to the presence of crystalline growths. The normal pressure of the command used allows to automatically lock the nearest window, while a prolonged input slows down the time and allows you to select one of your choice.

The presence of the stamina that regulates the use of parkour should not be forgotten: once the bar that indicates the available energy is finished, Frey’s speed decreases drastically and it takes a few moments before being able to resume the rhythm. Net of a few small burrs still to be fixed, parkour seemed to us an effective and fun method of moving.

A magical arsenal to be used at full speed

Athia not only reserves spectacular views: the corrupting scourge that threatens its landscapes transforms the living creatures that inhabit them into monstrosities driven by uncontrollable aggression. To defend against their attacks Frey can count on a vast arsenal consisting solely of spells.

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Precisely in these situations, the good Cuff offers something more than a simple advice: it is precisely the precious talking bracelet that provides the young woman with the power she desperately needs. The entire combat system is therefore based on these prodigious abilities divided into two orders of spells, to be used from time to time in the most appropriate way: the transition from one spell to another is facilitated by the slowing of time, which allows you to choose the one to use at all times, even by changing your strategy during the race. Depending on the type and characteristics of the opponents, sometimes it will be necessary to adopt a direct approach based on melee attacks instead of ranged spells or, again, to opt for a particular elemental magic able to put specific opponents in difficulty.

There are also powerful attacks capable of hitting multiple opponents at the same time. In any case, it will always be possible to check the degree of effectiveness of a hit thanks to the damage counter, which appears promptly next to the unfortunates every time they suffer an attack.

In these sections the magical parkour plays a central role within the combat systemallowing Frey to unleash swift attacks, dodge aggression, outflank opponents, and alternate melee and ranged hits, reaching even the most nasty flying enemies.

The use of parkour combined with certain spells then modifies their effects and effectiveness, offering multiple variations in attack and defense. In short, the protagonist’s movements seem to be a factor capable of making a difference in the clashes. Selecting the right spells, alternating the shots, balancing the strategy and above all using the rapid movements, can give life to battles with a high rate of spectacle, also thanks to the graphic choices made by the developers and the particular vocation for the particle effects of the Luminous Engine . Particularly incisive, even at the level of gameplay, the wide use of the adaptive triggers of DualSense seemed to us: the basic and heavy attacks are in fact launched by dosing the pressure of the right trigger, which poses an appropriate resistance based on the context. A light input lets you deliver quick blows while a long press unleashes a heavy attack. This particular choice reflects directly on the way to play and, at least for owners of the Sony console, it will require a minimum of practice to be fully digested.

The action soul of Forspoken emerges powerfully during the fights and pushed us to experiment with different approaches, chaining together attacks of all kinds to get effective combos with a spectacular ending. Judging from the sections we tested, essentially the one at the base of the game seems to be a sufficiently technical and complex combat system (at the end of each fight the goodness of the action is marked by a vote).

Tradition also wants its part

During the nearly two hours of testing we had the opportunity to test more “traditional” characteristics that can be easily traced back to modern open worlds. The first mission we completed in fact led us to a house that essentially acts as a hub for the main role components, between character development and the crafting system. We then took the opportunity to rest Frey on the comfortable bed made available so as to restore health and energy.

During their journey Frey and Cuff will be able to acquire ever more powerful skills and magic: both by collecting in the game world and by defeating enemies, it will be possible to accumulate mana points to be used in a special screen to unlock and enhance spells. Likewise, the many materials found in the chests can be used to improve the equipment of the protagonist.

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All objects, enemies, places and characters encountered will be automatically inserted into a diary, which consequently will allow us to deepen our knowledge of the world with interesting additional details.

Once the inevitable towers positioned in specific points have been unlocked, the map will begin to show icons that will provide precise indications on the points of interest that, in addition to the main missions, will lead us to the secondary activities. During our test, for example, we had time to free a huge fortress from a real invasion of monsters. Once we reached the goal we were rewarded with mana points and special equipment.

Luminous Matters

From a scenic point of view, the glance offered by Forspoken is of a good level and relies on the breadth of the visual field and the important amount of effects, two strengths of the Luminous Engine. The engine that gave birth to Final Fantasy XV seems to have found its dimension thanks to the efforts of the developers, who have worked hard for file the edges and optimize their efficiency.

This is how the expanses of Athia that we were able to visit take shape: vast territories characterized by the presence of grasslands rich in vegetation interrupted only sporadically by small settlements or abandoned-looking buildings. Without touching particularly high peaks, even the characterization of the enemies and the fauna seemed to us to be of good quality. The level of animations, on the other hand, is excellent, with particular reference to the protagonist Frey and her own acrobatic movements. Returning to the special effects, in a sort of bonus mission we were able to face a powerful mini-boss with the appearance of a fiery lizard. The spectacularity of the enemy attacks and the on-screen rendering of the spells cast by Frey have given rise to a combat with a high pyrotechnic rate, which beyond the high level of the challenge, has put on a show worthy of note. All this with a resolution in 4K (probably dynamic), a framerate almost always anchored to 30 fps and without the presence, at least during our game session, of uploads.

Finally, a small reflection on the actual dimensions of Athia: the demo made available to us he did not provide us with useful elements to hypothesize the duration of the main campaign but the portion of the world that we have been able to explore lets us speculate that the map has generous dimensions. Our feelings were then confirmed by the interview with the developers of Forspoken. In fact, we have only visited a part of one of the four realms available.

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Forspoken: we tried a new demo between magic and open world

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