Reviews for a game are rarely overwhelmingly positive, like Elden Ring, or devastatingly negative. Gamers also seldom agree something is truly good or bad. Sure, everybody has their own separate opinion, but occasionally something so remarkable or horrible, all conclusions only reach one extreme.
Square Enix’s new RPG Forspoken is going to be one of the first AAA releases of 2023. With the release day approaching, the new IP is the center of attention in the gaming world. But that isn’t because of reasons the developers would like.
Forspoken has divided critics since its first story trailer in September 2021. Despite the engrossing story, people have been skeptical about the upcoming RPG for more than a year now. And the criticism has only increased as time has gone by.
Recently, Forspoken got its first demo from Square Enix, allowing fans to finally experience the game. But, the reception just got even more divisive after the demo. While the players have liked some aspects like the gameplay and the fantasy world of Athia, the title just has too many flaws.
The graphics in the demo are very lackluster, especially for a modern AAA role-playing game. This problem is amplified by the heavy PC specs required to play Forspoken at its highest settings. You need an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 video card, 24GB RAM, and Intel Core i7-8700K (3.7 GHz minimum) to run Forspoken on just normal graphics.
What you need for the best result possible is absurd, and the fans are unhappy. But these aren’t even the worst flaws the Square Enix RPG has to fix. Its biggest problem is something that fans have been dissecting for over a year: the cringe dialogue.
The Dialogue Writing Is Forspoken’s Biggest Issue
Dialogue writing is one of the most important aspects of any form of media. Even if your story or idea is amazing, it has no value if you can’t convey it in the right manner. Video games also depend on dialogues to tell the player what’s happening.
Good writing is necessary even for those games in which the protagonist doesn’t speak. If the NPCs speak in a weird and unrealistic manner, you lose interest in the game world. But dialogue writing is especially necessary to make a game like Forspoken work.
When the protagonist does speak like Frey, the writing has to be perfect. It needs to be spot-on to construct a personality that a player can relate to or at least tolerate while playing the game. But, Forspoken fails miserably while trying to do that.
As you have already seen, the dialogue in the game is lame and extremely cringe. Frey doesn’t speak like someone in a fantasy world but like an MCU character. You can probably bear such quips in a 2-hour film, but it’s very annoying in a video game.
In Forspoken, our protagonist has a talking cuff to which she speaks. The two speak regularly, and the inanimate object is our companion on this journey. However, the dialogue in these exchanges is tedious and irksome.
High on Life is another game that made use of such a mechanic with its talking weapons. Dialogue in this game was also intolerable and unfunny, but the game was self-conscious of this. It actively pokes fun at this very bad dialogue which makes it a little bearable.
No doubt, the writing in High on Life is more cringe-worthy than in Forspoken. But, its recognition of this fact and ability to make fun of itself makes it an interesting experience. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the Square Enix RPG.
Frey and the cuff have exchanges that are either unfunny, frequently annoying or both. Sometimes, their reactions are completely inaccurate to the situation in front of us. In the demo, our protagonist sees a remarkable sight, a sky filled with rock formations suspended in the air.
Normally, someone would be in awe of such a view, but Frey is completely nonchalant. She just mutters, “Yeah not my scene at all” to her cuff. Hence, making the dialogue entirely unrealistic to the fantasy world, we have been put in.
Keeping in mind the surroundings Frey saw, the writing is boring and detached from reality. Instead of making her react appropriately, the writers made the dialogue averse to what it actually would be. I don’t know about you, but if I saw flying rocks in a fantasy world where I can fly and use a magic cuff, I wouldn’t shrug it off like an everyday thing.
Reactions Are Uninspiring
The modern-day dialogue already feels out of place in the world of Athia and the unemotional character writing makes it worse. As a result, the character and the dialogue written for her makes it seem like she’s trying too hard to be cool. When in reality, it wouldn’t happen in such a way, making it come off as cringe.
Frey’s reactions fail to convey how wonderful Athia is. The game world is a fairy tale with monsters, remarkable imagery, and magic powers. But, how she responds to certain situations does not do justice to the insanity of the situation.
A beautiful and cruel new land? Twisted monsters? An array of magical abilities? Sentient jewellery!?
— Forspoken (@Forspoken) August 8, 2022
In the Forspoken trailer, we see her coming up against dragons. However, she describes them in a very uninspiring manner saying, “I am seeing freaking dragons.” Such a reaction is very uncharacteristic of what we see in front of us.
The indifferent way of describing fire-breathing monsters not seen in the real world is irrational. Frey sounds like she is narrating a chance encounter with a lion, not a dragon. Add the use of “freaking” in this exchange, and the writing makes this sequence corny.
Dialogue During Battle
Many games have characters say funny one-liners during fight sequences. Forspoken also tries to do this when Frey is battling enemies. But, like most things involving the game’s writing, this attempt also results in inconvenient dialogue.
Instead of filling this time with some funny or remotely gripping dialogue, the writing team does the opposite. Frey and the cuff pass witless remarks during a battle or repeat stuff obvious to the player. Hence, we hear remarks like “That will teach you” or “literally the last thing I need” which we can see for ourselves.
The quippy exchanges between Frey and the cuff are also more irritating than they are amusing. Of course, humor is subjective, but I am sure most players won’t like the frequent satirical interruptions like in the video below. In some instances, Forspoken doesn’t even consider the context of the lines.
Frey is getting beaten to a pulp by some enemies in the game. But, instead of screaming in agony or at least cussing, she just mutters, “The worse it tastes, the better it works” in a low voice. Such occurrences show how badly written the situational dialogue for the game is, making it even more illogical and insufferable.
Why This Is A Fatal Flaw
You can say that there is much more wrong with Forspoken than just the dialogue. It has subpar graphics compared to the industry standard for major studio releases nowadays. The graphics make the dialogue seem even worse, making the PC specs a laughing matter
However, such things can be fixed later on in the game via patches and updates. Updates, however, can’t fix poor dialogue, cliched writing, and an out-of-place character. For sure, Square Enix can patch new dialogue later on, but it will create divisive experiences for players.
Square Enix has given players the option to make the characters talk less to reduce this dialogue. But, it makes the problem seem worse in many ways.
The Japanese company previously said the memes were out of context and didn’t reflect the writing. However, giving this option to players contradicts this claim and proves that they are aware of how banal the dialogue is. Moreover, making Frey and other NPCs in Forspoken mute, isn’t the solution the company thinks it is.
— VG247 (@VG247) September 12, 2022
Essentially, Square Enix is saying we can’t write an entertaining character people can relate to. Nor can we give everyone in the game lines that are intriguing or at least reflect the game world. What we can allow you to not listen to the tedious dialogue we spent hours writing.
All isn’t doom and gloom for the upcoming Square Enix RPG. Forspoken has a strong combat system with terrific gameplay to hook the players. The fantasy game world of Athia is also worth exploring and spending time in.
But doing all of that will be tough, with unbearable and humorless dialogue interrupting you frequently. You can tolerate such writing in a movie, but it is hell to go through in a 20-plus-hour game. So, not only will Frey, the cuff, and the NPCs annoy you, but they also try their best to stop you from playing.
Even with this subpar dialogue, the game has something to offer. We hope if you buy it, you can look past it or at least tolerate it because Forspoken has the potential to be fun.
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