Foregone is a side-scrolling action-platformer, in which players are put into the shoes of the Arbiter, a technologically enhanced super-soldier tasked with protecting the city of Calagan. To do so, you’ll need to fight your way through 2D levels filled with enemies, chasing down escaped beasts and uncovering the conspiracy threatening to destroy the world.
Anyone’s first impression of this game is likely to be that it’s a beautiful return to a more retro age. The art style is a joy to look at and though the story is a bit threadbare, it’s compelling enough that you’re encouraged to keep exploring the gorgeous world the developers have built. And, while it may have been a small touch, the fact that the protagonist has a voice actor – if only for a handful of lines at the beginning of each level – was a really nice addition, and made her feel that much more real, something which helped to offset the very limited characterisation you start with.
The gameplay itself is primarily devoted to fast-paced, close-range combat, with periodic boss battles to test your mastery of the protagonist’s various weapons and abilities. There are occasional platforming sections thrown in, but they’re never particularly challenging and the core focus stays firmly on fighting.
Foregone has a range of different enemy types, each of which have their own moves and abilities that players will need to learn to avoid taking too many hits on what can be gruelling runs between checkpoints, with only a limited amount of healing to sustain them. By matching different enemy types together in a variety of environments, the developers have managed to get surprisingly varied encounters from relatively little content. As a result, the game manages to stay feeling fresh even after several hours of play, a sensation that is only strengthened by Foregone’s gradual progression system.
Players will have two equipped weapons – one ranged and one melee – and three defensive items – an armour set, a ring, and a necklace. These are dropped randomly from fallen enemies and can be sold to the Blacksmith in the world hub, the Outpost, for coins that are then used to upgrade the items you want to keep. There are only a handful of weapon variations to keep things simple, but each one has a different attack speed and pattern to learn, so players can experiment to find what works best against different enemy types and adapt to their situations accordingly. Likewise, defensive items generally only have one or two stats to worry about and it is made clear what each one does, meaning that players can get the hang of them quickly.
The Outpost is home to another vendor, the Thaumaturge, through whom you can upgrade your abilities using gems that you earn when you kill enemies. At the beginning of the game you’ll find two abilities to get you started, a dash attack and a healing, aura. But as you complete more levels you’ll encounter different powers to experiment with. As you can only have two abilities equipped at once, players are encouraged to change their load-outs to best suit the area they’re in, while still trying to retain a balance between aggressive moves that can take out heavy-hitting enemies, and defensive abilities that will make your limited health pool stretch just far enough to reach the next checkpoint.
These gems and coins are the primary currency of the game, and it is these that you lose should you die. When that happens – as it likely often will – players will be sent back to the world hub and presented with the option of either running the gauntlet to try to recover their lost items from the spot where they died without dying for a second time, Dark Souls-style, or making a deal with the third NPC of the Outpost, the Ferryman, who will give you back half of what you lost straight away. As the checkpoint system can be quite unforgiving, this can often be the better option, instead of risking it all on a long slog back to your death spot.
Using this relatively simple levelling system, Foregone does a really good job of making you feel awesome as you duck and weave between enemy attacks, and the speed with which you can respawn and try again softens the difficulty curve as the story progresses. The game is undoubtedly difficult in places, but its short gameplay loop keeps it enticing enough to push through the challenges.
That being said, the controls can leave a little to be desired at times. In particular, I found that the dodge ability never travelled quite as far as it felt like it should, and I would often take a small amount of damage from any attack I tried to dodge through rather than away from. This may just have been the result of me mistiming my move, but I had similar problems when trying to slide underneath harmful pieces of immobile scenery despite standing as close to it as I could before hitting the button.
Less threatening to my health, but equally annoying was the inability to direct ranged attacks; instead of aiming your gun or bow manually, your avatar will shoot the closest enemy to them in the direction you are facing. This means that you don’t need to worry about fiddly aiming controls and allows you to switch between melee and ranged attacks very quickly, making fights feel fluid and much more engaging. However, the auto aim isn’t great – if your target is above or below you by more than a small margin, as they often are with bugs crawling around on walls and ceilings, you won’t be able to shoot it. This typically means that you’ll either have to wait around until the enemy moves into a position where they are level with you, bringing the entire game to a standstill, or relocate yourself to a position where you can either shoot it or use a melee attack, potentially putting yourself in a position where you take unavoidable damage.
As ranged attacks are such a big part of the combat in Foregone, this felt like a bizarre oversight by the developers, and only grew more of an irritant as the game went on and health became much more precious.
Ultimately, though, these are small complaints. Foregone is very clearly a game crafted by developers who loved the retro 2D action-platformers of old, and they’ve done a brilliant job of translating that genre into something modern and fun to explore. If you’ve never enjoyed that type of game, then Foregone probably isn’t for you, but if you did – or you simply haven’t tried one yet – this one is well worth a look.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7.5/10
Graphics - 8.5/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Foregone is very clearly a game crafted by developers who loved the retro 2D action-platformers of old.
- Beautiful art style.
- Very fast, fluid combat that looks and feels amazing.
- A simplistic levelling system that doesn’t slow you down.
- Some of the controls feel like they still need some work.