From Frey’s first steps in the medieval fantasy land of Athia, The forgotten ones the effects come out in full force.

He runs and ducks under broken walls in an abandoned castle with a giant dragon. He is having a teasing conversation A fellow named Cuff, which is literally a talking gold bracelet. Then, after narrowly escaping danger, we get a dramatic bird’s-eye view of the landscape dominated by a giant stone landmark rising into the sky.

The game literally screams: This is a JRPG! This isekai! There might be some glorious anime silliness in here! Smaller details like the stone landmark reminded me of Xenoblade Chronicles’ Gaur Plain. However, despite his early promise, most of Frey’s time in Athia is spent without much whimsy or the right amount of slack. The new game from Luminous Productions and Square Enix has a distinctly serious tone that makes it difficult to persevere through the long journey.

Frey, the protagonist of Forspoken, looks to the right of the camera in a dimly lit environment

Photo: Luminous Productions/Square Enix

Luminous Productions gives Athia a kind of pervasive sadness. This is mainly due to the “bubonic plague vibe” it carries. Actually, there is no plague, but there are dark and stormy clouds that cover entire cities and kill all living things in them. he prophesied Despite some vivid magic in combat, it also relies on a photorealistic graphics style that isn’t very colorful – even the flowers look a bit sad and colorless.

Then we sing the story of Frey, which is very sad! He is an orphan who was abandoned by his parents at birth. He lives in poverty in New York, and the day he finally saves enough money to move out and have a better life, his house is burned down by a gang. He finds new confidence in Athia, but still lives a lonely life. He is not joined on his journey by any group of companions who fill scenes filled with romantic monologues about the power of friendship.

It is unique to the world of Athia and lights up (without spoiling anything) when you open its heart a bit.

Frey’s magical parkour skills allow her to freely roam the entire world. However, beyond its mechanics, he prophesied it lacks the moments of comfort that allow players to endure the long, sad and sometimes difficult journeys of many other “serious” games. There are no silly cactuars popping up to make you laugh; no overly sassy friends standing by; there are no moments of whimsy that allow you to pause and get away from it all. Maybe the closest you’ll get is a cute little side quest where you feed the sheep, but even so, it gets a bit tedious because you can’t see Frey feeding the sheep because the text on the black screen just says you’re feeding them. .

Image of Frey kneeling to feed a sheep in Forspoken.  The world looks dull - the grass looks dry and dead, but the sheep are cute!

Image: Square Enix via Parlaq Productions/Polygon

There’s a reason comic relief is so common in blockbuster movies and video games—it gives the audience a breather before the next exciting but stressful set piece. he prophesied is so serious in its enveloping story that it becomes too much weight for the dialogue to carry – thus confusion ensues. Bad jokes and harsh self-narratives are fixtures of several popular AAA games, but he prophesied when bored, they fall even more because it’s not a world where stupid things happen or people talk in strange, unfathomable ways. The self-referential dialogue feels less like comic relief and more like self-deprecation.

I personally think Frey deserves to be entertained. He clearly enjoys the points. When he first uses his magical parkour skills, he says, “Okay, that’s awesome! I’m serious!” His life and story don’t have to be completely silly, but all sad medievals could use some boost. And he doesn’t get anything. For me, it’s exhausting enough to push me away.

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