In case you haven’t heard, Forspoken is kind of a mess. To say that reviews are mixed would be an understatement. But while a good number can find something positive to say about the combat, the same can’t be said about the story and its writing.
To recap: Alfre Holland, or Frey, is a New Yorker who suddenly finds herself whisked to Athia thanks to a sentient magical bracelet that she calls Cuff. Once in Athia, Frey can use magic, but she’s quickly taken into custody by the people of Cipal. The country has seen better days – the Tantas have gone mad and oppressed the world while the mysterious Break corrupts the land, turning animals and people into monsters.
For some reason, Frey is immune. After escaping prison in Cipal (with some assistance from Auden, a citizen of Athia whose father researched the Break), she embarks on a journey. She’s not keen on saving the world or fighting the Tantas at first, but eventually, she rises to the occasion. So how does it all end?
Major spoilers follow from this point onwards. If you want to experience the story for yourself – which will take about eight hours if you rush through – then turn back now.
To the surprise of probably no one, Cuff is the main villain. Yes, the sentient bracelet. It was actually a bad guy. It’s hilarious but also horrifying.
Several years before the game’s events, the Tantas and Athians fought against the Rhedigg, an invading force. Though Athia won, the cost was great, with dwindling resources and growing unrest. A rift formed between the Tantas, which blinded them to the Rheddig’s “revenge,” as it were – Susurrus, a creature imprisoned by the first Tanta and now free to wreak havoc. The Tantas won the fight, containing Susurrus in bracelets that they wore. However, it would continue to taunt them, eventually driving them mad.
As the Tantas gradually lost their sanity, they distanced themselves to diffuse Susurrus’s strength. Of course, upon succumbing to corruption, they became tyrants. For example, Tanta Sila went on a spree of culling the weak in her kingdom, ensuring only the strong survived.
Frey’s mother was also a Tanta. Remember that dragon with a glowing red core in its chest? That’s her.
After the war with the Rhedigg, Tanta Cinta, Frey’s mother, ventured to New York and met her father, Al. Yes, Al. No, not that Al. One thing led to another, and Frey was born.
However, Susurrus arrived when Cinta was still carrying. After the Tantas imprisoned him, Cinta feared she would also be corrupted and potentially harm Frey. She opened a gate to New York and sent Frey there before finally succumbing and turning into a dragon. After being discovered in Holland Tunnel, Frey’s name is complete, and the rest is history.
However, when Cinta sent Frey to New York, her bracelet containing Susurrus detached itself and went along for the ride. Thus did Frey discover Cuff and make her way back to Athia, following the bracelet’s instructions and taking down the Tantas to unwittingly free it. Since she’s the daughter of a Tanta and inherits powers from all four, Frey doesn’t need Cuff to use them. Upon awakening her magical abilities, she regains each Tanta’s power while learning about past events, and proceeds to the final battle.
Before that, Frey is given a choice by Cinta to return to New York or to fight against Susurrus. Choosing the former takes her back to the city, where she’s abruptly shown reuniting with her cat Homer before asking, “Where do we go now?”
The latter sees Frey returning to Cipal, confronting Cuff for his susness and engaging in battle while riding Cinta’s dragon form. However, Susurrus has the power of lasers and birds. Cinta protects Frey from a devastating attack and eventually helps awaken her power, thus creating Tanta Frey. Upon defeating Susurrus, Frey entraps its final shred of being in her right hand.
Frey is celebrated as a hero in Cipal – three weeks pass, and she takes part in a lantern rite-style festival, honoring her mother. Throughout, she sees what seem to be ghosts of the Tantas Sila, Prave, Olas and Cinta before they quickly disappear. Frey later monologues about missing her cat Homer, and promises to return for him.
More time has passed, and the Break is clearing up thanks to Frey, though she doesn’t know how to get rid of it completely. She recommends that Auden join the city’s Council and then reveals that Cuff is still with her (as the latter insists his name is Vambrace, because comedy). So there’s your storyline reason for continuing to have Cuff with her. Even though he caused countless deaths, manipulated Frey, tried to destroy Cipal, corrupted the Tantas and killed Cinta, and tried to kill Frey multiple times. But what’s a few betrayals and genocide between some good ol’ banter?
The staggering lack of anything else is incredible. From there, the final chapter opens up, and the player can explore the post-game. It’s not quite known if there’s any way to stop the Break, but there will likely be superbosses and other powerful threats to vanquish.
At first glance, it seemed Forspoken would reveal that Frey wasn’t from New York. That she was from Athia, and her mother helped her escape the Break before it was too late, hoping she would return and save them. When Frey does return, it’s with apprehension, but she slowly – through the relationships built with the world and its people – realizes that this is where she belongs. Of course, she becomes a hero in the process.
The current iteration of Forspoken reaches that same conclusion but reserves its most interesting story-telling for the last hour. Unfortunately, not only does it dump all this on the player, but then settles for a lame-duck finish. Frey still having Cuff around to keep an eye on him is understandable, but using this to continue with annoying banter is certainly a choice. Also, didn’t the Tantas become corrupted by having Susurrus so close to them? I digress.
Where does Forspoken go from here? In terms of a sequel, it’s hard to imagine any follow-up. Maybe some new threats could emerge from the Break, or Frey travels to another world and gains new powers.
Instead of a direct continuation, it’s back to the past this Summer with the prequel DLC. Outside of a short gameplay clip, nothing is known about the prequel DLC, though the name implies that we’ll play as the Tantas. Perhaps the war against the Rheddig will be the central conflict, along with the battle against Susurrus. Maybe Cinta’s trip to New York will get more context.
Honestly, it’s to get enthused about all this when you already know how it all plays out. It could be incredible or reuse powers from the base game when playing as the Tantas. Time will tell.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.
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