The embargo on Forspoken reviews has lifted, meaning we're now seeing the freakin' dragons up close and also seeing ominous signs that we're about to be talking way too damn much to a cuff. Square Enix's newest RPG is out January 24, and the reviews from gaming sites have been pouring in.
Unfortunately, PC Gamer's own review—by me!—will have to wait a little longer to join the ranks. No PC codes were offered for review, so everything you see here will be for the PlayStation 5 version of Forspoken. I'm praying for my rig that Forspoken's system requirements aren't as rough as they appear.
The overwhelming consensus seems to be that Forspoken is bullseye average. Fun combat and movement are mired by what some are calling an awful story. Ouch. It's currently sitting at around 68 on Metacritic, and here's what some of our rivals have to say about it.
"While the story and general combat are hit-and-miss, movement is excellent throughout"
Game Informer: 7.5/10
So far Game Informer's Kyle Hilliard has one of the more favourable reviews from larger sites. He wrote: "Forspoken's story and combat fail to reach the heights of its movement and exploration, but thankfully those two latter elements make up most of the experience," adding that "the narrative won't linger with me, and I avoided combat in the open world often, but I loved making Frey leap and fly through Athia to discover all its treasure chests and secrets."
"Forspoken’s world and story are about as bland as they come"
Tom Marks called Forspoken a "remarkably generic RPG," finding the open world too big and the gameplay just about holding the experience together. "Forspoken is the sort of game you’ve probably seen before—from its stereotypical fish-out-of-water fantasy story to its giant open-world map full of repetitive optional tasks," he wrote. "Its combat is flashy and fun enough to entertain across its comparatively short RPG campaign, with fights that do a good job of pushing you to shake up your use of elemental powers even when the overall variety of enemies isn’t particularly impressive."
"That you can’t use parkour in the main city, which would be the perfect place for it, is frustrating"
Echoing GI and IGN, TheGamer's Ryan Thomas Bamsey felt that Forspoken was "a clunky game with awkward dialogue and characterisation." However, he called out the movement as the true gem of the game. "Forspoken best excels at movement. It feels fluid, natural, and gives you plenty of tools to overcome obstacles in various ways."
"A lot of these elements feel like they’re here for the sake of themselves, not because they’re good"
Another site to praise the gameplay but fault the story. James Billcliffe said he felt Forspoken was "trying to run full pelt alongside heavy-hitting franchises from other big publishers. But it ploughs, shin-first, through every hurdle along the way. Its stuttering start belies a combat system that's worth investing the effort to learn, but takes so long to get up to full speed that it's already on borrowed time." He also maligned the Dualsense control scheme. Not great if you're planning on playing the game on controller.
"Forspoken ultimately doesn't understand what makes [the isekai] genre so popular"
Complaints around the game's story pop up again, but Gamespot's Jordan Ramée singled out protagonist Frey in particular as "one of the weakest parts of Forspoken." He called her "inherently unlikable" for most of the game's story, saying that she deviates from isekai tropes that Forspoken is built around in the worst way. "Forspoken doesn't do anything to celebrate Frey as someone who is Black or a woman or anything else about her. The game posits that the only perspective worth noting from Frey is that of an orphan and that restriction not only stunts the character growth she can achieve, it also just gets stale after a few hours."
"Both mechanically and narratively, I cannot think of a single meaningful choice I had to make"
Rollin Bishop over at our sister site GamesRadar+ shared similar feelings. He called Forspoken "an exceptionally middling experience," once again praising the movement and spells while criticising the narrative. "The much-delayed Forspoken unfortunately might have still needed a bit more time in development, as the delivered experience makes for a rough adventure," he wrote. "There are some impressive mechanics buried somewhere deep within Forspoken, but they're too often swallowed up by classic open-world chaff, a lackluster narrative, and at-times dreadful animation."
"I didn’t expect to enjoy Forspoken as much as I did"
The Washington Post (Launcher): Unscored
Gene Park found himself having a change of heart about Forspoken as he reached the end of the game. While his criticisms lay largely in line with the majority, he found the end of the game to change his view on the narrative. "I consider myself a pretty cynical viewer when it comes to being surprised by video game stories, yet Forspoken still caught me off guard," he wrote. "Yes, I struggled to finish the game's formulaic open world activities, but once the story got going, I was riveted."
"Frey’s identity is thinly written and awkwardly deployed"
Polygon's Grayson Morley felt that "Forspoken's opening hours are by far its worst." Of his 16-hour playthrough, "the first seven hours … were hamstrung by a lengthy tutorial, one-note combat, and an insistence on interrupting the "magic parkour" with lore entries, horrible dialogue, sheep-petting minigames, cat-following minigames, and spoken exposition detailing the intricacies of meat production in Cipal, Forspoken's empty, ugly hub city."
"I only felt invested once this campaign was nearly over"
Henry Stockdale felt like there was something special in Forspoken, despite the problems already hashed out by numerous other sites. Unlike Gamespot, he felt that Frey was "a great character, even if she's not always the most likeable person." He called her criminal origins "a highly questionable choice that feels lazy," but said, "it doesn't stop her from becoming one of the most genuine protagonists I've seen recently."