May 23, 2022

FORECLOSED – Google Stadia Review

Beyond its comic book aesthetic, FORECLOSED doesn’t bring much to the table.

Published by: Merge Games

Developed by: Antab Studio

The idea of a good cyberpunk game in 2021 might seem like such a hard and seemingly unattainable feat. Aside from the obvious example, there are so many other titles out there that have taken a dip into the genre.

And of those, quite a few are definitely worth your time checking out. Off the top of my head, The Ascent and Ghostrunner are two exceptional games, both completely different from one another. However, the pair do have a common theme between them; the aesthetics of “cyberpunk”.

Looming mega-cities, usually involving corrupt companies, cyberpunk is more often than not dystopic in its scope. The inhabitants usually boast enhancements on or even in their bodies. And weapons tend to be futuristic and/or able to break some facet of science (we’ll cover that in the body of the review). Yes, cyberpunk titles (whether they be games, books, TV, or indeed movies) aren’t exactly covering their genre conventions.

So, with so much going on in the genre, it should be obvious that it has seen a boom in recent years. Yet, not all of those have been as successful as some of the bigger players in the game.

One such game, FORECLOSED, is certainly a title that doesn’t have the same level of funding or renown. And it certainly shows.

Yes, I did perform this review on a copy of the game on Google Stadia. The content of this review, however, is not to look at how Stadia performs or handles. We are, strictly, looking at how FORECLOSED performs as a game.

Locked Out

FORECLOSED sees you play a quiet, stoic protagonist, Evan Kapnos. Kapnos boasts augmentations connected to his gun. He can utilise rapid-fire, explosive rounds, and other such powers through his augments.

The crux of the narrative is that Kapnos has been locked out of his blockchain finances. (Seems to be something that could genuinely happen the closer to a digital economy we get). As such, Kapnos heads to his former employer to see what the f- happened with his accounts.

Oh, and his neuro-implants also keep him locked into the city. Meaning that if he decided he wanted to leave, he can’t.

At least, I think that’s an element of the narrative. It’s so uninspired that you simply lose interest in the “what” or “why”. All you know is, Kapnos has to get to his former employer to get answers. It’s also at his former employer that he picks up his special gun. And, in this context, “special” means only he can use it as it is linked to his neuro-implants.

That bit sounds cool at least, right? Well…

Aside from the confusing narrative, FORECLOSED is also plagued with a really uninspired and bland protagonist. Seriously, there’s so little to make you feel connected to Kapnos that you wonder why you bothered playing in the first place. And, when you consider all the different ways to connect to things in FORECLOSED, it becomes somewhat ironic. But not in a fun way.

The more interesting part of the game, the gun, also has flaws. Chief among which, the gunplay simply doesn’t hold up at times. Whilst it’s fairly forgiving at earlier stages, at other times, there’s little in terms of “feel”. Shots lack any real sense of impact at times. And, at the latter stages of the game, even the headshots lose their effectiveness.

Of course, the more you play through, collecting items and defeating enemies, you gain more XP and eventually level up. This levelling up grants you access to new power-ups, such as the aforementioned rapid-fire shots et al. You also get personal power-ups to use. You won’t necessarily be using these powers often, and they only become prevalent in combat scenarios.

However, you can’t just spam these powers. As the power-ups are connected to your neuro-implants, you have a set amount of times you can use them before overheating your synapses and giving yourself a cyberpunk-sized migraine. It brings an element of caution to the combat mechanics. And it makes you think about balancing the power-ups you apply to the usage you get out of them.

The game’s real saving grace, however, is the aesthetic. It’s the typical cyberpunk affair – large, sprawling skyscrapers dominated by neon lights etc, and fantastical flying vehicles – but the way FORECLOSED presents it is above-and-beyond others in the genre. You’ll notice the cell-shaded aesthetics immediately, and these build into the game’s comic book look perfectly.

What’s the matter with your face, Choom?

The framing is perfectly comic book-esque as well. There will be scenes that play out in frames, just like a comic. You’ll be able to move about in these frames, and other areas of the story will play out in a separate frame. It’s quite a refreshing look, to be honest.

