REVIEW: ‘The Forbidden Arts’ Builds an Immersive World (Xbox One)

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Forbidden Arts

Video games like The Legend of ZeldaCrash Bandicoot, Super Mario 64, and Donkey Kong have all changed the action-platformer genre in major ways, quickly gaining admiration and praise. They’ve also inspired countless other games in the genre, like The Forbidden Arts. Developed and published by Stingbot Games, The Forbidden Arts is an action-adventure platform game that focuses primarily on discovery and adventure. This single-player game follows Phoenix, the hero of the story, who has visions that he can’t quite understand.

He seeks out the counsel of a druid hoping that she can make sense of his visions. The druid unlocks the special ability of pyromancy that has been locked within him. Wanting to know more about his gift and why it was given to him, Phoenix embarks on a life-changing adventure that will lead him to various worlds.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Forbidden Arts, especially since not a lot of information was given about it. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall premise of the game. I’m always looking for a new single-player game with an intriguing story.

The game reveals elements of this universe at a steady pace rather than giving the full rundown. It’s a coming-of-age story filled with adventure and peril that I hadn’t seen for quite some time. The Forbidden Arts uses a combination of 2D gameplay while in dungeons and 3D gameplay while exploring the different regions of the Otherworld, which is what this dimension is called. This is a unique style of gameplay that I’m not quite used to, but I was pleasantly surprised upon discovering that it was included.

However, it was a bit confusing to adapt to it at first since the game doesn’t alert you that the transition had been made. The transition did often pull me out of the game. It would’ve been much more beneficial overall if the game mainly focused on one style of gameplay rather than mixing two different styles. As Phoenix, you can use a variety of strikes and magic abilities to take down enemies. Phoenix is automatically equipped with two blades that are good choices for close combat. When he meets the druid and is given the gift of fire, players can use fireballs for more long-ranged attacks. It deals more damage to enemies, which is recommended when facing off against tougher enemies.

Using fire attacks drains the magic meter, which needs to be replenished near bonfires or torches. Players can regain health from defeating enemies. Phoenix will unlock more abilities as the game progresses, which provide a range of combos that they can inflict. I’d recommend using a variety of attacks and jumping over enemies to guarantee success.

Players will need to complete side quests to advance while in dungeons. The side quests come from friendly NPCs who want to offer Phoenix help along the way. Most of the side quest are platform-based puzzles that often need to be solved without given any clues. Some side quests can be found exploring the outside regions of Otherworld. Collecting enough gold pieces either in the regions or in the dungeons allows players to access these side quests. Upon completion, players can gain a boost in health or power.

Forbidden Arts

The platforming provides an element of challenge that I can appreciate. I was often reminded of playing the original Tomb Raider games. Players need to maneuver through the dungeons by scaling walls, jumping over gaps, and climbing vines. There are different paths that players can take, which offer hidden rewards and gold that can be used for the challenges. However, it’s a bit unclear at times where the main path was.

With so many different ways to go, there wasn’t a clear indicator that instructed where to go. Most of the time I spent playing was trying to figure out what the correct path was. While this offers more challenges and the element of exploration, the game could have benefited from outlining the main path to take.

Several of the options offered in the game could improve the gaming experience for several players. The Forbidden Arts offers a variety of different languages for the dialogue for a more international audience. It offers subtitles during the cutscenes for those who need them. Not only does the gave save a player’s progress when they reach a certain area, but it also offers the chance to save at any moment. I for one appreciate this since I can take a break from playing whenever I want rather than having to reach a certain point.

The music selection of the game is rather unique. Each different region has its own background music, which adds a rather unique feeling to the overall experience of the game. However, it can get tiring and annoying having to listen to the same song over and over until you complete the area. It would have been much more beneficial had there been no background music and for the game to have just used natural sounds. There were also times where the music playing through the cutscenes made it difficult to hear what was being said. Subtitles came in handy during times like this.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing The Forbidden Arts. Though the controls and overall gameplay was simple, the premise was what intrigued me the most and encouraged me to keep playing. The platforming offered challenging moments that brought the nostalgia of playing other similar games.

The single-player aspect of the game offers a much more steady pace of the overall gaming experience that many of the popular games today don’t offer. Some of the mechanics of the game prevent me from giving it a perfect score, but I’m hoping that there are patches that can fix them. If you’re looking for a fun action-platform game with a unique premise, this is the game for you.

The Forbidden Arts is available for purchase now on Steam, Nintendo Shop, and the Xbox Store.

The Forbidden Arts
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10


I thoroughly enjoyed playing The Forbidden Arts. Though the controls and overall gameplay was simple, the premise was what intrigued me the most and encouraged me to keep playing. The platforming offered challenging moments that brought the nostalgia of playing other similar games.

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