In Foregone, you are the first Arbiter, a breed of super soldiers developed by scientists from Calagan, a technologically advanced city now overrun by an invading state. It is a Souls-like through and through but has the pace of a rogue-like. Everything is quick, feels good, and encourages you to keep pushing forward. All in all, it is a very competent video game. I just wish it did a bit more with the great gameplay it offers.
Story & Gameplay — Standard Fare
The game follows the well-worn SoulsBorne trope of a ‘found’ story — one you piece together from fragments of texts and dilapidated buildings. The main issue here is that it wasn’t very interesting. That’s completely fine, I didn’t come to this game for some deep conspiratorial questioning of what it all really means, but it does make me wonder why it was there at all. In general, I got to the point where I was disinterested, not really caring why I was fighting a certain boss or who they were. What made this okay was the fact that the gameplay was so fluid and addictive. Once hooked, it was hard to stop.
The gameplay is also the SoulsBorne standard. You have checkpoints, which once reached, can take you back to the main hub. You head out, fight some bad guys, collect their dropped gems, and use that stuff to make you stronger, and allow yourself to move further forward. If you die before you reach the next checkpoint, you go back to the main hub and lose all your gems. From there, you can fast travel back to the previous checkpoint, and you have to make it back to your place of death to retrieve your stuff. If you die before you get there, however, it will be gone forever. Simple stuff.
The game zips along at first, not really encouraging exploration, but rather letting you enjoy the slick movement and combat. In my first half an hour of playtime, I collected dozens of weapons to play around with, all with really different play-styles. The fighting is instantly fluid, and all the weapons feel great to use. You also have a ranged weapon that is quick and satisfying, auto-aiming to the nearest enemy.
Your ammo is limited however, and is only replenished by melee attacks. This applies to your two specials, one offensive and one regenerative, which recharge over time and with combat respectively. By killing enemies you can also regain tiny bits of health, alongside two currencies. Gold is used to upgrade weapons, while these blue gems are used to upgrade your passive and active abilities. All in all, these systems are tight and work well together.
The only slight issue I had with these systems is that the upgrades to your own abilities are so minutely incremental that it never felt like they made a difference. I’m sure they did over time, but I never felt it, and you should be able to feel it. The best feeling was upgrading weapons, especially when you find a great weapon and fully upgrade it. At least then, for five minutes you feel more than capable. Then the game sends something really tough your way and the process starts again.
Speaking of tough, some of the bosses are absolutely brilliant. Project Demeter is especially good, and most of the design is thrilling and gorgeous. Bosses are key to a Souls game, and I’m happy to say that the bosses here make up for swarms of forgettable enemies you face in between. Each boss is tough, often has a couple of stages, and is animated beautifully. Just like all great boss battles, you learn your enemies’ rhythm and find a groove in between their attacks. Every boss here is very good and makes up for a lot of the more mediocre aspects.
The game felt most like Hollow Knight to me, in its layout and general appearance. You go around long mazes to open a shortcut for the next time you have to push through, explore different chambers surrounding a central hall, and generally find different locales in a similar way. The only difference is that this world of Calagan didn’t feel distinct. I never really understood how where I was related to the rest of the world. While in Hollow Knight you feel that you’re in different sections of an underground area, in Foregone it just feels like it’s one section and then another. I never actually knew where I was.
Visuals & Audio — Generic Beauty
The game will surprise you with its beauty pretty immediately; really smooth, free-flowing animations from the characters, detailed, artistic backgrounds — it is an engrossing spectacle. The main character is kind of forgettable, while the enemies are unique enough to immediately understand how they are going to attack you, but not special enough for me to really understand what they were. The backgrounds were gorgeous from time to time, but I found it very difficult to notice them. The game has such a constant frenetic pace that it is easy to overlook everything else.
The music is just fine, with uplifting dramatic sections and the kind of action-adventure aesthetic you’d expect. I didn’t really listen to it. I found that it just sat there, vaguely supporting the game. It never felt reactive, and rarely helped engross me in this world. Disappointing but by no means a dealbreaker. One aspect of the sound was especially good, however. Your character is fully voice acted, saying a lot at the beginning and a little throughout the rest of the game. This is a very nice and important touch, making this somewhat plain character much more relatable.
Foregone was reviewed on Nintendo Switch and a code was provided by Big Blue Bubble.