Originally developed under the codename Project Athia and the first release from Square Enix’s Luminous Productions, Forspoken has a lot of the DNA of Square’s prior JRPG work albeit with Western twists. Based on a concept developed by video game writing vets Gary Whitta and Amy Hennig, and written by Allison Rymer and Todd Stashwick, Forspoken feels like an offshoot of Final Fantasy in many ways, which makes sense given the Luminous team boasts a lot of former Final Fantasy 15 devs. But in trying to deliver something new yet familiar, Forspoken devolves into a generic open world game whose combat system is its only genuine standout.
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A lot has been said about the writing in Forspoken and the characterization of its heroine, Frey Holland. She has a bit of a foul mouth and when players first meet her, Frey is on trial for larceny. But as the initial prologue continues, it becomes clear that Frey is a victim of her circumstances, having been abandoned as a baby by the Holland Tunnel and left to fend for herself.
After finding a mysterious vambrace, Frey is magically transported from modern-day New York to the world of Athia. Once a prosperous land that has all the trappings of a Final Fantasy-esque medieval setting, Athia has decayed after a mysterious airborne containment called “The Break” took over and transformed any living things it touched into horrible monsters. The Break’s source is believed to be the four Tantas of Athia, once-noble rulers that have been corrupted. Discovering that the vambrace (called Cuff), in addition to giving Frey all the exposition, quips, and comedic relief she could possibly need, also gives her the ability to wield element-based magic, Frey seeks to help the people of Athia by defeating the Tantas and eliminating The Break.
Forspoken’s story hits a lot of familiar notes in its telling of the reluctant hero’s journey. The world and the lore of Athia are intriguing, but the…