Welcome to a challenging arcade action RPG full of puzzles and monsters. Developed and published by BetaDwarf, it is an adventure that takes strategy, strength, and perhaps a little teamwork to complete. You can play solo or up to 4 person co-op (local and/or online) in campaign or survival modes. Take up the role of a slave thrown into a merciless gladiator school. There's only two ways out of it; through freedom or death. You won't be alone even if you're alone; you're spirit mentor, known as Balfus, will do what he can to assist you in your journey to freedom through this twin-stick combat arena RPG.
After a cutscene explaining how you were branded from birth to be a slave and have trained your whole life for the gauntlet that nobody before has ever survived, you get dropped down into the depths of your greatest challenge. Playing through a quick tutorial as you're guided by your spirit mentor will lead you to make the choice of you to play with. You'll need to select between 4 different potential characters, each with their own unique attack styles. You can choose either the dual dagger wielding rogue, hammer swinging warrior, the shield defender, or the archer. You won't be trapped into one or the other; you'll be able to switch between them as you like inbetween the stages and they all level up simultaneously.
If you're playing with others, wether online or offline, you'll need to work out who plays as who since no two players can be the same character. The game is less a story with gameplay attached, and more a gameplay with a told reason as to why you do what you do (you're a slave fighting to survive in a gladiator arena). There's many moments of dialogue where the story shows through, but generally its all the same concept; the taunting trial guardian provokes you by calling you weak and unworthy as you fight your way through the trials.
It's split up into stages, each with challenges/trials that need completing in order to further progress to the boss fight. There's a certain balancing to the game's difficulty based on how many players are in the party at a time, but playing solo carries a strong amount of difficulty on it's own. It's a hack an slash styled game but doesn't push any boundaries of true combat strategy. You'll have your standard attacks (arguably kind of slow for a a couple of the characters) and a variety of special attacks. You'll gain new special abilities as you progress through more trials. While the difficulty feels easier with friends, you're personal enjoyment from the game will also come heavily on co-op. The game can feel overwhelmingly challenging due to a lack of pure combat strategy, so the best remedy for fun is to be laughing with friends as you fight to survive together.
Wether playing solo or with friends, you're given control of an orb (your spirit mentor). Each player doesn't posses their own however; when playing in co-op mode, you'll have to share it with your friends. The main purpose of the orb is for progressing past traps and puzzles. You'll call the orb and let it fly to your position where it will then hold that spot. You'll continuously need to call it to have it nearby or simply put it into chase mode. The way you use it for puzzles is simple. You'll position it on one side, for example, and then run around to the other side of a specific point of interest, where you'll then call it to you so that it will interact with said point of interest. It's nothing too complicated but it will require some thinking and practice at times.
Sound and Graphics
With so many RPG titles, the sound effects for iron based weapons clashing, spells being casted, and war grunting as you fight to the death become hard to make unique. I'm not saying the audio is bad, it's actually pretty well done, it's just nothing to claim is amazing. Voice acting can be found in the game, and although the emotions behind some of the speech is a little unenthusiastic, there's a lot of it. Balfus, your spirit mentor, talks probably the most as he constantly guides you through each trial and fills in a lot of dialogue in between. His voice acting is pretty good and uplifting in nature as he tries to encourage you to survive the trials and stages.
The game looks a slightly cartoonish and perhaps arguably outdated for the current consoles, but it still holds bright and vibrant environments to slay foes throughout. It presents individuality with the cartoon-like design but seriously bloody combat, making it a top-down RPG that is easy going on the eyes and clearly visible regarding the environments. It's heavily designed like arenas, some even being pretty tightly spaced so that you can't hide during major boss fighting. It's noteworthy to mention that there are a few technical issues that I experienced mostly just with loading the game or a game mode, but general gameplay performance had very few.
Forced: Slightly Better Edition is a fun game of progression through trials and a fight for survival, especially when you take on the challenge with friends. The story of playing as slaved men who must earn their lives through a gladiator arena ladder is simple yet efficient in setting the tone for gameplay. The idea of simultaneously progressing your characters at the same time makes the feeling of overall improvements continuous throughout your adventures, as well as avoiding limitations for diversity (even more so when playing with friends and taking turns who plays as who).
Graphically it's easy to look at and comes with little glitching or bugginess. The support of voice acting is one of the best parts of the game since it brings everything else to life, even if the tones of speech are a little bland at times. To make the statement again, playing single player may become boring after some time, but playing with friends will make it a game worthy for some of you time.
|+ Fun co-op gameplay||– Bland combat gameplay|
|+ A large amount of dialogue||– Lacks deeper progression and/or customization|
|+ Interesting use of spirit mentor orb|