“Forspoken’s” fun is ruined by technical issues, frustrating game design, character writing


“Forspoken” is an open world, role-playing game set in Athia, a fantasy world overrun by dark magic. The game has many issues involving gameplay, PC optimization and character writing. (Photo courtesy of Square Enix)

Ian Young, Staff Writer

There is a pretty good lineup of games I am excited for in 2023, and “Forspoken” was one of them. I saw the gameplay trailers and became pretty interested.

When I finally delved into the game, it turned out to be one of the most frustrating and technically unstable games I have played in a long time.

“Forspoken” is an open-world, role-playing game. You play as Frey, a young New Yorker who is transported to Athia, a fantasy world being corrupted by an unknown force of magic. In search of a way home, Frey must use her newfound magical abilities to battle monster and human enemies.

From the trailers of “Forspoken,” the gameplay looked very entertaining. The magic-based combat mixed with parkour gameplay looked flashy and fun and, for the most part, it was.

The game’s combat is rooted in using different magic spells depending on what enemy you are fighting. If you are fighting a flying enemy, you would want a ranged attack. If you are fighting an enemy who is quick on their feet, you would want to use a melee spell. This switch spell mechanic combined with the fluid parkour is a fun time. Zipping around a monster while throwing magic attacks is where the game is at its best.

The gameplay fumbles when it comes to anything outside of combat. Talking to other characters and tutorials constantly popping up drag the gameplay down. 

Frey, voiced by Ella Balinska, is the main character of “Forspoken.” Frey’s writing is the worst aspect of the game because her character is mean to everyone around her and has no meaningful character development. (Photo courtesy of Square Enix)

Every time there is a line of dialogue or a cutscene, you can’t move for at least five seconds. It doesn’t sound that bad until you enter the game’s vast open world. Every time you meet someone or encounter a new mechanic, the game stops your movement and decides to not let you play the game. It feels like something a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 open-world game would do.

It sucks to spend half of a video game not playing the game. The pop-ups slow the game and force the player to skip it all to get back to having fun. What also sucks is, for the PC port of the game, the game has major technical issues.

I don’t have the greatest PC in the world, but it can usually run anything I throw at it and get a consistent 60 frames per second. With this game, I could barely crack 20 frames on low settings. The PC system requirements for “Forspoken” are nonsensical and insane. It’s not as atmospherically dense as “Cyberpunk 2077” or as graphically detailed as “Red Dead Redemption 2,” and yet those games handle 60 FPS much better than this one.

I don’t understand why PC ports of games continue to be released in such poor states. I understand developing a game is hard, but when it’s a consistent issue, there is no excuse for it. I haven’t played the game on a PlayStation 5, so I can’t comment on tech issues on that console, but the PC port of “Forspoken” is rough.

Even though the PC port is poorly optimized, I can force through it. What I can’t ignore is the writing of the main character Frey.

The open world of Athia is large and beautiful. Navigating the world can be a challenge because traveling great distances in a short time span can result in massive frame drops. (Photo by Ian Young)

Frey is an insufferable jerk to everyone around her and undergoes no character development throughout the entire game. I don’t mind a character that is mean and is hard for you to root for, but there is usually a redemption arc or something that gives that character charm. 

For example, Arthur Morgan from “Red Dead Redemption 2.” He is one of the best written characters in any video game. He starts off as an outlaw from a ruthless gang. He’s mean and tries to emotionally detach himself from everyone he hurts for the gang. As you play the game, Arthur grows as a character and becomes not only a good man, but someone who learns to care and be kind to everyone around him to make the world a better place.

Frey gets none of this development, and she is the exact same character from beginning to end. She is a selfish jerk who doesn’t care for anyone around her except herself.

I am so tired of games, movies and television series writing these types of characters. Writing a character that has no other distinct qualities besides making jokes and being a jerk is not good writing. I can excuse goofy dialogue, I can excuse a bad story, but a character who doesn’t shut up and belittles everyone around them is a character trope that needs to die out.

Any fun or enjoyment that I got out of “Forspoken” was immediately swatted away due to outdated game design choices, poor PC optimization and a main character that is annoying and unlikable. I would rate “Forspoken” four stars out of 10.