STAFF REVIEW of Forbidden Arts, The (Xbox One)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019.
by Kirsten Naughton

Forbidden Arts, The Box art It's very rare that I get overly enthusiastic while watching a videogame trailer. I watched the trailer for The Forbidden Arts, as I always do with any game I am considering to review (unless I'm familiar with the series or developer). The trailer looked fantastic and the music fitting for the environment I saw. The graphics appeared phenomenal, and from watching the trailer, I was so excited that I demanded I get The Forbidden Arts, but I got a little too enthusiastic before I even launched the game for the first time.

Forbidden Arts is an action adventure platformer made by indie developer Stingbot Games. When I launched The Forbidden Arts for the first time, the first thing that came to my mind was that its visual style was like a game from the original Playstation era, but with a polished look. Almost like it's an old school game from 10 years ago that got remastered for current gen. That's the probably best way I can describe the artistic style. Long story short, it's beautiful. The music is also fitting for the type of game The Forbidden Arts is. It's pleasant to listen to and not too annoying that it drives you crazy after a few hours of gameplay.

You play as Pheonix through your time with The Forbidden Arts. Through your journey with him, you'll talk with towns folk, kill spiders, witches, bears, wolves and more with your blade, and also Phoenix's newest elemental power, fire, that you'll receive shortly after completing your first quest. You'll go up and down ladders, climb vines and dodge spikes. While travelling between locations, there's also a small 'open world' concept to the navigating. I really like that the overall world that Phoenix is straightforward and simple, though some might see it as too linear.

With an old school way of game development in mind, combat I feel unfortunately isn't much to experience. You press a button or two and repeat until your enemy is defeated or you die. Video games fifteen years ago didn't have all the sharp, beautiful graphic touches and technology that current generation video games have today, which is fine, as I'm more than happy to acknowledge that this may have just been the way Stingbot Games wanted for The Forbidden Arts, possibly as a homage. I personally like combat to be more of a challenge, something I feel a sense of accomplishment when I defeat an enemy. If you like the old school ways of games back fifteen years ago, then you will LOVE The Forbidden Arts. It'll be like a blast from the past with a new coat of polish on it.

While playing, you'll have a mini map on your top right, showing you where you're going. One thing I found out quickly about The Forbidden Arts was that the more you discover and explore the areas you're in, the more you'll find and uncover. I find I like these types of games best because it makes me want to play more and more. You'll find these gold blocks and gold coins on your paths, but I never found out why you needed them, but it was rewarding to have items to collect.

As a gamer who is constantly trying new games that are out of her comfort zone, it's important that a tutorial shows me the ropes of the video game I'm playing. The Forbidden Arts gives you a short tutorial of the basic controls which are very straightforward and easy to understand. However, while encountering your first quest defeating the Griffith and retrieving its feather, I found that The Forbidden Arts didn't really give you a tutorial on how to defeat bigger enemies.

For the next hour or so, I jumped off the platform and tried everything I could think of to defeat the Griffith. I was frustrated. I took a break for a few hours and when I found out what the solution was, I wasn't all that impressed. I don't expect to have my hand held through gameplay, but I do expect some form of walk through in the first ten minutes while I'm still learning what I'm doing. Especially if that's what most of the game is going to entail.

The main story I did find to be all that interesting. It is by no means a bad story, but I definitely wasn't as engaged as I wanted to be. It's a typical trope where there's a bad guy and eventually you're going to run into him and you'll need to defeat him type of a story. I feel like a part of the reason I wasn't so engaged with the story was that you had spoken character dialogue and then other times when you were talking to a character but having to read instead. This is not at all a deal breaker for me, but the inconsistency stood out.

It's very rare when I can't get past the first few hours of a video game. I'm no professional gamer by any means, but I take pride in doing the best I can with what I am given. As per my gaming style, The Forbidden Arts is not my type of game, as I didn't mesh well with the combat and the overall gameplay experience. However, with all my experiences aside, those whose game style this matches should have a phenomenal time with it. I fell in love with the visuals, music and the overall concept of The Forbidden Arts; that's what drew me into it in the first place. With that being said, I don't forbid you from trying The Forbidden Arts out for yourself. This one was just not my cup of tea.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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