FORCED (yes, the title is all caps) is a new action/RPG/puzzle Kickstarter-funded game released by fledgling Danish game studio Beta Dwarf Entertainment. FORCED tells the story of a civilization where you are a slave, forced to compete in a gladiator battle school to eventually earn your freedom. None who have been forced to battle have ever returned.
Through this gladiator school, you will fight through over 30 levels. Each level offers a different setup of puzzles and traps, all with increasing complexity. To guide you through your journey is a mentor orb named Balfus, who is used to activate various abilities and help progress through each stage.
In addition, you can use four different weapons to determine your fighting style, all with their own skill trees. Each offers a different type of play, and requires different strategies depending on the playstyle. Weapons hitting opponents build “marks”, which are used to make special abilities stronger.
A mashup of genres, FORCED can be described as a mixure of Diablo/League of Legends/any iPhone puzzle game.
Interesting Hybrid Combination
At first FORCED seems like a simple diablo-esque action RPG, but after you play through the tutorial, a puzzle element kicks in. In addition to fighting with your character, you control Balfus, a mentor orb that acts as your guide through the game. He acts like a follower, and the spacebar controls when he is stationary and when he follows you. You go to point A, press space, and Balfus follows you to point A. To activate the orb’s special abilities, you must make him follow you through various totems then go to a certain destination. Abilities include healing, speed boosts, and damaging abilities, such as the orb turning into a bomb. Certain powers will be lost if the orb touches walls, so you must navigate it around walls and other obstacles. It’s an interesting mechanic, and the uses are varied.
Variety of Fighting Styles
The four weapons the player can choose from offers a good variety of playstyles. Do you pick the flaming axe and smash the opponents from close range, or use the bow and hit from afar? Each weapon comes with it’s own active and passive skills, which means you can use many different strategies for defeating opponents.
Although passable, the graphics seem lacking. The colors and art style are reminiscent of Warcraft III and League of Legends, with bright and colorful backdrops and a similar art style. This might have serviced four or five years ago, but it does not set FORCED apart, leaving it feel somewhat dated. It’s a far cry from the crisp, detailed graphics of Diablo III.
The orb mechanic is an interesting addition to the arena combat, but it continually felt clunky and got in the way of the experience. More time was spent trying to guide the orb than actually fighting enemies, and drew the focus away from the combat.
FORCED represents a decent first outing for Beta Dwarf entertainment. Kickstarter-funded games are always a gamble, with hits and misses and quality varying wildly. Unfortunately, in this case, it’s a losing bet. It presents an interesting twist on the action-RPG genre, but the clunky controls and awkward combat detract from the experience significantly. It feels like the developer tried to combine a puzzle game with an action RPG, and it simply does not work as intended. I can’t recommend this game based on the content I was able to play at the time of the review. You’re better off playing Diablo III, League of Legends, and iPhone puzzle games separately, rather than an unsuccessful mashup of genres. Also, at the time of this review, CO-OP mode wasn’t yet available.
FORCED is available now on PC (Windows, Mac, and Linux) for $11.99.
FORCED Platform: PC