Here we go, boys and girls. Another action-adventure platformer dabbling at being a rogue-like/lite (whatever the experts are arguing it should be called this week), Foregone is doing its very best to set itself apart from the mountains of other games that are currently riding one of the hot trends at the moment. Battle royale games receive a lot of flak for being uninspired and coasting off the popularity of the genre rather than actually innovating on anything and yet I think it would be unfair to throw shade on circle-closing-deathmatches when the roguelike genre is equally notorious for doing the same thing.
Which is a pity because I really enjoy a well-made roguelike game; when done well they can offer hundreds of hours of fresh and unique experiences yet when they’re done poorly…they’re maybe the most tedious genre out there. Foregone is swimming somewhere in the middle of those two metrics because while it is a very well made game it certainly doesn’t do enough to plant its flag in the roguelike genre and say anything memorable.
Drawing a lot of inspiration from a similar game in the genre, the delightful Dead Cells, Foregone places you in the boots of the first Arbiter, a super-soldier designed to rid the kingdom of Calagan of an evil entity known as the Harrow as it sweeps across the land, reanimating thugs, villains and goons long since passed and directing their destructive talents towards your home. That’s…yeah, that’s the sum total of the narrative basically.
While Foregone certainly presents itself as having plenty of deep lore and world-building etched into the crumbling wastes of the fallen cities you’re traversing, I can’t say the world-building or characters were ever interesting enough to make me sit up in my chair and actually pay attention to the narrative at play. It’s very bare-bones stuff, not really stopping to flesh out many of the details and insisting that the only way to progress through the story is to kill many things. So that’s what you’ll be doing for most of the game which is a blessing because the combat and mechanical character-building are definitely Foregone’s strong suits…for a time.
Your Arbiter will always be equipped with a melee weapon and a ranged weapon, usually a gun or bow, to eliminate the surprisingly diverse range of bad guys throughout the game. There are a few to choose from, each type of weapon having different playstyles and stats that will affect whatever build you’re trying to establish. The problem is…there’s just not that very many of them and once you find what works well for you there’s really no point in trying anything else as you’re incentivised towards pouring all your resources into upgrading your current equipment to a higher tier. Sure, you lose all your gathered currencies when you die to whatever group of enemies manages to block your path but once I’d discovered a pair of very powerful dual-swords within the first thirty minutes of Foregone, I was set for the rest of my run. Maybe I’m just one of those player’s that’s too stubborn and stuck in my ways to actually bother experimenting with anything but at the same time I’d at least enjoy any kind of reason to try something else. Still, it’s certainly worth mentioning that Foregone is still in early access so there’s definitely room to build on an established combat system and make it a little more engaging and/or satisfying.
Which could also be said for the game’s skill system as it takes that approach so many character-based RPG’s do these days by making your progression tied to your collected resources. Not only that but all your improvements are in statistics, meaning that any upgrades are barely noticeable. Which I’ll admit is certainly a “me” problem rather than any issue of the game. Having such minuscule character development means that players who like going all-in on designing their perfect build really get a lot from the experience but for those of us who enjoy a more tangible progression system, it’s very underwhelming.
So it’s a good thing that the traversal and combat abilities the game rolls out over your playtime are actually genuinely fun and interesting to use. More of those please, Foregone. At least when I discover how to unleash an aura of fire I can see that I’m more powerful. Yet when I’m boosting my damage by 15% (or some such random number), that means nothing to me.
Having said all that Foregone is still a really enjoyable game. The combat has a decent weight to it, the enemies and the different groups they attack in often pose quite a decent challenge when it comes to manoeuvring out of their way and the game’s animation and the art style is gorgeous. While it’s clear the inspiration of Dead Cells is almost 1:1 in some cases, Foregone has enough unique imagery to set it aside from its competitor. They’re two games that play very differently but if the aesthetic of Dead Cells scratched an itch for you, Foregone will satisfy you in much the same way, at least visually. I enjoyed the time I spent with Foregone and I hope that its period in early access is enough to fix some of the game’s more disappointing areas. If you’re willing to overlook some aspects that might irritate you in the long term, there’s definitely fun to be had here.
Last Updated: March 13, 2020