You think you’ve had a bad day? Imagine waking up and finding out that your whole identity has been revoked. What would you do?
SORRY, WE’RE FORECLOSED!
That’s pretty much the situation Evan Kapnos has found himself in. He wakes up to the news that his employer has closed down, and his identity has been taken away pending auction. On his way to resolve the issue at the courts, our protagonist gets ambushed but is saved by a mysterious woman. So begins a story about dodgy tech, shady government and business dealings, and some questionable ethical practices. It may not be the most revolutionary plot in the Cyberpunk genre, but it hits the tropes well and tells a pretty engaging story throughout.
Whilst the story might not offer anything revolutionary, the game shines in its presentation. Following the likes of XIII (not the remake), or even the recent Void Bastards, the whole game exudes comic book charm – from the bright cel shaded visuals, to the comic strip panels it uses for both cutscenes and in-game action. It’s all done remarkably and feels like a living comic. Whilst the fixed camera changes in the comic book panel sequences can lead to some occasional orientation, it’s never enough to cause a problem.
Accompanying the visuals, the games boasts an impressive electronic soundtrack that fits the action perfectly. Unfortunately the same level of quality isn’t present in the voice acting. Most of it is acceptable, but the main character is horrendously bad. Given the frequency he talks, it’ll either annoy you or just make you laugh. What is irritating is that during some conversations (ones where you need to choose your dialogue), the protagonist is completely silent. The other person still talks, so it leaves the conversations feeling rather stilted and just plain weird. I’m not sure why they didn’t record the additional dialogue, as it makes the game seem quite cheap and unpolished.
FOREWARNED IS FORECLOSED
Whilst the game focuses on the story, this is very much an action game. Early on you’ll gain access to a gun, which signals the start of the action – something that rarely lets up until you reach the final confrontation. This is also where the main issue with the game comes in as the combat is just plain bad. You get a single gun, which has two fire modes (fast and weak, or slow and a bit stronger) along with some equippable upgrades that you can purchase using the XP gained through combat. The gun itself doesn’t feel very impactful, with many enemies taking a lot of shots to take down, and the upgrades range from essential to useless. The ability to penetrate shields and armour, for example, is a must since later on almost every enemy sports one or both of these. Aside from those, the rest don’t really seem to do anything: explosive shots was my first purchase, and it had zero effect. It’s hard to tell whether or not it’s broken or just plain crap.
In addition to your gun, you also have some abilities at your disposal to help spice things up. Think Mass Effect, but if the abilities were way more underwhelming and barely functional. Aside from the ability that suspends enemies in the air, and one that slams them down to the ground, the rest are pretty much useless. There’s one that looks cool where you generate an energy ball that drains health from enemies that are within its radius, but it’s so badly implemented that it does effectively nothing. Later on, thankfully, you gain the ability to use telekinesis (unlocked through story progression) and this does provide some additional fun to the proceedings – but unfortunately interactable objects are pretty limited. Using any ability or firing your gun will result in the heating up of your brain chip, so you have to be careful not to go too overboard. Not too difficult early on when there are only a few enemies, but later the game really likes to swarm you with baddies and it can be a real challenge to get through without dying. Better hope that your checkpoint was close behind, and not far away with a lengthy cutscene in between – which the game really loves to do.
Stealth is also an option with some encounters, allowing you to take enemies down from behind by frying their brain chip. It’s a neat little gimmick that I never tired of, but you rarely get much opportunity to approach combat encounters stealthily. Instead, it’s usually saved for set encounters – particularly sections involving drones or turrets. It’s not the most complex stealth system in the world, but they tend to be quite short and offer a fun distraction from the dull combat. Usually these encounters will see you hacking the turrets, or finding and hacking power sources to open a gate in order to proceed. The hacking system is quite basic, normally requiring you to input a combination of buttons, but they fit into the game world quite seamlessly. Like the stealth, it’s never very difficult but is a welcome change of pace that also fits in well with the overall narrative. Near the end of the game, a more complex hacking gimmick is introduced and it’s annoyingly fiddly. You need to create a wavelength that matches the one on your device, but it never really seems to fit. Thankfully failure results in the game adjusting your wave, meaning you can just bruteforce your way through.
FORE FECKS’ SAKE
Unfortunately, combat is not the only problem the game has. Over the course of my playthrough (short of three hours), I had the game glitch out on four separate occasions, requiring me to quit to the menu and load the last save – on one of these occasions, the problem worsened each time causing me to close the game completely and re-enter it, which thankfully resolved the issue. To make matters worse, the game occasionally has some pretty poor signposting that can leave you wondering if the game broke again or whether it’s just unclear where to go. One such moment happened right after that major issue I mentioned before. The game informed me that I needed to enter a vehicle that seemed inaccessible from the small area I was in. What it actually wanted me to do was backtrack through the door that I’d just come from and back into the vent to access a new area. Moving the waypoint to the vent first would have made things far less annoying, as I was confident the game had broken on me again and I was on the verge of quitting and starting the whole game over.
All these little things mar what could have been a great little indie title. It can be salvaged by a good patch that improves the combat and fixes the bugs, but it’d have to be a meaty one. Thankfully the game does offer a Story difficulty, which nerfs the combat difficulty a fair bit. It’s still not quite enough to make combat a non-issue, but it’s certainly an improvement. In the absence of a patch, I would wholeheartedly recommend this mode to anyone that wants to experience the story whilst minimising the frustration caused by the dreadful combat. It is still a nice little story in a beautifully presented package, so it’s something to bear in mind.
I came away from Foreclosed feeling a little let down by it. It starts out promisingly, but swaps out the narrative cyberpunk tale that includes hacking and stealth to a game that’s just constant tedious combat encounters. It’s still a gorgeous looking game despite its faults, and offers an intriguing tale, so if it’s of interest to you then perhaps opt for the Story difficulty – or wait for a damn good patch to come along.