FORCED is a “One- to four-player co-op arcade adventure with puzzles and tactical elements. You are cast as slaves in the toughest fantasy gladiator school of them all, condemned to fight as a gladiator and eventually win your freedom. You will face deadly trials and huge creatures, but Balfus, your Spirit Mentor will guide you in your quest for recognition.”
FORCED, by its own admittance is a Challenging game, hinted at by the message displayed on the title screen stating that you will die alot, and that the game is best played in co-op. I have spent some time playing the game in both single player and co-op, and single player is definitely difficult compared to the co-op experience. Even though the game does compensate for there being more players, by adding more enemies, it is definitely a better experience.
The game starts out by introducing us to the back story, with our player being born into a tribe of people trapped inside ‘Moon Gore Valley’. Marked to be destined for ‘the pit’ to “appease the gods, and avoid their punishment” the intro goes on to show us training for the day where we “will be FORCED to venture into the unknown, that day is now..”
We then take control of our character and are introduced to Balfus, our spirit guide. Who not only tells us the story as we progress through the game, but who we also get to control by calling him over. Balfus is used throughout the game to help solve some of the arenas ‘puzzles’, tasks such as moving blocks and activating certain shrines. This addition is a nice touch and gets players interacting, working out how best to use balfus, and at points timing their calling of him to accomplish some of the arena to progress.
The way in which FORCED applies the need for players to co-operate properly is spot on, there are other titles of this genre in which the co-op element consists of everyone aimlessly hacking, slashing and/or shooting the enemies, which can leave the co-op experience a little stale. FORCED gets players to engage with each other, and the hours I spent playing were a really enjoyable experience.
After meeting Balfus and listening to some dialogue, we run a tutorial level that introduces us to the basics of gameplay. and then on to the main game. As mentioned before FORCED is set out in arenas, or ‘Trials’ as they are called in game (of which there are 25+) in which players complete to earn crystals. Crystals are needed to progress through the game and unlock more powers as you go. Survival mode is what it is, and more Survival maps are unlocked as you earn more crystals in the campaign.
There are four classes to choose from in FORCED. with each having their own strengths and weaknesses, they are, The Spirit Blades, The Volcanic Hammer, The Frost Shield and The Storm Bow. There’s no real feeling of picking a favourite class, as there are some trials more suited to some than others. Players can choose between each class in the setup room before each trial, but only one of each class can be used in co-op. Again putting players in the position of making decisions, and discussing who has what class.
Graphically FORCED is rich and colourful, and stands up to other titles in the genre. The frame rate holds up too, during times of intense fighting and lots going off on screen I have seen more expensive titles suffer from frame rate loss during the same situation. The audio is what you would expect, with lots of sounds from the various enemies, weapons and powers. The soundtrack is fitting with the title, but nothing special.