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Preview: Forspoken shows plenty of potential (and annoyance)

Dive into the land of Athia in the short standalone demo, available now on the PlayStation Store for the PS5.

After a number of delays, Forspoken is finally almost in our hands. Launching on Jan. 24, 2023, the fantasy action-RPG from Luminous Productions made waves with its urban fantasy blend and parkour-inspired combat system.

To give us a taste of the final game before it releases next month, publisher Square Enix announced a short standalone PlayStation 5 demo at the 2022 Game Awards. The demo features a small area of the full map with a smattering of objectives to complete. It’s designed to give the player a chance to feel the game in action while also showing off the environments and writing.

Just from the quick 50 minutes I’ve had with the demo, I can already see a lot of the promise in Forspoken. I’ve also run across my first grievances with the game, both major and minor. And though I hope Luminous Entertainment can iron out the gameplay kinks, I can already tell that Forspoken isn’t going to be for everyone.

Big talk for a little demo

Forspoken Demo Cutscene
Forspoken had some beautiful moments between the banter.

The Forspoken demo doesn’t feature any real story information, as the demo is mostly standalone. We get a brief introductory cutscene that sets up the world and scenario, and from there, we’re thrown right into the game.

While the plot is still mostly under wraps, the demo does give us a preview of the tone and writing that you can expect. And this, unfortunately, is going to drive a wedge between a lot of players. If the criticism for that one trailer is anything to go by, it’s not exactly surprising. Even knowing ahead of time that this could be an issue, I went into the game with an open mind.

The only dialogue you get is banter between main character Frey Holland, transported from her home of New York City to the fantasy realm of Athia, and her sentient bracelet Cuff. They’ve got a witty, sarcastic repartee and spend most of their time extending japes and insults back and forth. It’s a tone that becomes immediately apparent, and while some lines got a laugh out of me, I quickly found myself bored and annoyed with it. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Getting into the flow of combat

Forspoken Combat
It takes a while to get used to the combat, but Forspoken encourages you to learn.

Where I was most interested to try the Forspoken demo was in getting the hang of the gameplay. The game’s combat revolves around two major aspects, the first of which is standard spell-casting and magic attacks, which play about as you’d expect.

The second and more unique element is the game’s parkour system. Frey has access to a number of moves that lets her move around with incredible speed and agility. You can dash around the world and speed up and around obstacles. Taking advantage of the terrain and your maneuverability, Frey is able to effortlessly dodge and run circles around her foes.

Effortlessly, of course, once you get a handle on the combat system — and that can take some time. With its weightiness, it takes a while to really get used to how Frey’s attacks join together. But credit where it’s due: the game does incentivize you to learn how it works thanks to the ever-sliding grading system, which continuously rates your performances based on how well you do in combat. Rewarding you with higher experience and drop rates helps make the gameplay seem worth it in the end.

The Forspoken demo reveals some cracks, and some greatness

Forspoken Parkour
Running around in Athia in the Forspoken demo can be a fun time.

In the end, I can see how many would love Forspoken just based on the demo thanks to its engaging combat and pretty environments. On the other hand, its combat flow and dialogue will likely turn others away. This is one of the reasons why demos like this are important: you can see both the potential and frustrations on display. If you’re still on the fence, I’d say check out the demo and see if it tickles your fancy.

You can download the free demo for the PlayStation 5 now via the PlayStation Store. Depending on how much you like exploring, the demo should last around 40 minutes to an hour — possibly double that if you want to see everything there is to see.

Have you played the Forspoken demo yet? If so, what are your thoughts? Let us know!

Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein is either A) a lifelong video game fanatic, writer, and storyteller just sharing his thoughts on things, or B) some kind of werewolf creature. We're not quite sure which yet. He also makes mediocre video game retrospectives (and other content!) on YouTube where you can watch him babble on for hours about nothing.
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