As we enter a new generation, one of the most exciting times is seeing how the gaming future is advancing. I got most hopeful for the future of JRPGs when I saw the first trailer for Forspoken, the first game led by Square Enix‘s Luminous Studios. Square Enix’s newest studio aimed to combine cutting-edge technology and art. From what they showed of Forspoken, they were succeeding. Of course, a trailer looking awesome is one thing. It playing well is a different story. Well, after playing the free demo available now on the PlayStation 5, I am more hopeful that this game is going to be just as fun as it always looked.
The Forspoken demo is about a 30-minute slice of the final game, popping us in about the early parts of the game. It didn’t give much of an idea of the story, only a general summary of how the main protagonist ended up in the world. However, the demo gave a good example of the relationship between the featured characters, Frey and her magical sentient bracelet. Their banter as the unassuming newcomer and knowledgeable sentient power helped make this quick glimpse in the world more welcoming. By the time I beat the demo, their relationship is what will have me come back for more when the game fully launches.
As for the gameplay, it has always looked like a spectacle. Surprisingly, it stays a beautiful, yet shallow, show-of-force. We’re given a limited set of powers, one that’s more ranged elemental focused, a fiery melee attack, and some nature-y defensive spells. They’re quick to switch between. Not completely free-flowing yet, with several ability types tied to different “weapon wheel” style selections; it could be confusing, yet isn’t. I am a little cautious that in the final release, it could get overwhelming just because of the overwhelming amount of selections because there is a promise through grayed-out options. of a lot more abilities that will be possible.
A positive is how easy it is to use the attacks. Each attack can be spammed by rapid-firing L2 and R2 or held to become more powerful. No matter what you do, Frey feels epic to play as. Every attack is flashy and big. The more powerful versions of spells look beautiful too. Yet many of the enemies were resistant to the ranged attacks, so staying with the melee fire spells made the demo not as exciting as it could’ve been. When I fought the “Hard” boss at the end of the demo, it melted while I felt like I wasn’t doing much to take it down. Particularly with the game’s powerful dodging, where you’re immune for a second when hitting the circle button, harder and larger groups of enemies never touched me. I hope that is more tied to the demo only playable on Easy difficulty.
Finally, the magical parkour is a lot of fun to use to explore the world. Again, with the limited number of spells, the parkour was also limited to just a teleporting fire spell. In its limited capacity, it still felt required to crab claw the controller to move quickly around the world and see where I was going. Even then, it was still fun to dash around and up hills right into an explosive fight. I am excited to do more elemental parkouring in the game’s final release because I know there is so much more it can encompass. As the demo’s quick introduction showed, it will include an icy snowboard, a grappling hook, and much more. Every element Frey uses will have its own dash mechanic to get around the world quickly.
Even as a quick look, the Forspoken demo excited me more for its final release than any trailer. As Luminous Studio’s first outing as the lead studio on a project, they made a spectacle of a game. Even if the attacks and movement don’t feel as fun as they look, they never felt old in my 30-minutes experience. And that’s before all the upgrades and wider amount of abilities the demo promised too. If this is how next-gen JRPGs are starting, Forspoken makes me hopeful about what this new generation holds for one of my all-time favorite genres.