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Forced Review: Using DW-40 in All the Wrong Places

ForcedPreview4

Forced is a Kickstarter success PC game released by BetaDwarf. This was a game I was following not just because it peaked my gaming interested, but also because of the story the developers told on their website. This game has an interesting concept that I could get behind, not to mention the art was really cool. I waited until the game was out of Early Access to play it and I have to say, I have mixed feelings about the final product.

You are cast as slaves in the toughest fantasy gladiator school of them all, condemned to fight to the death, all the while attempting to win your freedom. You will face deadly trials and huge creatures, but Balfus, your Spirit Mentor will guide you in your quest to break the chains of oppression. The story is very meh, I mean, it doesn’t feel super special, but there have been way worse stories from the indie crowd. In a way, it just feels like something for the game to stand on so there is a reason why you are playing the way you are. That can be respected.

Forced is focused on Co-Op, that is the main selling point and I sit firmly believing that games with a focus on Co-Op cannot be properly judged when played by yourself. Needless to say, I did play this game by myself for a while and it was a snore fest. However, it does not excuse the clunky puzzle design and odd controls. This game is developed well for more than one person, and I can respect that. Many of the puzzles are slightly better when there is more than one person working to solve them. However, the way many of the puzzles are solved can be very aggravating due to the design of the ball of light you are given to solve them with.

This light is moved by dropping it in one place, and making it move across various formations to give it powers. These include healing powers and destructive magic. Early in the game, it gives you a controlled environment of what the puzzles will end up being, they are just in a more tactless manner. Most of these puzzles will be done in this manner, pass ball of light over red magic stuff, make it stop, move to another area, make it move but not move across walls or other objects, then have it stop, make it move again avoiding the same obstacles, get near objective, be too close blow yourself up and start over. At least that has been my experience. Despite being in total control of this orb you don’t feel like there is any control. This only gets harder later in the game when you have to do similar puzzles with a bunch of monsters in the way. Again, this is remedied when played with more than one person, but that frustration still transitions.

The character progression is a unique one, you must complete trials to earn crystals, these act as levels. Once you gain a certain number of crystals you can get a new skill slot and fill it with new skills. Now, this would be better used if the trials didn’t have almost unrealistic goals to fulfill. Like completing certain puzzles in a short amount of time when the character movement/light ball movement is sluggish in comparison to the time you must complete stuff. I like the idea, I really do, but it is executed poorly.

Then we have the combat, it feels like something is missing. At the beginning of a mission you choose what weapon you wish to use. Each one has a different method of attacking and its own set of active and passive skills. The variety is surprisingly diverse. Sadly, the skills feel underdeveloped and relatively unbalanced. However, in BetaDwarf’s defense, this may be due to each weapon being used by different players to balance each other out. I can accept that. Even when played with a full party something just feels missing from the combat and I cannot quite put my finger on it. The controls may take some getting used to since both Keyboard/mouse and controller feel odd in their own ways.

Forced is a game you want to like. I kept playing the game in hopes it would get better. It is a shame the game feels so rusty. It is filled with some gems of clever development and great Co-Op design, but mechanically speaking it feels awkward to play, even with a party of people. Forced seems to be lacking a special kind of polish to bring everything together. I give Forced a 6/10. It stands on its own as an original game idea, but falls on execution.

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