Although humans have been telling stories for millennia, there are only a handful of basic plots. The untold millions of books, movies, television shows and video games all share a few strands of story DNA. One of these is the “fish out of water” or “stranger in a strange land” plot. It drops the protagonist into an unfamiliar and usually hostile place and tasks them with survival. This is the engine that drives Luminous Productions upcoming action game, Forspoken.
Frey Holland is a tough, street-smart young Black woman from New York City. A survivor of a troubled family life, Frey is one or two bad decisions away from incarceration. When she stumbles through a magic portal, Frey finds herself in Athia, a world of magic and monsters. She’s now wearing a sentient bracelet she names Cuff, who serves as a companion and guide. Naturally, Frey’s goal is to return to her own time and place. The developers noted that some aspects of Frey only came into focus after they hired actress Ella Balinska to portray her.
Unlike New York, the land of Athia was once peaceful and idyllic, but it’s now terrorized by hideous monsters and ravenous beasts. The source of this troubling transformation is a magic blight called The Break. Athia, once ruled by benevolent matriarchs, is under the rule of the now-evil Tantas. Frey’s task is to help rid the land of The Break and the evil rulers. As a powerful stranger, Frey is both distrusted and feared.
In a recent preview, the developers talked about the game’s themes of family and tribe, and Frey’s struggle to find both. Finding herself at odds with both the real and magical worlds, Frey struggle is to find her identity and power. Forspoken joins the growing list of upcoming games with a strong female protagonist, a female-centric story, and themes of female empowerment.
Forspoken’s Open World Action
Athia is a large open world divided into four regions, with a hub city called Cipal. Although some areas of Athia are unaffected by the Corruption, much of the land is under the shadow of the Break. When Frey quests into The Break, she finds humans turned into monsters and dangerous beasts. There will be extra-challenging moments called Break Storms as well. The developers note that the open world will hide many secrets and activities to discover.
Luckily, Frey has a large arsenal of magical tools and abilities. The most important might be her ability to move fluidly around the environment. The developers refer to this as magic-enhanced parkour. Frey can jump, leap, climb and dash through the world and in combat. It looks like it will be a lot of fun.
We’ve also seen a bit of Frey’s magic in action. We’ve seen powerful ranged spells and area-of-effect magic that knocks back groups of enemies. The developers noted that Frey’s magic will take many forms, from ranged and melee magic to traps. Although a little short on specifics, we know that Frey will be able to level up and enhance her magic and abilities. The open world mechanics also include gathering resources and crafting.
A Confluence of Influences
There’s a lot we don’t know about Forspoken, like quest lines and customizing Frey’s character. We’re a little short on the details of Frey’s backstory, and we don’t know too much about the Tantas or other NPCs. Just from listening to the developers and watching the hands-off game video, it’s easy to play “spot the influences.” While of course Forspoken has a strong identity, players of other open world action games will feel at home. Its world feels a bit like Assassin’s Creed, while some of the monsters look like they’d be at home in Dark Souls. Forspoken’s fast-paced magic and action reminded me of Final Fantasy’s more frenetic fights.
Although we haven’t seen all the regions of Athia, the architecture of Cipal has a distinctively Greco-Roman look, but the developers note plenty of Egyptian and Babylonian influences, too. Out in the world, the landscapes range from lush to barren and blighted. There are a lot of opportunities for Frey to use her magic parkour skills. Vertical spaces play an important role. It’s really too early to pass any kind of judgement on Forspoken’s graphics, but what we’ve seen so far includes impressive lighting and fluid movement, interesting monsters and attractive character designs.
Save the Date
Forspoken’s story about a young woman finding her power and coming to terms with her inner demons seems promising. Its action, movement and magic-filled combat look exciting and fun to explore. Although we’re still many months away from the final product, what we’ve seen of Forspoken suggests an open world action game that’s worth waiting for. I’m excited to see how it develops and I look forward to May 24, 2022, when the game is finally released.
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