Arm your gunchucks, holster your shotguns and prepare to side scroll into dangerous territory as the first Arbiter.
- Developer: Big Blue Bubble
- Publisher: Big Blue Bubble
- Release Date: 27th February 2020
- Genre: 2D action-platformer
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows (Steam)
- Reviewed on: Windows PC
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
In Foregone, you play as a nameless soldier called “The First Arbiter”. Created to protect a city, but ultimately falling short (as shown through some great environmental story-telling), it’s your mission to stop the calamity before it has time to destroy the city you are sworn to protect.
The gameplay is very action focussed, which suits this style of game. I found that if it was too puzzle heavy or storyline/narrative-focused I would have lost interest. With the levels being as linear as they are and few secrets to discover it works well to draw you into the action. With enemies lining every corner of each level you need to have a trigger-happy player controlling the Arbiter, reflexes at the ready and gunchucks drawn from the moment you step out of the teleporter.
The game provides a ranged weapon and a melee weapon to dispatch of the enemies that you come across. The ranged weapons can range from quick shooting pistols to damage heavy shotguns, while the melee weapons give you an amazing option called GUNCHUCKS. Yes, you heard right, nunchucks, but with guns. These were my go-to for the melee weapon, with bow and arrows being my main choice for ranged. But there were other options available, with each weapon having its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, the gunchucks have a serious delay between attacks, which allows enemies a window to attack the Arbiter. I will admit, it took me a few deaths to master the art of them.
One issue I found with the ranged weapons was that I was unable to select which enemy to shoot at, with the Arbiter just auto-aiming at the nearest enemy and shooting. With each ranged weapon also running out of ammo sooner than expected, it soon became clear that the developers didn’t want me relying on my ability to shoot things at a distance. I needed to get up close and personal if I wanted to dispatch these enemies.
Killing enemies rewards you with ammo for your ranged weapon along with gold, health and crystals. When back at your hub you have the option to upgrade any of your weapons and equipment (armour, health items etc). Spending gold allows this, you can gather this resource through scrapping other weapons that you no longer need. Each weapon is colour coded to show how powerful it is and how many times you can upgrade them to better their damage/efficiency. This is also the case with armour and trinkets. In the hub, you can also upgrade your abilities and unlock new ones. Better damage, healing over time and explosion damage are all on the table with this game. Foregone caters to different play styles throughout this skill tree. You do need to select what to upgrade and then “confirm” that you want to upgrade before leaving the screen. The amount of times I would select all the upgrades and leave without confirming, it wasted a lot of time going back and forth.
You can get back to your hub through teleports found at the start of every section, with some teleports found halfway through. This system is easy enough to learn and you can use it throughout the game. When the Arbiter dies, this is when the teleports come in hand. When your health reaches 0 the Arbiter transports back to the hub and loses all the gold and crystals you have gathered in that level. At this point, you can choose; Be transported back to where you died but lose half of the gold and crystals you gathered up to that point or use a teleporter to go to the beginning of the level and make your way back to your gold and crystals with all enemies respawned.
Each time I died I chose to work my way back from the beginning of the level. With the enemies respawning, I gathered more gold and crystals, picked up my dead loot and continued. Each time I tried again I learnt something new, whether it was how a certain enemy was best defeated or how to use a new ability. Sometimes I would find secret passages in the levels which would give me more gold or crystals, or in certain cases, a new ability to add to my skill tree!
Alongside the weapons, the Arbiter can dodge and parry attacks, which comes in handy when you’re up against many enemies at once. These enemies don’t follow the usual game protocol of attacking you one at a time. You will have to deal with an onslaught of attacks coming from every angle.
The main thing I noticed about the enemies in the game is the recycling of the “non-boss” enemies in later levels. This was great for me as I’d learned how to fight these enemies. I ploughed through them no issue when they had been colour inverted and made a bit tougher in later levels.
Talking about enemies, the saving grace of this game is the boss fights. With each boss beautifully detailed and with its own attack style. My favourite boss is a flying enemy called Project Hera. The winged beast is so brightly coloured and beautifully animated that I may have died one too many times, as all I wanted to do was sit and watch it. Throughout the game the boss’s difficulty increases, causing you to level up your own skills as well as the Arbiter’s. Although the introduction of the first boss fight was a little sudden. I went through a seemingly innocent-looking door and the door locked behind me. Suddenly, I was in a room with a blade-wielding robot. The boss fight wasn’t too hard, but it would’ve helped if there were some indication that a boss fight was coming.
The best thing about Foregone is the visual aesthetic. Background environments have a strong feel of dystopian future mixed with destroyed machinery. The darker backgrounds use a palette of murky greys, browns and rusted reds, which usually I wouldn’t enjoy, but, the foreground elements like enemies and interactable objects are so brightly coloured that they almost pop out of the screen. You can tell that someone put all their love and attention into the sprites of the game.
Foregone is a game that grabs you from the first moment you enter the dystopian world as the Arbiter. Are there a few issues that could make the game better? Yes. But do these issues make the game unenjoyable? No. This game stands out in a world of 2D side scrollers. Foregone isn’t going anywhere.