- Developer: Big Blue Bubble
- Publisher: Big Blue Bubble
- Release Date: 13/10/2020
- Price: £26.99 / $29.99
- Review code provided by Big Blue Bubble
Introducing Foregone Switch Review
It seems there’s a big comparison people love to make when talking about Foregone, judging by comments on trailers and reviews of the PC version – that it’s like Dead Cells. However, I for one, have never actually played that, so I have no idea how relevant such comparisons are. (Especially considering this game is not even procedurally generated.) But, I feel there’s value to be had in having a completely fresh perspective. So, is Foregone a game that stands on its own two feet? Or are those comparisons justified?
Gone But Not Forgotten
I knew from the moment I finished the game that talking about its story would be tricky. It’s not particularly complex – it’s just that all of the interesting turns and twists happen towards the end. When I started out, I’ll admit I had zero interest in what was happening.
The gist is that in a town called Calagan, a mysterious force known as the Harrow has begun corrupting things. You are a super-soldier who’s been tasked with finding and destroying the route cause of it. So yeah, nothing exactly groundbreaking. While I won’t spoil what happens, I will say the origins of both the Harrow and Calagan are very interesting, and the game presents a pretty heavy theme.
The problem is, it doesn’t really say much about said theme beyond just “it is bad”. I still liked the story though, and I’m glad it got more interesting as things went on. But as with the previous games I’ve reviewed, the gameplay was my driving force to keep playing, not the story.
A Corrupting Force
Foregone is an action-platformer, though I use that platformer moniker lightly. The platforming is very much not the focus, and what is there isn’t challenging in the slightest. No, the real focus is the combat and the loot. You wield both swords and guns, but those terms might be a bit generic… One of the weapons being “gunchucks” (literally nunchucks except the ends are guns) kind of makes things hard to generalise.
Throughout the game you are constantly getting new and stronger loot. You can then salvage/destroy your older gear back at the outpost, wherein you can also upgrade your character. All loot has passive abilities which can supplement your upgrades. For instance, in my playthrough, I focused mainly on having a constant stream of health so I could always get in there and fight.
So, I gave myself two defensive abilities, a bunch of upgrades that allowed me to leech health, and weapons that would improve my chance of giving leech. But, let’s back up a bit here, and talk about how you actually fight. First off, you get to choose two of the aforementioned abilities that you can activate any time in combat, but recharge whenever you deal damage.
These abilities range from healing yourself, to giving yourself an AOE attack, etc. Apart from that, you have your weapons, which all have only one combo and one air attack each, and your guns, which get one ammo every time you land one hit. On that note, you also get money and health from killing enemies. Now you might be thinking, one combo for each weapon sounds pretty limited – but the focus isn’t on constantly juggling enemies, the focus is on playing super aggressively while avoiding their attacks.
At the start of the game you are given a simple slide, but you get more moves such as an air dash, a ground stomp, etc. This, combined with how everything is geared towards always attacking and never running away, leads to the combat actually being really frenetic yet fun. Though if I have to leverage a criticism, it’s that there’s not exactly a ton of variety. There are just five different weapons and four different guns, and the other loot (such as armor and accessories) don’t do much beyond more defense.
The way I played involved always upgrading my weapons and trading it in the moment I got a higher level one. (When you salvage something you get half the money you spent on it, so it’s not a bad deal). All weapons have a power level and display their DPS, so if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty to ensure you’re dealing the most amount of damage possible, this game affords that. But, even though this lead to me constantly changing weapons, my strategy didn’t evolve much from the beginning.
The Fast and the Frenetic
This is combined with, in short, pretty bland level design. The platforming mostly consists of floating platforms and a couple of obstacles towards the end. And the enemy placement is designed in such a way that combat feels like it’s done in bite-sized chunks – as in, every room has a set of enemies, and after you deal with that set, it’s onto the next room.
But that’s just be being critical, as despite those issues, I still had fun from beginning to end. The boss fights are also pretty fun once you nail down their pattern, it’s just a shame that a couple get reused towards the end. When it comes to difficulty, this isn’t exactly the hardest game around. I only died six times – thrice in one level (was it a difficulty spike or did I just suck?), and thrice in the final boss (there is one attack which took me forever to figure out how to dodge…)
When you do die, there’s a system where you can either choose to instantly get half of the money you lost, or you can physically go and get it to get it all back (or lose it all if you die again). Though, running past enemies is surprisingly easy, and checkpoints are never more than several minutes apart when sprinting ahead, so it’s almost always better to go and get it. Thankfully, there is a fast travel system, meaning revisiting areas with new abilities to find more secrets is also an option.
A Bit of a Technical Mess
When it comes to the presentation, this game is a beauty. It’s filled to the brim with luscious backgrounds and detailed animations. It truly is pixel art done right. The music on the other hand, while decent enough, did not leave much of an impression. The same goes for the voice acting, but much like with the story, there isn’t much of it until towards the end, so again, I’m indifferent to it. The real problem with the presentation though, is the technical side of things, unfortunately.
The game runs with an unlocked framerate and unfortunately almost never hits 60fps. Due to how stuttery it is I wish they had included a way to cap it as it does feel rather sluggish. But that’s not even the biggest issue. At around the halfway point, my game started frequently going to around the 20fps mark (this was judging by eye of course, but it was baaad.) It made combat feel miserable. Then suddenly, during a loading screen, the game crashed.
This only happened once so the crash in itself wasn’t the issue (the game saves before loading), but when the game rebooted, it was running much better than before. So yes, it turns out leaving the game on for a while actually affects performance. I have not once experienced this with any other Switch game, so it’s honestly quite baffling and I hope the developers can fix it in a patch, but bear in mind if you do decide to dip in, maybe quit out of the game once you’re done for the day.
A Foregone Conclusion?
All told then, Foregone is far from a perfect game. A lack of variety with both the loot and combat, a pretty forgiving difficulty curve, and framerate issues on Switch. But it says a lot then that I feel the combat managed to make things shine despite all that. It always felt great to enter a room and just destroy everything that was moving in just a few seconds. Maybe the comparisons people have drawn about this game are apt. But from my perspective, this game is well and truly its own thing.
- Luscious pixel art
- Fast-paced and aggressive combat
- Fun bosses
- Very inconsistent framerate
- Not much challenge
- Weapons and loot lack variety
Foregone is greater than the sum of its parts; while it has its issues, its combat manages to make it shine regardless