Forspoken Review – A Little Frey’d Around the Edges

Forspoken is an action role-playing game developed by Luminous Productions and published by Square Enix, released on PlayStation 5 in January 2023. Originally debuted as a teaser trailer in 2020 as “Project Athia”, with a breathtaking look at the world, traversal, and combat.

Forspoken takes us from the dull, grey, congested streets of New York, to the beautiful fantasy world of Athia, a land full of rolling hills, vast deserts, luscious meadows, oh, and a malevolent miasma, called “The Break”, that is mutating the local wildlife into nightmare creatures and the residents into zombies.

If only there was a stereotypical down-and-out New Yorker with a massive chip on her shoulder and magical powers to help…


Ever feel like you were destined for more? Never really fitting in, just you against the world, or is the world against you? That’s our protagonist, Alfre “Frey” Holland. Found as a baby at the Holland Tunnel in New York, bouncing around foster homes and running with the wrong crowds. Frey has dreams of getting out of the city with Homer, her cat. She lives in an apartment in an abandoned building with Homer, sharing a floor mattress. Frey is grinding away to get enough money to make her dream happen.

She got caught up with a bad crowd previously and owes money to a gang boss, but she won’t pay and goes on the run. The gangsters catch up with her and, after a fire burns her apartment, her money, and essentially her dreams, Frey finds herself at the Holland Tunnell at her lowest point in life.

Cue major change! Frey’s attention is drawn to a room below where a gold, twisting arm bracelet lies on a table. As soon as she touches it she finds the bracelet is now on her arm, and it contains a sentient presence, which she names Cuff. Before coming to terms with her new companion she is transported to the land of Athia, a medieval fantasy world that seems beautiful at first. Unfortunately, before long she is informed the world is plagued by a miasma called The Break, which mutates the local wildlife into bigger, angrier, and toothier versions of themselves, and human residents are deformed into break zombies or worse. Frey has something going for her though, she now possesses magical abilities, offensive, supportive, and traversal. She’s also immune to The Break.

Cuff brings her up to speed on the state Athia finds itself in. Some time ago, the land used to be protected by 4 magic-wielding women known as Tantas. Each Tanta governed over each of the 4 districts, looking after the people and pushing prosperity. They are not immune to The Break, it has affected them too, each Tanta has gone mad and has allowed or caused their district to fall into disarray and residents are being overrun by creatures or falling victim to The Break itself.

Frey finds herself thrust into the role of saviour very quickly as no one before her was strong enough to take on The Break, the beasts, or the Tantas. Frey is reluctant to help unless it benefits her getting closer to getting home to New York. She has a bad attitude, which unfortunately remains until very late in the story.

There is a great deal of lore and story to be had here which I found extremely captivating and made me want more. The greater story is what kept me playing on, saving Athia was a lot of fun and it definitely felt like I was making a difference to the world. I lost interest in Frey’s story and journey quite early into the game but kept playing to find out how the larger story came to an end. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the finale of the story, both for Athia and Frey, I felt she redeemed herself by the end but it wasn’t enough for me to like her character.


The gameplay in Forspoken boils down to Magic, Parkour, some collectathon, and crafting elements.

Combat is entirely based on elemental magic spells. There are light attacks, heavy attacks, and support spells.

Frey starts out with Earth/Purple Magic. Attacks consists of hurling rocks towards enemies, single rocks, rapid shots, and a chargeable shield. Support spells are plant-based (not almond milk, like!), which include healing vine whips, incapacitating vines, plantable mines, and assault plants that fire projectiles. Traversal adds flips that speed up your parkour and the ability to kick off vertical surfaces to reach higher areas.

The next set of spells unlocked is Fire/Red Magic. Attacks are a close combat fire sword, a chargeable larger fire sword, a long-distance fire lance, and fire-infused punches. Supports have a firey shoulder charge, lava eruptions, phantom fire swords that attack while you charge spells, and 2 fire zombies to attack enemies. Traversal adds another vertical increasing kick, a fire boost move while running, and a grappling fire chain to access higher areas.

Then comes Water/Blue Magic. Attacks are water arrows, one chargeable arrow, a fan of horizontal arrows, and my favourite, firing an arrow to the sky and it rains a flurry of arrows on your enemies.
Supports include a smokescreen, a water tornado, and a homing poison inflicting water snake. Traversal has a surf move, unfortunately, there aren’t enough bodies of water to get more use of this and a glide move.

