Forsake Review (PC) – Alone By Daylight
Forsake is a 1-4 player co-op horror survival game that bathes in darkness and takes inspiration from such masterpieces* as Dead by Daylight and basically any exorcism related movie. If you follow our podcast, you’ll probably be quite aware of just how deep my addiction with Dead by Daylight goes, so anything that can scratch that horror itch and finally pull me off that game is a welcome gift.
After a year in Early Access, Forsake has undergone it’s full release. Entities are spewing forth and it’s up to your ragtag urban explorer group to find their relics to banish them back where they came from. A mix of walking simulator exploration and hide-and-seek gameplay mechanics, Forsake has a compelling horror foundation.
The real questions are how the mechanics fare under the pressure of solo play and whether the scares and atmosphere can survive the nightmares of 4 random players stumbling through the darkness together.
I’ll Fortake That
Descending into Forsake’s depths, there are a total of 6 maps, each with dozens of procedurally randomised variations. Your objective is to scour the location, find 3 relics to perform the exorcism then lure the entity to the site to end the trial. Along the way, you’ll have to avoid the lethal creature stalking the area and hoover up as much loot as you can.
It’s fairly simplistic by design. Your only real task is to navigate the locales, whether it be the looping corridors of the asylum or the vast expanse of the woods. Named rooms or locations will be marked on your map, many of which will be inaccessible until you find the correct key, code or magnetic card.
The gameplay loop of Forsake basically revolves around a game of try every door/room to find every item you can, then use those items to open new locations and so on until you finish. Thankfully, Forsake takes a green-herb leaf from Resident Evil and greys out locations you’ve gathered everything from, helpfully letting you know to move on and avoiding too much confusion.
Occasionally, there’ll be a tiny puzzle, for example removing a vent grate or finding a movable bookcase to access an adjacent room. For 95% of your gameplay however, you’ll be scouting rooms and hitting X to pick up everything that glows.
Running Is Foreshadowed
Naturally, this wouldn’t be much of a horror game if it was all that easy. The omnipresent entity will be a different variation depending on the map you’re playing, but regardless they’ll all stalk the area, sniffing for any mortal coil they can shuffle off.
To that end you’ll need to mix up how much you sprint (which makes a lot of noise), and hide in various holes and throw glowsticks in order to blind them. Depending on the difficulty, their AI is either comically easy to overcome, or a nightmare of heinous proportions. Easy and medium allow you to carry more glowsticks (which act as get-out-of-demonic-jail-free cards), have more health and decreases the entities’ awareness or movement.
However, hard and nightmare drastically improve their ability to chase you down and off you, and unfortunately this is where the problem really lies. If playing solo then easy and medium difficulties feel like the only viable way to play, as once I was caught on hard I was basically already dead. The real challenge of Forsake will be if you can team up with a squad to take on the (now invisible) beast on nightmare difficulty.
Unfortunately I was restricted to solo play, which meant that while I enjoyed the game of hide-and-seek with the lethal pursuers, it was pretty limited and descended into either hiding and hoping or just running and hoping. While you do gain further tools to aid your exploration and ability to evade the entities, the gameplay never changes up all that much, which makes it feel a bit stale on your own after a few trials.
One aspect Forsake absolutely nails is the sense of atmosphere and place. This is a dark game, a pitch-black enveloping shadows kind of dark. You start with a basic flashlight (fortunately, it is infinite) which just barely manages to breach the suffocating bleakness. Roaming around the asylum or the school felt permanently unnerving owing to how little you can see.
The detail given to each location also sells the aura superbly. Desolate classrooms are foreboding: the never-ending woods feel claustrophobic, the cramped alleys of the slums are terrifying. The developers have done a fantastic job of creating such a powerful darkness while still maintaining a believability about the maps themselves.
Most maps have multiple layers and their design on the whole is fantastic, especially given they will randomly change their layouts each time. There are some small issues, like getting easily cornered in the slums thanks to long alleyways with many a dead-end, but they feel minor overall.
The creature models don’t fare quite as well however, owing to how they can regularly clip through the environment and look more like they’re sliding across the map as opposed to forcefully traversing it. It’s okay for the grim-reaper type entity, less so for the bulging butcher type. Their designs are pretty good, if a little cliché; they’re just undermined by the lack of animation work.
Foretold Of Upgrades
Assuming you survive the entity or escape via a predesignated point if you wimp out of completing the ritual, you’ll accrue XP and currency with which to upgrade. Forsake offers a simple skill tree which provides passive buffs like stamina increases or even communication with other players. You can swap out upgrades any way you like using skill points to change up your abilities as you need to between trials.
Currency is used to purchase or improve equipment, of which you can take up to three per trial. A crowbar for example may help you unlock a secret room with loot, while a video camera gives you the means to see in night-vision, removing the threat of the dark. The tools all feel pretty handy and some of the later ones are essential for doing trials on harder difficulties.
Once again, some of the skills and equipment in Forsake I couldn’t really utilise owing to not having co-op partners to coordinate with. Despite that, it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into how teams can synergise their loadouts to outwit and outrun the more powerful entities on harder difficulties, so there’s some really good balancing that’s gone on here.
The dishing out of currency and XP also feels consistent enough that it feels rewarding, without showering you with so much you become too powerful too quickly. I appreciated the level of balance and the year in Early Access has clearly proven valuable as it feels well-tuned for where it should be.
Forewarned Is Forearmed
Forsake is a good horror game that I imagine will fulfill a lot of wishes for teams who want to practice their exorcism skills. At £9 it feels like a downright steal, owing to how many variations of maps there are and the potential for maximising your squad’s abilities to overcome the odds at the higher difficulties.
Even only playing solo, I had a good few hours of fun evading the creatures, scouring every nook and cranny and making a brave dash to escape with my loot intact. The gameplay becomes more repetitive if you’re only playing by yourself however, so if you can rope in a couple of like-minded exorcism enthusiasts, you’ll get a lot more value out of the package.
I should mention that in terms of scares, Forsake’s heavy lifting is performed mostly by its darkness and atmosphere. There are some nice effects like lightning, random doors creaking and what not, but the entities themselves don’t hold a lot of fear-factor. There are some very effective jumpscares strewn about, particularly when you first play a few trials. Kids running past doorways never gets less creepy…
I’d recommend Forsake if you’re into horror games and need a new one to scratch the itch. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it provides some effective scares and solid replayability if you have some co-op buddies to conduct the rituals with.
Forsake is a brilliant blend of helpless walking-simulator and teamwork-focused horror exploration. While the gameplay loop is slightly repetitive and the predator entities lose their luster, the sense of atmosphere and potential replayability with friends makes this an exorcism worth seeking out.
Forsake is available now on PC (review platform) via Steam.
Developer: Unseen Interactive
Publisher: Unseen Interactive
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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