Until recently, Square Enix’s Forspoken has remained a mystery, but we now finally have some solid information about the upcoming fantasy game. Even though there is still a lot to learn, some much-needed facts about the PlayStation 5 exclusive have been released to the public before we’re asked to spend our hard-earned cash. Here are 6 of them:
1. The Genre
Forspoken’s genre can be categorized through its style of gameplay and its narrative format. From a gameplay perspective, Forspoken has been described as an action role-playing game, but outside of that, the specifics of gameplay are still a mystery. We can infer, based on the trailers, that players will be exploring a mostly unpopulated open world and fighting magical creatures along the way. On the narrative side of things, Forspoken is dipping its toes into a traditional Japanese genre called Isekai.
Stories that fall into the Isekai genre revolve around a protagonist who is suddenly transported into a new, mysterious world. In Forspoken’s case, the protagonist is dragged through a purple portal only to emerge in an unknown world, dazed and confused. Despite the hardships of adjusting to a new world, the protagonist will develop a specific trait that either helps them thrive or makes them the ultimate savior. At least, that’s the formula most Isekai’s live by.
2. The Protagonist
Frey Holland, played by Ella Balinska, is a 21-year-old woman who grew up on the streets of New York City – a locale that, apparently, serves as a source of hardship for the young woman. In the trailer, we saw her surrounded by a group of women in a dark alleyway. One of these bullies punched Frey in the stomach, causing her to bend over in pain. It’s not too farfetched to suggest that Frey’s experiences have helped her become a more determined individual, which will be a valuable quality moving forward. Back to the trailer, the scene quickly transitions to Frey talking to her cat about leaving the city and going somewhere there will be “no more fights, clean air, and bright skies.”
Her wish comes true, but not exactly as she had hoped. After her spiraling purple ride to a new world, Frey learns about this exciting new venture along with the player. Whenever she makes a discovery or acquires new powers, she’ll often express excitement and curiosity. Several times, especially with the overuse of the word “freaking,” the dialogue shown thus far seemed campy and cheesy. Overall, though, we believe it will be fun to experience a new, magical world alongside Frey.
3. The Setting
The magical setting we’ve been talking so much about is not of this earth. Athia is “a land where fantasies and nightmares are suddenly very real,” according to Forspoken’s Creative Producer Raio Mitsuno. The vast land is under the rule of evil matriarchs called Tantos who stand in Frey’s way of going home. In an eerily lit chamber, we saw one of these Tantas seated on a large throne. Wearing a long, red dress and a metal casing on her head, she does not hesitate to brutally attack our protagonist.
As for the locale, what we’ve seen so far looks to be barren yet beautiful. There are large, golden-topped castles with ferns growing down the side, but most of the environments are wide open swaths of nature. One spanning shot unveiled grasslands with large rib cage-like structures protruding from the ground. The terrain is mountainous, with wide expanses of rocky, brown topography and forests with tall, green trees. Sometimes we also see Frey jumping across ancient, seemingly abandoned towns. Although they are stunning sights to see, one cannot help but wonder (and worry) if the environments are actually as empty as they look.
4. The Combat
When watching Forspoken in action, we can’t help but acknowledge the sheer amount of magical abilities and traversal techniques that Frey utilizes. While the trailers speed through several different combat scenarios, it’s hard to find a similar type of ability repeated. It looks to be a fast-paced, third-person power trip that functions almost like Remedy’s Control. If done right, these types of games can create a free-flowing, chaotic, and almost cinematic approach to every combat encounter. Forspoken looks to do just that as Frey uses several magical attacks such as an ice and plant-based projectile.
Some of the attacks we’ve seen so far include a ball of water that can trap, and probably drown enemies, a bomb that can be implanted into the ground like a mine, a series of pellets that can be shot out of Frey’s hand like a machine gun, and a giant red saber for melee combat. All of these attacks emanate from Frey’s hands much like the various superpowers of the Infamous series. Several of these attacks can be combined with some stylish traversal mechanics to allow for advanced maneuverability and dodging.
5. The Characters
During her journey, Frey will interact with a variety of characters – but the most intriguing thus far shown are the cuffs on her arm, appropriately named Cuffs. This character, played by Jonathan Cake, knows all about Athia and will most likely serve as Frey’s guide in the foreign land. A PlayStation Blog article also listed some of the other characters that will greatly impact Frey. Tanta Sila, played by Janina Gavankar, is shaping up to be the main antagonist and has been described as the most powerful of the Tantas. Furthermore, Kaela Settle plays an activist named Johedy, while Monica Barbara plays an encouraging young woman named Auden, both of whom have a positive impact on Frey.
6. The Composers and Writers
It’s the composers and writers behind the scenes who often make a significant impact on the final product. In Forspoken’s case, a number of impressive names set a high bar for its soundtrack and dialogue going forward. Bear McCreary, known for his work on God of War (2018), and Gary Schyman, known for his work on Bioshock, are composing the beautiful songs of Forspoken, which we can already get a taste of in the trailers.
Lastly, the writers consist of big names including Gary Whitta, most famously known for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, Amy Hennig, who worked on the first three Uncharted games, Allison Rymer, who worked on ‘LOST’, and Todd Stashwick, who played the main character in ’12 Monkeys’. With incredible talent backing the title and some impressive-looking trailers, we are looking forward to playing Forspoken in Spring 2022.