Forspoken Review: When Two Worlds Collide

The first impression is strong. Despite the medium’s interactivity and mechanical density – which often require time to properly delve into – any pre-release public presentation has an opportunity to gather opinions before players get a chance to try a game. And The prophesied has faced a constant uphill battle since its announcement.

With uninspired trailers with hackneyed dialogue and a divisive demo that divided potential fans, there was already a capital “S”. Feeling babbling through social media and elsewhere about the game. Over two years after its initial reveal as Project AthensLuminous productions The prophesied turns out to be quite good – an action role-playing game with strong foundations leavened by pretty much everything else.

The prophesied Stars Alfre Holland, also known as Frey. As a 20-year-old native of New York who’d shuffled from house to house since birth, she struggled to form meaningful relationships. Due to the emotional trauma she has endured, she distances herself the moment she can legally live on her own – a decision that pushes her into a life of crime in order to stay alive.

This is the real environment in which The prophesied sets you in front of a series of events that transport Frey to the fantastic land of Athia, full of vast fields, dragons and magic. However, they will soon find out that Athia is dying due to the Rift, a looming threat that has engulfed the rest of the world and left the city of Cipal as the last bastion of civilization in all of Athia.

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as isekai, The prophesied creates an interesting mirror between the dirty, criminal streets of New York City and the naturalistic scenery lost through the breach. In a world where everyone fears for their safety and Frey is the only savior, there are clear thematic connections that go beyond the typical “other world” scenario. You can see that Luminous Productions is trying to pull into something deeper.

In such endeavors, it’s unfortunate that the narrative doesn’t turn that conceit into something meaningful. Without spoiling too much, the pace is arbitrary. The first half steadily builds into one of four major battles in the game, only for the entire second half to feel hastily put together.

The dichotomy between this build and the speed at which The prophesied Clips along that almost immediately plunge you into the next boss with next to nothing in between is jarring. The final act bombards you with tons of lore and plot reveals one after the other, pushing the game to an unnatural, awkward ending.

The pacing sucks the air out of every encounter and every plot reveal. More importantly, it leaves little room for character development. While Frey meets many people on her journey, the second half of the story leaves little room for secondary characters to shine.

The only saving grace is that the high-budget theatrical sequences have strong performances. And while some are overly theatrical, these performances keep them captivating.

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The prophesiedThe optional quests come in two flavors: detours and events. Events are short scenes of dialogue that grant experience points just for listening to someone. While these can provide additional insight into the cast, they are also too brief to be meaningful. Don’t expect most events to last longer than 30-45 seconds.

Detours are closer to what you would expect from side quests. These range from tracking cats to specific locations (there are tons of these “Follow the Cat” quests) to collecting a specific item or taking a picture. A detour even involves dancing, represented by a five-button quick-time event sequence.

unfortunately, The prophesied mainly contains paint by number page content. This lack of inspiration even extends to exploration. After making your way into the game’s different regions, you’ll find that the map is littered with tons of icons, giving the illusion of content density. Closer look, The prophesied is much slimmer than it first appears. Map symbols include monuments, fortresses, sanctuaries, locked mazes, bell towers and treasure chests.

Chests are sometimes guarded by powerful mutants, which are given their own card icon. Havens are safe havens where you can craft and upgrade gear and magic. Belfry towers are the equivalent of Ubisoft towers in that a scan on a belfry will illuminate all nearby points of interest.

Monuments aren’t much more exciting, simply structures that grant permanent stat bonuses after interacting with them. While some are really difficult to achieve, most are as easy as can be.

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For all its cookie cutter content, The prophesied will likely still sink its hooks into you through its core mechanics. After acquiring movement skills like zip and shimmy, traversal comes into its own. The movement is finicky in tight spaces that require more fine-tuned control. Fortunately, these cases are rare enough to offer little resistance.

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Traversing wide open spaces – which make up most of the map – is genuinely satisfying. Perfectly timed shimmies to regain stamina, running up walls and zipping to reach an otherwise inaccessible area feels liberating. Deciphering the optimal routing is a central part of the The prophesied Experience. Its mechanics even allow for some jerky climbs up cliffs and structures that would feel like borderline exploits in any other game.

Of course, traversal is just the vehicle that takes you from one combat encounter to the next. Finally, the vast majority of points of interest are there to improve your character’s progression in some way, be it new equipment, crafting materials, or permanent status upgrades.

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That makes The prophesied‘s structure a double-edged sword. Sure, all strongholds boil down to defeating a wave of enemies in an enclosed space. It’s not a particularly exciting game design that repeats itself multiple times. Neither do the locked labyrinths, which are linear dungeons that take you through multiple locked battle arenas, with a new cloak at the end for your efforts.

And yet there’s a compulsion at play thanks to solid combat backed by an addictive magical upgrade system. While Frey only starts out with a basic set of defensive and offensive spells related to one element, by the end of the game he will have access to four flavors of magic. Each magic type contains its own skill tree with multiple unlockable offensive and defensive abilities.

A magic set might include abilities like a homing arrow that can deal stacking damage proportional to the number of times the spell was cast before it charged. A defensive spell for this set could contain a hazy fog that confuses enemies and sets them against each other. Another spell set features fiery fists that feel so empowering as if playing the Monk class in one final fantasy game, using defensive spells like a homing attack or summoning soldiers.

Each spell set feels drastically different, changing how you approach each enemy type. Since many mobs are weak to certain types of magic, others may not have weaknesses or resistances, forcing you to constantly switch spell sets.

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It helps that each spell, whether ranged or melee, provides satisfying feedback. Enemies respond appropriately when vulnerabilities are exploited, with extravagant player animations that further sell the impact of each attack. The variations in controller vibration and trigger resistance on PS5 depend on the spell and enhance gameplay in the most subtle but meaningful ways. Unlike so many other implementations, it feels borderline as an integral part of the game’s feedback loop.

The prophesied also features an addictive twist on the traditional character skill upgrade system. You can track up to three challenges at a time, each with an ability. Completing these challenges will give this ability a decent boost, along with a permanent stat increase for the magic set it falls under.

For example, after poisoning a certain number of enemies with the Naedre spell, its duration will increase. In addition, Frey’s blue magic increases by one point. Micromanaging these challenges prevents even simpler encounters from becoming spam fests. It’s a brilliant way to push players out of their comfort zone without asking too much of them.

Forspoken Review – The Bottom Line

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  • Satisfying fights that keep you constantly moving.
  • Traversing is fun.
  • Somewhat addictive magic upgrade system.


  • The story wasted its potential.
  • The second half feels scrapped together.
  • All page content is very basic.

The prophesied is an average action role-playing game. Its themes are paralyzed by a tenuous narrative that almost feels like a speedrun midway through. Coupled with uninspired quest design and interesting checklists throughout the open world should be a train wreck.

Despite all these missteps The prophesied past the merits of its traversal, combat, and upgrade systems. It won’t win any awards at the end of the year, but it’s a decent podcast game, the kind of title you can play while consuming other content in the background without feeling like you’re missing out on too much.

[Note: Square Enix provided the copy of Forspoken used for this review. Featured image via Square Enix.]

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