It is easier for the lesser known games to get released under the radar, especially if they are released at a similar time of year to games like Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Forced definitely falls into that category of game, releasing near the end of October. A top down action game that pushes you to your limits and tells you from the get go that you will be dying a lot, but is this a successful tactic or have they shot themselves in the foot?
The game sees you take control of a nameless gladiator, trained by birth to take part in a gruesome series of trials from which many never return. With a spirit guide by your side, you are challenged with exploring the Hall of Trials and completing each one you come across. The trials themselves are only a few minutes long each, but will consist of you killing a number of enemies whilst simultaneously partaking in certain tasks including moving spirit blocks, lighting spirit lights and blowing up various items. Whilst the trials do vary, there’s a feeling of deja vu as you go between them, because you will find yourself repeating some trivial tasks at times.
Forced: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4
Developer: BetaDwarf ApS
Publisher: BetaDwarf Aps
Release Date: 22 October 2015
Price: £11.99 [Disclosure Game Copy provided by Developer]
For the most part though, the game does well to hold your interest, if not getting a little frustrating at times with its fairly steep learning curve. With four weapons to master, as well as learning to control your spirit guide, and only a short tutorial to introduce you to the game, there’s a slight feeling of being thrown in at the deep end. Some players may relish this, whilst others may feel a little hard done by. The first trial also does well to ease you in, but by the end of the first area you may very well be pulling your hair out and shouting explitives at the TV, as you try and fail over and over at certain trials.
The variety of the weapons means that there should be a fighting style to suit everyone, whether they like to fight from a distance with the bow, up close with the spirit claws, deal big damage with the hammer or play it more defensively with the ice shield. As well as your basic attack and block, you can unlock and assign special attacks which will each have their own cooldown and must be used at the right time to be most effective. You unlock these as you collect crystals from completing the trials, which you can earn a maximum of 3 for, by completing the trial, its challenge and within the specified time limit. There’s also a boss to fight at the end of each area, but only after completing a certain number of trials, so the game does well in encouraging you to explore and partake in all the trials as much as possible.
The game advises you right at the start that your experience will be made easier with a friend, and with the chance to play with up to 3 friends online or local, it’s easy to see the focus has been put on multiplayer. Unfortunately, I found the game a little too hard on my own to get very far through, and even playing with one extra person still proved a challenge. With the online multiplayer fairly non existent either due to lack of players or bad matchmaking, you are most likely going to have to struggle through the majority of the game on your own, unless you have 3 willing friends to sink some time into the game with you. If the campaign starts to get a little trying, there is also the opportunity to compete in the survival mode, which is fairly self explanatory. With different arenas and bronze, silver and gold medals to earn on each, this is a nice break from the campaign and challenges you to stand and fight for as long as you can.
Forced does not have many problems, but the main one that I had gripes with are the controls. Moving with the left stick is fine, but having to aim and turn your character with the right stick, and them not turning at all themselves, I found a little irritating. This was specifically annoying when fighting lots of enemies and trying to aim at a particular one, which is pretty much impossible. The story and characters in the campaign are fairly minimal and uninteresting for the most part, but the game still manages to look quite nice and the enviroments are nicely detailed and coloured. The music is suitably dramatic in the big fights, but the voice overs for the characters that do speak are mostly dull.
For what it is, Forced is perfectly fine. A simple story set in an interesting environment with basic controls makes for a good game to be able to jump into. Unfortunately, there’s a fairly hefty learning curve for those gamers who aren’t used to the genre, and it doesn’t get much easier for you with a friend. The problems are minimal, but the control system won’t suit everyone, and the game will mostly appeal to those who are already fans of the genre. If you want a tough, top down, action game that will challenge you all the way through, then give Forced a go. If not, then it’s probably best to give this a miss.