Foregone Review: A MetroidDeadCellVania Done Right
Like us, you might have missed Foregone when it originally released as an Epic Game Store exclusive on PC and digitally on consoles last year. Now it's finally out on Steam, so it seems like a perfect excuse to introduce the game to everyone who missed it.
Foregone is a retro-styled 2D platformer adventure very much following the well-trod path of Metroid and its ilk, but with some hefty inspiration from Dead Cells. The result is a game that offers some of the randomness of Motion Twin's roguelike, without the constant fear of permadeath and randomly spawned levels.
Foregone has a set world and is very centered on exploring and getting to know the map layouts. For those who wanted to love Dead Cells for its style and atmosphere but ended up hating the actual rogue-like elements, Foregone feels just about perfect.
Foregone Review: A MetroidDeadCellVania Done Right
The game tasks players as the Arbiter, a genetically modified supersoldier made to fight a war against powerful monsters and well-armed enemies, called the Harrow. The story itself is fairly interesting, if convoluted, but only comes up occasionally. The focus here is thoroughly on exploration and combat.
For the most part, Foregone sticks to the familiar template of other similar games. You start off weak with minimal abilities and weapons, and you earn more power by discovering artifacts, killing enemies, and exploring. So, new powers like wall jump, ground pound, regeneration, shields, and other useful upgrades are spread regularly over the world.
Through the game, you’ll investigate burned-out towns, deep caverns, enormous temples, nefarious labs, forests, and military bases. There’s a hub zone you can return to via teleporters found in each zone as well. This outpost lets you upgrade the Arbiter’s abilities via her skill tree and upgrade and sell weapons and items collected from fallen enemies, chests, and hidden rooms.
The weapons system is where the roguelike elements come into play. There are six melee and five ranged weapon types to collect, but each upgradeable type can be found with a vast array of different power levels and special abilities. On the melee side, there’s the short and falchion sword, warscythe, spear, dual daggers, and weird explosive gunchucks.
Each melee weapon has distinct strengths and shortcomings. The short sword and daggers are fast, but have poor range, while the falchion and scythe are more cumbersome and slow, but devastating at a greater distance.
On the gun side, there’s the burst machine gun, shotgun, pistol, shock rifle, and bow. Again, each handles a bit differently, and finding the combination that works best for you is a large part of the fun.
You’ll acquire new versions of these weapons constantly, and each has between one and five upgrade slots, as well as a power and damage level. Most of them also have special perks like increasing attack speed, additional critical strike damage, the ability to poison or tether an enemy temporarily, and many other variations.
Weapons can be upgraded by the outpost’s blacksmith if you have the gold, and he’ll buy any excess weapons you don't need. Since you’ll find better weapons the further along you get, changing out weapons, upgrading new ones, and selling old ones is a frequent activity.
There are optional side missions available at the outpost, too, which are made available by unlocking communication towers in the world. These missions are challenging timed affairs that usually require you to kill a specific number of enemies or run an obstacle course within a short period of time.
Aside from earning more gold and upgrade points upon completing a side mission, you’ll also be able to access a special blacksmith. This fellow can alter the special abilities of any weapon, which adds further variation to an already deep customization system.
Foregone offers three difficulty levels on top of all of this, but on the recommended normal level, the game is refreshingly manageable. It does a great job of making the player feel like the most powerful being around (for the most part), without making her absurdly overpowered in the process. If you prefer a more Souls-like experience, there are two harder modes and a New Game+ mode after finishing that jacks up the difficulty as well.
While aiming for 16-bit-like visuals, it’s hard not to be impressed by the detail and visual finesse of Foregone. The animation is superb, the enemy design consistently clever and interesting, and the backdrops and lighting look fantastic.
The only complaint is the questionable design of the lead character. The Arbiter is supposedly a nearly unstoppable warrior, yet still runs around with a bare midriff and barely contained pixelated cleavage. Even when she gets actual armor, it’s really just covering her chest. It’s especially bizarre because nothing else in the game suffers from such questionable design.
Foregone Review — The Bottom Line
- Looks and sounds great, with terrific world design
- Excellent combat and platforming, with plenty of variety
- Incredibly in-depth weapons and skills customization
- Main character design is cringy
- Might be too easy for lovers of the super hard
An open platformer heavy on combat, upgrading, and exploration, Foregone is an involving and entertaining adventure well worth downloading.
[Note: Big Blue Bubble provided the copy of Foregone used for this review.]