Foreclosed Review: Cyberflunk
As we inch closer to our own real-life metaverse, the cyberpunk genre is making quite a resurgence as of late. It seems the dystopian problems of always-online cybernetics and invasive advertising feel close to home for a population unstoppably moving in that direction.
I love a good cyberpunk setting, and Foreclosed does deliver that, but its merits just about end there. With serious flaws affecting its story and gameplay alike, Foreclosed is a brief game that still manages to wear out its welcome.
There are hints of something very cool here, but they're let down by faulty mechanics, poor design, and awkward voicework.
Foreclosed Review: Cyberflunk
Foreclosed caught my eye on account of its impressive comic book delivery. While plenty of games are cel-shaded to look like a comic, Foreclosed goes all in with this presentation style.
The bulk of the game takes place in third-person and over the shoulder, but routinely the camera swaps to other viewpoints, such as top-down, isometric, and first-person, breaking out into panels and captioning scenes with dialogue boxes akin to any comic you've seen before.
In this regard, Foreclosed is a success. The world is colorful but still depressing, as any cyberpunk city should be, and the game world thrives on feeling oppressive, where the divide between rich and poor has never been wider. Foreclosed tries to play off of these welcome but familiar genre tropes by delivering a futuristic Max Payne-esque story, but it never hits those marks.
It's a symptom of the game's poor writing and voicework. The main character isreminiscent of a Trey Parker (South Park) parody voice, but he's meant to be taken seriously as he fights to reclaim his identity in a world where individuals are owned by corporations. Suffice it to say, it's hard to do get into the would-be gritty story when he sounds so... off. Making it worse, the secondary characters mostly sound uninterested, with few exceptions.
As the protagonist Evan Kapnos narrates his every move like a neo-noir film, it's often the case that things he says come off quite corny, to be frank. As he attempts to wax poetic about his deranged sci-fi city, some of the lines that come out of his mouth feel like Sin City via the Disney Channel.
If Foreclosed was an adventure game, it would still suffer these problems, but it would've been more tolerable because maybe it would've avoided the game's gunplay mechanics, which are so faulty as to make it almost unplayable at times.
Aiming down your sight feels unwieldy throughout, and no cybernetic upgrades you unlock during the game's brief four-hour story improve on this. Some upgrades, like bullets exploding on impact, seem to provide no effect at all, and shooting down enemies always takes a great number of bullets.
Meanwhile, enemies are both stupid and deadly at once somehow. They don't really move from their positions, and while you can stealth around and take them out silently, if your cover is blown, their incredible aim will put you down in a hurry.
Even standing from cover when there are three or more enemies targeting you can feel like a trap, and Foreclosed becomes a shooting gallery where the targets can fire back with precision and you can't aim very well at all. Putting so much gameplay emphasis on gunplay leads to constant frustration.
Some upgrades like telekinesis and energy shields could've given the game a bit of the flair of Control, but even as I scaled down my expectations for team and project size, these mid-game unlockables never did much to move the needle.
The main collectible grants huge bounties of XP, and because Foreclosed is rather brief, it feels necessary to find them. But as they're hidden within walls and only revealed when you're very close by, you'll spend a few minutes after each gunfight awkwardly running along the perimeter of a location. It hurts pacing in what could've been, with some other changes, a tight, John Wick-like setpiece runway.
Foreclosed Review — The Bottom Line
- Comic book style is very cool
- Faulty shooting mechanics
- Lifeless enemy AI
- Pace-betraying XP hunts
- Very bad voicework
Foreclosed is, simply put, a sometimes broken, always flawed game. I want to see its presentation applied to another project, and perhaps even from this team. It's just, in this state and with these design decisions, I can't recommend Foreclosed for anything other than its comic book look.
While we're in the midst of a cyberpunk revival that may eventually challenge zombies as a most common subgenre, I find there to be many better options for fans of this kind of setting and story.
Foreclosed briefly impresses with its visual flair before a constant barrage of issues that span just about every aspect of the game. It's not buggy, at least, but it still comes off as broken because of some faulty systems and dialogue drenched in adolescent metaphors.
[Note: Merge Games provided the copy of Foreclosed used for this review.]