Developed by: Betadwarf
Published by: Betadwarf
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 (also available on PC)
The original PC version of Forced had humble beginnings as a passion project by a group of student developers. Their Kickstarter campaign became an overnight success story after this image highlighted their struggle to get the game made. Diablo style games are all too common on PC, but Forced stood out thanks to its strong emphasis on coordinated co-op play and its high level of difficulty.
The aptly titled Forced: Slightly Better Edition for the PlayStation 4 offers the exact same experience. Like its PC counterpart, the PS4 version offers a variety of co-op scenarios that range from surviving arena style battles to traversing through stages while solving puzzles. Up to four players can play together locally on the same console or via PSN. What distinguishes it from similar genre titles is the interchangeable weapon system. There are four weapon types: the Frost Shield, the Storm Bow, the Volcanic Hammer, and the Spirit Knives. Each weapon offers unique active and passive skills that can be swapped out between stages. For instance, the Frost Shield can be thrown Captain America style or be used as a purely defensive build to stem the enemy tide. The Storm Bow is ideal for long distance attacks, the Volcanic Hammer is best for crowd control, and the Spirit Knives excels in quick hit and run tactics.
While it looks like a typical hack and slash affair, Forced adds a unique wrinkle: you have an orb shaped spirit companion named Balfus, who is used to solve puzzles and manipulate the stages. Each player is able to summon Balfus to their position, which is often necessary to solve some of the more complex puzzles. Having Balfus pass through special pedestals brands him with a unique attribute, such as a healing circle or temporarily turning him into a bomb. Trying to manipulate Balfus to your advantage while being attacked by enemy mobs requires strong communication and coordination. As mentioned earlier, the game can get brutally difficult and frustrating at times. Completing a difficult challenge or boss battle with a group of friends by the skin of your teeth is a very satisfying experience. Playing the game alone is not recommended due to the high difficulty level. The option to adjust the level of difficulty would make this Forced more approachable.
Visually, Forced sports a rather bland, repetitive visual aesthetic. The music and dialogue aren’t particularly memorable, either, but does an adequate job in pushing the plot forward. The character and monster designs are by the numbers, but the game does sport a nice palette of colors. The game also suffers from repetitive level designs and objectives. But the most egregious flaw is the game’s constant framerate dips, making for a choppy experience during the most crucial times. Considering the visuals are nothing to write home about, it’s disappointing that the game doesn’t run at a consistent clip. It’s very unfortunate that the game’s poor performance gets in the way at times. Hopefully this is something Betadwarf can address with a patch or correct in theirnext game. They’ve certainly laid the groundwork for a potentially great co-op series.