Lastly, you unlock Electricity/Green Magic. Attacks give you electricity darts, multiple homing beams, an AOE electric pulse, and calling down lightning on marked enemies. Support spells include causing enemies to attack each other, an exploding spear, floating homing bombs, creating a clone to draw enemies’ attention away from you, and even an invisibility spell. Traversal is a triple jump move that only works from the ground, if this was a standard triple jump on top of the previously unlocked vertical moves would have been great for parkour flow.

You can use cuff to scan enemies to find out what magic they are vulnerable to and resistant to. In the early game this doesn’t help greatly when you don’t have access to the magic that the miniboss is vulnerable to. I missed a few minibosses in the early game because I didn’t have the spells to hurt them and forgot to go back to them in late game.

Crafting isn’t much really, you craft healing items and gems for upgrading cloaks and necklaces. Having to find a crafting table to make more healing items is a pain. You can also paint your nails with powerful runes to enhance certain abilities. I genuinely forgot about this option for a long time until I unlocked more runes after defeating a miniboss later in the game. It didn’t really add much of an improvement for me.

There are many side quests, or detours, ranging from following cats, helping residents find items, dancing, and more. There just isn’t enough want or reward to do them. Most detours I completed left me just saying “is that it?” and feeling fairly deflated from wasted time so I just stopped doing them.

One thing I quite enjoyed were the Labyrinths. These are underground dungeons filled with enemies and a boss. Completing these unlocks new cloaks or necklaces, as well as some more lore. I loved finding new ones just to bash through it to see what type of boss I would fight, they are quite unique and varied.

The land of Athia is quite large and expansive. It is quite empty and devoid of anything of interest between where you’ve been and where you’re going. Once I got enough fast travel locations I would fast travel close to where I needed to get to so I could forego the lengthy slog along the empty areas.


The world is quite beautiful at times, there are quite a few larger set pieces that look great from a distance as you are approaching them. The problem is when you get closer, there are so many patchy and muddled textures once you get up close to most surfaces, plus textures pop in quite frequently.

The human character models are really detailed but there is something a little off with them. It’s like they look so realistic that they end up looking wrong in a way. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Probably some sort of uncanny valley weirdness thing.

The enemies look mostly good, they are quite gruesome, lots of ripped flesh, teeth galore and glowing. The break zombies just seem like multiples of the same body in different clothing. They don’t last long enough in a fight to be looked at in too much detail.

Now, on the positive, the spells look amazing, the colours, bursts, and ethereal flourishes of each spell just looks great. The smaller spells give little pops but that only accentuates the larger spells as the burst and fill the whole screen.


While it may have no New Game+, there is an endgame detour called “Blast from the Past” where you can replay any boss and cutscene in the game. I must have replayed the last boss fight about 3 times, it is a great fight but mainly just for that final scene! You also have an indefinite endgame where you can complete any detours and minibosses you missed along the main game.

There is also a prequel DLC, “In Tanta we trust” where Frey gets transported back in time to before the break and you fight alongside Tanta Cinta. I didn’t buy the DLC myself and don’t think I will. I know there was a plan to release multiple DLCs but poor sales led to them being scrapped after the first. I’ll stick with the completed main story.


There is a great story to be had here with a surprisingly deep lore to delve into. Frey’s attitude, bitterness, and defiance get in the way of experiencing the story and the game a lot of times. I found myself drowning her out for the most part and in the end, I’m glad I did. The final scenes of the story are amazing and would have been a perfect round out to Frey’s story arc if I cared enough about her.


  • Parkour is awesome!
  • Each magic class is unique and fun to experiment.
  • The lore is really intriguing.
  • The story is deep and made me want to push on for that alone..


  • Freys personality for the first 3/4 of the game.
  • Lack of interesting support characters.
  • Cuff is funny at first but hearing the same quips gets old.
  • World is far too big and sparsely filled.


Above Average

A great twist on the Alice in Wonderland story. Fantastic magic and parkour. Frey's bad attitude and unbridled defiance detracts from a great story and breaks immersion in the game. The game world is way too big and so sparsely populated.

The Bearded Blaavenger