“Wind of change”
Outside the sun is high, there are at least 35 degrees and my small pool is calling me. Desperately.
It’s hard to write a review in this condition, but it’s even harder if you have to write down something negative.
In the last weeks I played Forged of Blood quite a lot because I really wanted to find some positive aspects in the game; after all, we’re talking about an indie game made with great sacrifices and passion.
Obviously, if you are in a hurry, you can read my opinion at the bottom of the review, but I think it’s better to proceed in order because every indie game – even the less successful – need respect.
So what can we say about Forged of Blood? As many of you already know, the game has been developed by Critical Forge, an Indonesian team composed of only 8 people. It has been released just a few weeks ago, after many years of development and a failed funding campaign on Kickstarter.
The game is a fantasy tactical turn-based RPG that promises to innovate the genre with a lot of new and outstanding features.
Obviously, something, somewhere, has gone wrong…
“It’s a new day, it’s a new life”
The game takes place in the world of Attiras, a fantasy realm once ruled by a human.
After a short tutorial battle your father, the king is killed after a successful coup d’etat orchestrated by humans and now you, Tavias Caenican, have to take up arms in your family’s name and fight for your reign.
From this point, the story will unfold following the fantasy cliché, without relevant twists. But, mind you, I cannot say the game has a bad story, it is quite functional and it justifies the numerous battles you need to fight, but it’s predictable and I doubt you will remember it after few weeks.
As usual, in order to reach your goal, you will have to make important choices that will have some kind of consequences on the battles and on the management of your territories, but never on the story itself (for more details on the “choices” see below).
Ok, now let’s talk about the gameplay. Essentially Forged of Blood has two different sections.
The first one takes place on the strategic map. Here you can, not only select your next mission, but also manage your party and your territories. The map is really beautiful to watch – very “fantasy style” if you know what I mean – and, thanks to it, you can follow the movement of your troops between the various hotspots.
After a while, you will conquer a stronghold and, from there, you will be able to build structures that will aid you in your missions. This adds some strategy to the game but the abundance of money makes everything too easy.
The main problem of this section is that every single move and choice has to deal with the passage of time. So after a few hours of play, you will find yourself unable to complete most of the side quests given to you and the game soon becomes a mad race against the time!
Each mission is preceded or followed by dialogues between your main characters, in which you have to make some important choices. This is one of the most “revolutionary” features promised by the developers.
It is called “Tri-Axis Personality Index” and shifts the protagonist to one of the three personality traits each time he takes a decision: hedonism, altruism, and rationalism. Essentially, quite often, you will be asked to choose an answer to solve a problem. Do you remember the usual good/neutral/evil alignments of the old RPG? We are not very far from them…
The main fault of this “non-revolutionary” feature is that if you make the “wrong” decision many soldiers will simply desert, so, in other words, the game forces you to make decisions just to avoid negative consequences.
Besides, your choices will never generate any sort of plot twist, but, on the contrary, they will just influence the presence of some battles and/or the dimensions of your troops.
Unfortunately, overall the strategic and managing section of the game ends up being, not only quite boring but also awkward essentially because with its dozens of screens and sheets (so similar to each other!) it’s really easy to get lost. Same thing for the inventory and the ability screen: even if – at a first glance – the customization looks neat, this is just an illusion. There is an overwhelming number of details that transforms the screens in an anonymous and unnecessarily complicated rag-bag of data.
The second revolutionary feature is what it is described as one of the most flexible magic system in the world! Essentially you can create any spell you want (and this is true!) combining various proprieties and functions. The problem is that the use of this system is extraordinarily hard and requires the attending of a university course, at least!
The overall impression is that, even if this feature seems to grant the ability to edit whatever magic you want, everything ends being… unnecessarily complicated (again!).
Ok, now let’s talk about the tactical section.
In this regard, the inspiration of the game is clearly X-Com, but the overall feeling of the battle is not exactly the same…
The fights are always awkward, not immersive and clunky. In the last years we have had a lot of X-Com clone but – it’s hard to admit it – this is one of the less funny. The biggest problem is that, even if you have apparently dozens of stats to consider, your best strategy will always be the same: lure the enemies in an ambush and kill them, one by one. That’s it!
In addition, I noticed that the battlefields offer very poor interactivity and there are also some problems with the line of sight.
Instead, one thing I liked very much is the looting system. After you win a battle you can loot everything your enemies had equipped, essentially the dream of every RPG fan that comes true!
“Anthem of the peaceful army”
Nothing particular to report here.
The sound and the music of the game just do their job, without any particular mention.
“Just an Illusion”
What about the graphic?
Again, the game made great promises also in this field and the use of the Unreal Engine 4 created, for sure, great expectations. Unfortunately, there is nothing really memorable here.
The battlefields often look blur, poor and little detailed and the characters are not better.
Not only they have very little details, but you are often forced to use the zoom function in order to distinguish what kind of unit you are using. To make matters worse, sometimes it is possible to notice a strange aliasing effect even if you turn on the antialiasing option from the menu.
Furthermore, the animations are quite simple with no variations at all and, above all, there isn’t convincing feedback when you hit the enemy. This is a pity because games with a far more simplistic graphic (who said Battle Brothers?!) has taught how important is this aspect if you really want to give the idea of a “brutal hit”.
On the contrary, the “cut-scenes”, with their comic art style, are quite evocative and beautiful to watch.
THE FINAL THOUGHTS
The game is very ambitious and promises great things, but fails to execute them properly. It is not a bad game and it’s clear the developers put a lot of passion in it, but it is simply too clunky to result in a funny game. Better luck next time!