The world of Action Role-playing Games has become incredibly saturated this year, and now developer BetaDwarf is taking their stab at it with FORCED. BetaDwarf has been the the talk of the internet, ever since their kickstarter campaign for FORCED so needless to say that this little indie game has had a lot of hype behind it. Does BetaDwarf’s debut title swim above the sea of generic ARPGs, or does it sink down into the muck?
Audio and Video
Immediately, the thing that sets FORCED aside from other titles in the genre is it’s art design. Compared to it’s brethren, FORCED is more cartoony and light hearted. Most ARPGs are dark and gritty with only a select few attempting to break the mold. FORCED is one of those games, and it definitely deserves a special mention because of it.
Sound wise, FORCED is no different than any other ARPG. The game is filled with generic clings and clangs; and generic grunts and roars. The sound effects are varied enough so that they don’t get old, but there isn’t anything that sets that makes this game stand out. The voice acting is also mediocre. The acting is a bit iffy at time. Often it’s hard to tell if the narrator is being sarcastically bored, or is intentionally droning on. Ultimately though, the voice acting gets its job done.
Gameplay and Controls
FORCED control scheme is very different than most ARPGs. Instead of being the standard point and click control, the game opts for a more dual stick style control scheme. The WASD keys control movement, and the mouse controls the character’s direction. This definitely gives the player a bit more control over their character, but it makes combat feel a bit more sluggish and loose. Unfortunately, that is the biggest issue that FORCED has going against it. The controls feel very loose and at times unresponsive, which is a huge issue in an ARPG.
The gameplay is where FORCED tries to carve itself a niche within the ARPG genre, and it manages to just barely chip out a small crack. Blending puzzles with ARPG gameplay, FORCED tries to be less mindless and loot-centric than it’s competition, and here it definitely does succeed. While the combat is not riveting, the puzzling aspect does a great job at breaking it up and adding a bit of diversity to the game. While FORCED isn’t going to reinvent the genre with its gameplay, it is going set itself apart from other ARPGs, even just barely.
Longevity and Multiplayer
Unfortunately, puzzle games have a problem with replayability. Once the solution to a puzzle is found, it’s often very replicable. Luckily, FORCED does have another reason to replay the game. That reason is the “class” system. At the start of each level, the player gets to choose one of four weapon types and will use that throughout the level. Ultimately this means that each level may be played four times to receive a new experience.
The multiplayer aspect of FORCED is something that the developers have been hyping up for the longest time, and in this aspect they deliver…sort of. The multiplayer is a lot of fun, and it’s great to play with a few friends. However for the more casual player looking to play with strangers online, it’s a borderline nightmare. The game get’s very hectic very quickly, and without adequate communication it devolves into chaos.
Ultimately, FORCED feels somewhat…forced. A lot of its issues could have easily been remedied given a few more months of production time. At its core, FORCED is a very fun game with many quirks and flaws that chip away at it. For a small studio’s first game, it definitely succeeds; however more hardcore players are going to quickly move on from it.