Square Enix's big internal studios are known for the Final Fantasy games, but after Final Fantasy 15, Square has moved in a different direction. A lot of the developers that worked on it went and founded a new Square Enix studio, Luminous Productions, to focus on new high profile games. This new team took the Luminous Engine that Square Enix created for Final Fantasy 15 and got their heads together to work on a new game: Forspoken.
Forspoken was originally known as Project Athia, but now we have the proper title for it, and a release date. With time we've also gotten looks at everything from the new protagonist, to the way she slings spells at her enemies and zips across the landscape.
Here's everything we've learned about Forspoken so far.
What is Forspoken's release date?
Forspoken will release on January 24, 2023, according to a recent delay announcement. This is the game's second delay, following an announcement earlier this year that its original release window in May 2022 was pushed back into October.
According to the latest delay statement, Forspoken's release date was pushed back once more for "strategic reasons." It's unclear what exactly that means, but the released Twitter statement (opens in new tab) described the game's development as nearly finished, saying "all game elements are now complete, and development is in its final polishing phase." If that's the case, this latest release date will probably stick.
Here's the Forspoken debut trailer
...and here's the Forspoken story introduction trailer
Who's the main character in Forspoken?
The hero of Forspoken is Frey Holland, played by actor Ella Balinska. In the reveal trailer, Balinska says she's "a young woman in a beautiful yet threatening world." Balinska also said that Frey is a character she "immediately connected with," and she's performing both the motion capture and voice work in Forspoken.
That threatening world is doubly so, since Frey is actually a "gritty yet street smart young woman" who is unexpectedly transported from New York City to the nightmarish fantasy world of Athia. Thankfully her passage into this world is accompanied by the discovery of magical abilities, which she'll need as she fights her way to the "twisted all-powerful matriarchs" known as the Tantas, who control Athia. Sounds like she needs to get rid of them.
The first thing we saw in the debut Forspoken trailer was Frey's sneakers, which seemed ill-fitting in a fantasy game. Well: now you know why she's wearing sneakers! This has the whiff of an "isekai" story, a popular genre in Japan where characters are transported to a fantasy world. Y'know, like Space Jam.
This bit of text from the official site summarizes that setting:
IN A WORLD NOT HER OWN
WHERE RESOLVE WILL BE TESTED
TRUTHS WILL BE QUESTIONED
AND DEVOTIONS WILL BE DOUBTED
SHE WILL RISE.
How about the other characters?
Cuff is your main companion in Forespoken, and as his name implies, he's a cuff. Literally. He's a "magical, sentient bracelet of uncertain origin" who speaks in an arch English accent, as witty videogame companions are wont to do. He's played by Jonathan Cake.
We've also learned of Tanta Sila, who is played by Janina Gavankar. She's the big baddy among the Tantas, the group of "twisted" matriarchs you'll be targeting in Forespoken.
Two other key characters have also been revealed: Johedy is played by Keala Settle, and is a "hard-nosed archivist who provides Frey with guidance," while Auden (Monica Barbaro) is a young woman Frey meets in Athia. They become besties.
What will Forspoken play like?
The most recent Forspoken trailer released in September provides a good overview of how the fantasy RPG will play, and then we got a virtual preview of Forspoken in December that gave us even more.
- Square Enix is going for high fidelity cutscenes and environments here, much like its Final Fantasy games
- Frey moves fast
- Frey can run up/climb cliff faces and do some twirly moves to gain bursts of speed. Think magically aided parkour. Platforming is a key part of the game's traversal, as is Spider-Man style swinging
- Enemies shown in the trailer: an imposing golem, an imposing zombie bear, and some wild-lookin' sabretooth cats
- Frey's magical powers include forming a shield of light and making vines explode out of the ground. She can also fire high speed magic projectiles at enemies.
- Spells seem to be from a variety of schools, that can be swapped between like stances.
- Spellcasting is mobile - Frey fires off her spells on the move, not rooted in place like so many others.
- The open world appears to be a mix of medieval fantasy architecture, cliffy and craggy wildlands, and open green pastures
- Frey is accompanied by a fairly unconventional companion in 'Cuff'. He's literally a golden sentient bracelet attached to Frey's arm
Based on what's been shown so far, Forspoken reminds me of open world games like Insomniac's Spider-man and Sucker Punch's Infamous, where using your movement abilities to get around the open world is as big a part of the game as combat.
Who's working on Forspoken?
It's a Luminous Productions game, but the studio has recruited some high-profile talent to write the script. These writers include Star Wars writer (and ye olde PC Gamer editor) Gary Whitta, Naughty Dog veteran Amy Hennig, as well as Allison Rymer and Todd Stashwick. Square Enix has brought out the big guns, so expect a narrative-driven adventure.
It's also confirmed that God of War (2018) composer Bear McCreary will be handling Forspoken's score.