Forspoken is an upcoming game set to be published by Square Enix and in development at Luminous Productions. It’s said to boast a vast open-world with an expansive magic system and swift traversal. Originally revealed as “Project Athia,” fans have been eagerly anticipating more information on how its gameplay systems will work, especially since we’ve seen the protagonist reveal incredible powers.
So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about Forspoken, including its release date, gameplay, story, soundtrack, setting and more.
Forspoken release date
Forspoken currently has a loose launch date set for Spring 2022. The game was announced during PlayStation’s Future of Gaming showcase last year under the codename “Project Athia.” Its reveal trailer gave us a vague idea of what to expect from its gameplay and world. Back in March, the game received its final title as Forspoken, along with a deeper look into its story.
Forspoken is in development with Luminous Productions, which is a subsidiary of Square Enix. This is the same group that worked on Final Fantasy XV before assembling their own team for original titles. The team was originally founded by Final Fantasy XV’s director Hajime Tabata shortly before he left the team to pursue his own game development.
Forspoken seeks to give the player the tools to explore an open-world utilizing an expansive magic system and the ability to seamlessly leap around environments. Director Takeshi Aramaki claims the game uses fluid movement, with Square Enix describing it as a “narrative-driven adventure.”
Forspoken’s most recent trailer offered a deeper look into what to expect from the story, but there are a few moments of gameplay worth analyzing. We see our protagonist, Frey Holland, running around an arena as a dragon swipes at her. She also traps a couple of flying monsters in a water orb, sets magically imbued explosive traps, summons a flame sword to whack foes, turns enemies to ice, fluidly leaps between the tops of buildings, conjures shifty platforms underneath her to elevate herself temporarily, and even pulls herself onto a tether to clear a gap. She can even launch magical projectiles from her palm like a machine gun.
With Final Fantasy XV, Luminous Production took a dive into developing an open-world narrative-driven game. However, the team’s engaging main missions were held back by a large yet empty world with repetitive side-quests; this sense of scale was most hindered by the player being unable to explore the gigantic setting fluidly. The Regalia (the game’s iconic vehicle) was certainly unique, but it was more of a nice way to look at the environment rather than actually leave your car and run around in it.
On the other hand, Forspoken could thrive with a world similar in size to the one in Final Fantasy XV. After what we’ve seen of Forspoken’s fluid movement that has Frey jumping off cliffs and between rocks, these environments can be justifiably huge without feeling daunting to explore.
It might be important to emphasize a slight emptiness in the setting. If Forspoken is overwhelmed with cities, characters and quests, players will have their parkour frequently interrupted by things to interact with. Climbing and sprinting at breakneck speeds makes exploration more satisfying, giving Luminous Productions the ability to keep its environments open with significant distance between landmarks to encourage the player to be on the move at all times.
The basis of Forspoken’s narrative might seem familiar to some, as it revolves around a character from a modern day setting getting transported to a fantasy world. This is often referred to as an “isekai,” which is a popular genre in Japan within video games, anime and manga. The plot centers around someone suddenly appearing in another world.
In the game’s story trailer, we hear dialogue where Frey Holland is blown away by the sudden powers she develops, with her referencing how she can move stuff with her mind and use magic. She’s even further amazed by the presence of a dragon, so we can expect that the game will feature plenty of dialogue where the main character is reacting to the world alongside the player.
Isekai often revolve around themes of redemption and growth, pushing the main character to shift their perspective on the value of life by giving them a new one to live. This is evident in the game’s story trailer, as we see Frey bullied in an alley as she’s punched in the stomach and falls to the ground. She makes a wish on top of a giant hotel sign after she speaks to her cat about how they’re going to escape the city. Frey wishes for clean air, bright skies and no more fights. And suddenly, she’s transported into a mysterious fantasy realm filled with magic and monsters.
By giving Frey a sympathetic backstory, it’s easier for players to get absorbed in her escapist power fantasy. She goes from a bullied nobody in an overpacked city to a powerful magician that has the fate of the world resting on her shoulders. Considering this trope is pretty common, Forspoken’s narrative needs to shine most in its execution. We can anticipate the game’s main themes, so it’s up to the script and performances to carry the weight of the story.
Forspoken is written by Amy Hennig, Gary Whitta, Allison Rymer and Todd Stashwick. Hennig is known for her work as creative director and writer on the original Uncharted trilogy, making her responsible for one of the most iconic PlayStation exclusive franchises. Although she’s done some work in the industry afterward, Forspoken looks to be her first big project since. And Whitta is known for his work co-writing the story of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Forspoken takes place in a mysterious fantasy realm filled with dragons, kingdoms and magic. Most of the environments shown in footage are expansive to encourage the player to sprint and parkour through them. Additionally, we’ve seen Frey face-off against monstrous bears, wolves, stone giants and a mysterious boss in a throne room.
One thing I’ve noticed while analyzing the game’s story trailer is that every instance of architecture is overgrown and a few structures are in ruin. We barely see any characters in an outside environment, with the only two speaking to Frey in an interior. Perhaps Forspoken’s world is post-death, populated with empty cities ravaged by monsters and wrought by war.
Fans have theorized that Forspoken is the evolution of Agni’s Philosophy, which was a Final Fantasy tech demo revealed in 2012 to showcase what the future of the series could look like. Considering this demonstration was from Luminous, it would make sense that there’s a slight evolution from those ideas in Forspoken, especially since the aesthetic is similar.
Forspoken is composed by Bear McCreary and Garry Schyman. McCreary is best known for his phenomenal work on 2018’s God of War, and thankfully, he has returned to compose God of War: Ragnarok. McCreary has also worked on The Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Outlander, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, 10 Cloverfield Lane and much more.
Schyman has composed for the Bioshock series, Guild Wars 2, both Middle Earth: Shadow games and more. Considering how intense, atmospheric and emotional the Bioshock soundtrack can get, I’m excited to see how his music can enhance Forspoken.
Forspoken will feature ray-tracing technology, as confirmed by Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda. As translated by Gematsu, Matusda claims that “PS5 dramatically improves video technology, such as with the implementation of light-reflecting ‘ray-tracing’ technology. Compared to what you see on PC, it is nearly identical. By utilizing these special traits, we’re able to create incredibly precise imagery.”
Considering how other PS5 games handle ray-tracing, we can probably expect a Performance and Fidelity mode, where the latter puts the game at 30fps to achieve a 4K resolution and implement ray-tracing technology. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart had Fidelity, Performance and Performance Ray-tracing modes to allow players more customizability in how they wanted to experience the game. If possible, Forspoken should implement a similar system.