Forced Review

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Posted June 23, 2014 by Roshan Krishnan in Video Games

Forced does not, as the name suggests, require you to do anything. But this novel game from Beta Dwarf Entertainment is so alluring, you might as well be forced to spend your hours in one of the most enjoyable games with cooperative play.

The game focuses on slaves who are forced(roll credits!) to fight their way to freedom. This might seem banal, but the innovative element of Forced is Balfus, the spirit mentor. Balfus appears as a shining orb who can be summoned at will. What he lacks in armor or weapons, he more than makes up with his various abilities, and occasional humor. Balfus initially appears as an exposition vessel that is simply dead weight, but he quickly turns into a powerful being who forms a great dynamic with the player. Balfus can be passed over various objects, from which he gains certain abilities. For example, if he moves over the healing shrine, he can heal the players around him. Or, if he passes over one of the prevalent explosive shrines, he becomes, not so surprisingly, a moving bomb.

Yeah, Balfus can be used to move stuff. He used to work at FedEx

The players, on the other hand, are asked to choose between four different, intricate classes. These classes can face off against wave after wave of attackers with their attack techniques and special abilities. All classes use a ‘marks’ system, in which each attack places a mark on the opponent it affected. As the number of marks increase, other attacks and abilities can be used for a devastating amount of damage. As the game doesn’t explicitly state the names of these classes, this is probably what I would call them.

From left to right: Well you can probably figure it out

Edward Scissorhands – There was no one else this class could be. This is the class that uses a set of claws/blades as a weapon. The class is fast and furious and racks up the damage and marks on a single target very quickly. The character is extremely useful when needing to get out of a sticky situation. He is quite hard to control, simply because he moves fast and requires more strategic thinking than other classes. He is quite adaptable in many battle situations; even though he doesn’t have instant healing abilities early on, he can just as easily run to a healing shrine and get back up on health. To play as, and to watch this class play, was equally fun.

Official name: Spirit Blades

Patrick Bateman – Although we know him as the popular ‘guy with axe meme’, Patrick Bateman was the first person who popped into my head when I thought about the hammer class. This class is quite heavy on the damage front and excels at dishing out damage to the hordes of creatures that attack. He has a bigger radius of attack, and can apply marks on multiple foes with a single strike. The class also has a few tank-like abilities and is great at keeping friends safe, while making enemies petrified, figuratively and literally. The class is quite fun to play, and can handle many challenges with ease.

If you squint your eyes, you can see him crushing the enemy’s dreams

Oliver Queen – Explosive arrows? Trick electric shots? There is no way that the archer class is anyone other than the Green Arrow. The archer class is, in case you like things spelled out, armed with a bow. The class is reliant on a variety of ranged abilities that make him the sniper of the gladiator arena. The archer was one of my favorite classes to play at first, but he was soon outclassed by the others and their fancier skills. The archer class has some diversity, as he has some healing capabilities, but he only works best when he is away from the action, picking off adversaries, arrow after arrow. The archer struggles in many trials and would be a poor choice.

Where’s the Mirakuru?

Semi-thawed Captain America – Come on guys, you forgot to completely thaw Captain America from that ice! This class is equipped with simply a shield and looks icy in appearance. The frost class is one of the best, and my favorite as he is equipped with powerful skills and is extremely entertaining to handle. The frost class is proficient at healing, and is more than capable of blocking attacks from various creatures. He can even be equipped with offensive skills, if needed. The versatility of this class, makes it one of the best in the game.

There he is!

Quite alien at first, the gameplay takes some time to grow on you. It takes a while to learn to work as a team with Balfus, but once you pass this learning curve, the arena will tremble with the power of the mighty gladiator, who wields the great Balfus.

ALL HAIL BALFUS!

The cooperative  play in the game is quite invigorating. There is strategy and skill involved in many of the trials, as some are more puzzle based than button mashing. I remember realizing after the game, that I was talking to my teammate on four different chat platforms – In game chat, Steam chat, Skype call, and Facebook chat. The worst part? He felt that this was inadequate.

The trials progressively get harder, and so do the opponents. While beating down axe wielding grunts might be easy to do, juggling this task with the destruction of spawning shrines, the activation of plates, and the avoidance of killer mist is challenging. The absence of checkpoints means that trials must be restarted, regardless of progression, if the player dies. The difficulty of the game definitely works against it, but the resoluteness of my team and our insistence to try again and again and again, is a testament to the success of this game.

The cooperative aspect of the game makes it easier, as two strong heroes can stand, side by side, and fend off the attackers. Or, the heroes can focus on different tasks, effectively reducing the workload. But even this tactic sparks new issues, as sometimes, miscommunication or general selfishness can lead to the death of a teammate.

The game does get repetitive after a while, but occasionally switches things up with some trials. For example, after a slew of trials with numerous foes, one trial was simply escaping from poisonous gas, which mostly involved running fast, and not hesitating.

This is why you don’t eat at Taco Bell

The graphics of the game are quite adequate. The game is able to be graphically compelling enough to draw players in,  but not so much that the graphics requirements, in terms of hardware, are massive.

The game is an interesting step away from the trite clones of brawlers and action games. The co-op really makes this a good purchase, and the interesting mix of elements from strategy, puzzle, and action games all work in its favor. While the game is harsh with its difficulty, this only spurs players on. I love this game as a ‘summer game’ which is a game that I play throughout the summer, but then neglect. The game is definitely worth the money, and can be purchased on Steam.

 


About the Author

Roshan Krishnan

Roshan is an avid writer and was recommended by four out of five doctors. He loves watching TV shows, reading as many novels as he can, and generally surfing the internet. He would be a much better writer if he knew how to finish stuf