Forced has a title that is ripe for punning as well as various levels of socially acceptable jokes. ‘Forced’ is something that is imposed by coercion or physical force…
Thrown you off the scent yet? Forced is perhaps one of the most surprising games I have had the pleasure of playing this year; never has a hack and slasher felt so absorbing and it deserves as much support and gamers as it can get. It’s very rare to be so effusive with praise when the genre can essentially boil down to being very basic; repeatedly hit certain button until enemy dead, repeat rinse until bored/carpal tunnel syndrome kicks in.
You are one of the chosen ones from a clan that fights hoards of evil to impress the Gods enough to ensure that you and your people don’t get completely wiped out. The storyline is basic and is just something for the action to hang on too. Despite the fact that the ‘big bads’ tend to be obscenely stereotypical, and the hero you play has as much personality as the brown pants you first see him wearing, the whole experience is charming thanks to your spirit companion whom offers up a huge chunk of tongue in cheek humour.
He never becomes a Navi (a pain in the backside), is always on hand to give you a push in the right direction and has brilliant voice work that adds a injection of humour that feels just right. He is also integral to the game mechanics itself. Combining him with various areas in the environment allows him to move switches, destroy spawn areas, produce a ring of health for your character to temporarily bask in and even turn into an explosive bomb. This allows a level of strategy into the game as you can combine his attacks with yours to ensure maximum damage to the myriad of enemies you face.
The concept of the game is simple; continue to traverse through gladiator arenas until you reach the end. Each level has three separate stones that have requirements. The basic ones fall down to finishing the level outright or finishing within a certain time limit; others are much more based on how you kill your enemies bringing in a decent amount of replay value. The stones allow you to unlock abilities for each of the four sets of weapons. The best part is that you are never tied down to one class. Fancy firing arrows at your heart’s content? Choose the archer. Bored of stabbing bad guys with two swords? Use a massive hammer or a Captain America style shield instead. The game is very much tailored to how you want to play at a drop of a hat and any upgrades are transferable at any time, allowing you to fit your hero into a strategy that works best for the level and your playing style.
Graphics are quaint and a bit rough around the edges. The character and enemies models are bright and vibrant and the environments varied. The classes themselves look fantastic and wouldn’t look out of place in a Bioware title. Environments on the other end tend to be choppy and a bit basic at times but this thankfully never distracts you from the bursts of colour coming from the visually impressive abilities when they are being shown off.
There is also no need to play alone as you can join up with three other players to take the fight to the enemy, with each added player scaling the difficulty up to provide a more difficult challenge on any of the levels that you face, with an added challenge mode if you happen to get bored of the campaign. Forced really shines here as your success lives and dies by the cooperative nature of your team mates, especially as your spirit companion does not get multiplied by the amount of players you are with; keeping track of him at all times is vital to completing some of the more puzzle orientated arenas.
Forced carries on its innovation in the combat system. Attacking enemies produces a bar over the top of their heads; the more hits the further the bar goes up which means the more damage you, your teammates, and your special abilities can do at any one time. Working together to annihilate one boss with all of your specials at once is hugely satisfying.
To sum up
Forced is special. It’s a tongue in cheek adventure that deserves recognition and despite some of its production limitations, puts AAA titles to shame. Its brilliant mechanics and gameplay make it a must buy and well worth the huge investment of time you will inevitably put into it.
Version reviewed: PC