There is a weird display used, however. Whilst the central characters that Kapnos interacts with directly have fully realised faces, everyone else is featureless.

Even worse, the secondary characters and enemy drones have a weird visual going on on their faces. It looks like a series of interlocking triangles covering the majority of their faces. And, whilst it does provide a unique aesthetic, it looks more like the developers simply weren’t bothered with generating too many faces.

Sadly, the game’s musical score doesn’t live up to expectations, either. It’s less a scene-specific soundtrack, with emotive percussions and rhythms being used, and more a generic, monotonous drone radiating out. It won’t distract you from the action, by any means. But it also won’t be something you’ll enjoy listening to.

To be fair to FORECLOSED, it at least does boast full voice acting. Apart from when Kapnos is engaged in conversation with someone. In those instances, you have choices as to what to say to the other character. These options can be positive or negative in response, can push for further information, or can just be a bit of character development. However, more often than not, regardless of what options you choose in regards to conversation, the other party will always say the exact same things regardless of what you say.

This isn’t always a problem, apart from when you ask a direct question that reads different in tone to the other option you have. So, it comes across as though your options in regards to dialogue have no bearing on the story whatsoever.

Ahh, Mr Kapnos, We’ve Been Expecting You…Though, We Don’t Know Why

Now, of course, FORECLOSED was never billed as being a “pick-your-own-adventure” type of game. However, what is the point of having options in dialogue when they have no bearing on the conversation anyway?

Seriously, there’s so much promise to FORECLOSED and yet it just misses so many of them on a constant basis.

And the story, which, might I add, doesn’t really make enough sense to want to follow the rationale behind Kapnos’ actions doesn’t even end well.

After going through a series of neverending battles to get to the final antagonist – the man who is responsible for putting you and your former employer to court to do…something – you are given two options; raise your gun and kill him, stopping the auction going to court and, effectively, saving your former employer. Or leave the gentleman alive, he puts the auction through, the warrant for Kapnos goes live and he becomes a wanted man, but is given enough time to at least escape the city.

So, either do your former employer, and the reason why you’re in this mess in the first place, a solid and safe them from financial ruin…or leave the city and get away. Regardless of what option you pick, the game just…ends. No further action can be taken by the player, and you just watch one of two short cinematics play out before the credits roll. Ultimately, then, a disastrous conclusion to a miserable narrative.

And the idea of a multiplayer mode (of any kind) can’t save the game, either. It doesn’t have one. Like, of any kind. No co-op story mode, no drop-in-to-other-player’s-games, nothing of the sort at all. Not that it would actually necessarily improve things. But still, just something else FORECLOSED doesn’t have going for it.

In Conclusion…

So, when it comes down to it, what does FORECLOSED actually offer? Why would you want to play the game? Well, unless you have a hard-on for comic-book cyberpunk games with lacklustre gunplay, you probably won’t.

I was genuinely interested in FORECLOSED. It looked like a game that you could enjoy. There seemed like a genuinely good game there. Sadly, it falls flat at nearly every hurdle. The only redeemable factor I can muster to find beyond the aesthetics was that it was on sale when it became available. And even then, I’m not sure if I was over-charged for the experience.

Ultimately, FORECLOSED gets a lowly 3/10. The comic-book aesthetics are the only thing keeping the score as high as it is. However, the convoluted narrative, bland protagonist, and uninspired gunplay (which takes up the vast majority of the gameplay) really do hold the game back. And when the aspects are as quintessential to the whole game as them, it’s a really difficult sell.

FORECLOSED is available now via PC (Steam and Epic Games), PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia (obviously).


FORECLOSED Review
  • 3/10
    Overall - 3/10
3/10

Summary

FORECLOSED is a cyberpunk-themed stealth/action-shooter with a comic book aesthetic. It plays around with several different ideas, but sadly, doesn’t execute any of them well. We reviewed the game on Google Stadia and gave the game 3/10.

Pros

+ Clean, crisp comic book aesthetic

 

Cons

– Lacklustre gunplay

– Uninspired protagonist

– Convoluted and confusing narrative

– Music that does nothing to help drive the action 

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