As I said previously, red flags have been going up about Square Enix’s Forspoken left and right as of late. The demo was not terribly well-received and needed its own patch before release. The PC specs of the game were ludicrous. The dialogue in the trailers felt cringe-worthy.
But the idea was that perhaps the final product would surprise us, and at the very least, the cool spellcasting and creative world might overcome any issues. Turns out that is…not the case. Reviews are spilling in for Forspoken and they are pretty bad. And that’s even with Square Enix trying to do review score damage control.
As I write this, Forspoken currently has a 68 on OpenCritic with only 32% of critics recommending it. It has a 66 on Metacritic. In the context of other video game releases, these are bad scores, bad aggregates. These are numbers no studio wants to see in an industry where 90+ is a potential GOTY, 85+ is enough to land your team potential bonuses and 75+ is considered “pretty good.” If you’re landing in the 60s in these aggregates, that’s…a bad sign. Here, Forspoken’s 66 is only 5 points above 2022’s Saints Row reboot at a 61, widely thought to be one of the biggest misses of last year.
In this case, this is all even worse because of two key factors. Square Enix pulled the old “limited digital codes” trick and specifically avoided giving codes to many outlets. On top of that, with everyone wondering if this game is going to be badly optimized on PC due to the insane recommended specs Square Enix released, there are zero reviews of PC copies, all of this is on PS5. So it’s entirely possible these scores may have been even worse if more outlets got copies and PC codes actually went out.
As for major outlets, it’s pretty bleak:
- IGN (6/10) – “Forspoken’s flashy combat and parkour can be fun, but they aren’t enough to make its cliche story and barebones open world very interesting to explore.”
- GameSpot (5/10) – “Forspoken is visually stimulating and a musical delight, but boring combat, poor characterization, and loose movement mechanics make for a mediocre experience.”
- GamesRadar (5/10) – “Forspoken shines brightest when its protagonist is dipping, ducking, and diving along the generally striking world of Athia while casting a variety of spells, but the standard fish-out-of-water fantasy story of Frey only subtracts from the experience.”
I’m a bit surprised one of the more positive mainstream reviews is from Gene Park at The Washington Post, who gave it an 8/10:
“Forspoken doesn’t do anything new for the open-world genre of games, but it does offer just enough to distinguish itself, mostly thanks to Frey and her magic spells, and a story that’s able to stick the landing. Or to translate this to Whedonspeak, “Yep, she really did just do that!”
In general, the complaints are about the dialogue (where there’s actually a “less banter” setting in options to make it less annoying) and the blandness of the open world. Generally the spellcasting seems to be a highlight, as I figured it might be from the demo, but it’s not enough to offset the other issues.
This is bad for both Square Enix, and for PlayStation, who touted this as one of its major console exclusives this year. And we should now brace ourselves to figure out how exactly this performs on PC with those crazy recommended specs, which we will apparently not know until the game is literally for sale in the wild tomorrow. I would absolutely wait for the Digital Foundry review before buying it there.
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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.