By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
Forced is a new upcoming co-op game that can be played alone or together with 3 other friends. This tactical arcade action game offers something different than just the RPG elements we have seen in many other online RPGs. In Forced you will also have to use puzzle elements in your arena to gain the advantage on your opponents. While facing scary monsters, strong bosses and other deadly trials, you and your guardian will have to complete many challenges to earn your freedom. Together with your spirit mentor, you will have to face these strong creatures and solve the puzzles to go further than anyone has ever been forced to before!
You are made for this, born for this, enslaved for this. You are a gladiator, one that has to earn its freedom, where no one succeeded. You will have to, or face death and be seen as a weakling, one of the many that has fallen. Play one of the four available classes, and hack and slash your way to the many challenges you will have to face in order to be called champion. These classes however aren’t really classes that are bound to your character. Rather you should see them as weapon kits. You can choose whatever you want to roll with before you head into the challenge or arena, and if you fail said challenge you are free to change to a different weapon kit and try your best with that. Currently the four weapon kits are two daggers (ideal for fast and flashy melee dps), the bow (specialized in crippling and blasting foes from a safe distance), a hammer (for those that prefer power over speed), and a shield (that not only defends but can be thrown like a Frisbee to pull off some neat tricks). As you level up you will gain more and more skills automatically for each weapon kit, and thus you can really play around with the type of skills you want to be using. You can build and play each class with your own personal flair. And sometimes a challenge is easier to do with a bow, than with only a sword, and the game really lets you play around with the many possibilities to survive the gauntlet each level throws at you.
In the first five challenges you will learn to play around with your spirit mentor. This spirit mentor is basically your guide; he will help you throughout the game with the many challenges you will face. He is your only friend and plenty more useful than that nagging Navi from Zelda so treat and use him well. In every arena you can use your spirit mentor to fly over things, to either complete an objective, or to get some extra help like healing or a shockblast to keep your enemies away. They are also used for completing spirit guide specific puzzles, ones that are not as easy as they first appear. Your guide can only fly towards you or your ally on command, so players will have to position themselves and time movement properly, all the while enemy monsters will be eating your toes and fingers. I personally am a big fan of the keyboard when playing action RPGs, but in Forced you can also hook up your controller and use it. I have tested both, and I must say both of these work extremely well. The simplicity of your actions are ideal for controllers. Each challenge also has a timer and a special bonus objective. Completing the challenge before the timer and doing the special objective will give you more rewards, but these extra objectives are no joke, and are seriously hard to do so. Even in the earlier missions I had trouble doing them. I highly suggest grabbing a friend or three if you want to have a chance at completing them later on.
Each challenge has a surprise for you, and that is not meant in a good way. Every boss, monster or challenge you face will have only one objective, to kill you. But Forced isn’t really about you getting killed, it is about you staying calm. Every attack can be dodged, and if done well you can complete all the challenges without ever getting hit. This however sounds easier than it is, and with the many challenges you will have to face, you will have to be lucky to pass through any of them on the first try. Everything is out there to kill you, including the map or arena itself, and thus it is your job to anticipate everything, and expect the worse because you will get your ass kicked in this game, that is fact you can be sure of.
A key component to know about when playing alone and especially when playing with friends is the mark system. Every attack against an enemy gives them one mark. You can use your spells when you have a mark on an enemy, and you can give the enemy a total of 5 marks. As you might have guessed, every mark adds bonus damage, so you want to have as many marks on the enemies before you cast your spells. With some classes you can even refresh your cooldowns with these marks, and thus it is very important to use them wisely. In essence it works similar to a mana system that is balanced across your entire team, requiring focused teamwork and coordination to make the best use of it.
Current Verdict: Excellent
Forced brings back the puzzle action games where you will have to think twice before you actually act. The huge variety of puzzles that are available on each challenge make you wish your brain was a bit more agile and reactive. When the monsters spawn, and the time is running you better have thought of a plan to dispatch them the most efficiently, or you will be in big trouble when the monsters are chewing on you. Staying calm under pressure is your best asset, and one this game will train you to improve through frustrating losses. Granted that’s hard to do when your cocky spirit guide is telling you to focus all the time. Every attack can be dodged, every monster can be killed and every puzzle can be done, even if it’s not obvious the first time through. This is the first game I’ve reviewed for OnRPG in quite a while where I will recommend playing with friends not for the firepower they bring, but just for the value a second line of thought can bring to solve a puzzle before you can figure it out. Your buddy blowing up a hoard of orcs with a spirit guide bomb might just save your life.
If you’re game, grab early access on Steam now and start training your team for the upcoming tournament on the 11th!