Forspoken DLC In Tanta We Trust Review
While I wouldn’t say I was exactly a champion of Luminous Productions’ Forspoken, I was far less down on it than many critics. The overstuffed story was nothing groundbreaking, but it was well acted. The magic-based combat was a refreshing alternative to the usual sword-and-board action in many Soulslikes. The world was generally kind of empty, but the game had a number of interesting mechanics and excellent traversal. Does Forspoken’s In Tanta We Trust DLC fix the base game’s flaws?
Taking place decades before the events of Forspoken, In Tanta We Trust isn’t exactly a prequel, but it does help fill in some backstory. It transposes lead character Frey Holland into the body of Tanta Olas’ guard named Thalia, where she witnesses the Reddig invasion of Athia. Her companion throughout the DLC is Tanta Cinta, one of the four powerful Tantas and Frey’s mother…though of course Cinta doesn’t know it. Cuff, Frey’s trash talking magical armband — and a significant figure from Forspoken — is still a prominent voice. This time, his attitude is a little darker and more combative.
One of Forspoken’s issues was pacing and too much story, delivered inconsistently. In contrast — and lasting only a handful of hours — In Tanta We Trust only has two main characters and a forgettable antagonist. The vast and spare open world has been replaced by a smallish map and a pretty linear narrative. The writing and banter are still filled with f-bombs and scattered profanity, but the dialogue remains well acted. The story is engaging but not given quite enough stage time.
Back to Basics
One of the cliche mechanics of action games is removing the powerful hero’s gear and weapons. In Tanta We Trust is a large-scale example of this idea. Frey starts the DLC with none of her powers. Eventually she is inscribed with a magic tattoo that gives her some new spells. While the DLC’s selection of powers is not nearly as vast as Forspoken’s, there is some room for progression in the short add-on.
However, In Tanta We Trust also does away with a lot of the customization mechanics. Frey is limited to a single armor set, and gone are cloaks, necklaces, and decorative, power-enhancing nails.
While it doesn’t entirely make up for the missing elements, In Tanta We Trust focuses on the synergy of Frey and Cinta, and their magics working together. Generally, Frey’s magic is support-class stuff. She can freeze enemies and call on Cinta to administer the killing spell, for example. Frey has some offensive spells and magical melee weapons, but most of the time the goal is to work together. Successful, timing-based Frey/Cinta combos increases a power meter. Like everything about In Tanta We Trust, combat is scaled down in nuance and complexity. It’s also slightly odd to play a character whose main combat role is support.
There are a fairly limited number of enemy types, and they often appear in waves of reinforcements. Given the limits of Frey’s power, these can seem padded out and too long for the abbreviated game.
A lot of the time, Forspoken looked impressive, and In Tanta We Trust looks equally shiny, aside from some sketchy lip syncing. Because the world is smaller, there are fewer empty areas. On the other hand, Frey’s parkour mechanics aren’t often emphasized, and even occasionally unavailable in the the DLC.
While Bear McCreary and Garry Schyman are both master composers, I thought their score for Forspoken was not one of their strongest. The music for the DLC works a bit better. In particular, the transitions in and out of battle music seem smoother and less jarring. Audio design for both the main game and DLC is excellent.
In Tanta We Trust is conceptually a bit odd. While it can be played as a stand alone game, it wouldn’t make sense to do so. On the other hand, players who have beaten Forspoken may not appreciate the pared down mechanics and small scope. There is a way to access the new content from the main game’s campaign, which probably makes the most sense, making it feel almost like a robust side mission. In any case, In Tanta We Trust is neither significantly better or worse than Forspoken, but very much of a piece with it.
***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***
- Engaging story
- Attractive environments
- Strong protagonists
- Stripped down combat
- Very short
- Weak antagonist