PlayStation 5, PC
Forspoken, the upcoming title from Luminous Productions and this month’s cover story, largely takes place in the magical world of Athia. Unfortunately, the realm has seen better days, as a creeping corruption has flooded the once-prosperous land. The Break, as the destructive fog is known in the game, has the power to corrupt anything it touches. Humans become hostile and mindless, animals morph into monsters, and even the land itself takes on a bizarre appearance.
While there have been several trailers for Forspoken, much of them take place in a dry, desert-looking region. This land is just outside Cipal, the last dwelling in Athia for those unaffected by the Break. However, Athia’s world is actually filled with a lot of variation, some of which we recently got to see. Just past the rocky fields and ominous fog lies a region the developers revealed in a hands-off demo exclusively for Game Informer: Avoalet.
Flowering In Fog
Unlike its neighboring realm, Avoalet boasts a thriving, verdant landscape. The first area we saw in this land is fittingly called The Water Garden. The name underscores Avoalet’s fertile nature while also connecting to larger design themes. Creative producer Raio Mitsuno explains that each realm has a distinct identity.
“Avoalet is very blue and lush, with green and flowers and bodies of water,” says Mitsuno, “but the Break has done really messed up stuff to the landscape.”
That includes warping the area’s native creatures into crazed beasts. Within moments of entering the realm, a pair of mutant bucks attack Frey. Their flesh looks like it was melted with molten gold, which leaves the animals gilded in an unnatural, web-like pattern. The metallic latticework weaves up past the creatures’ black, lifeless eyes and wraps around viciously pointed antlers. It’s these sharp weapons that we first see emerging out of the heavy fog as the deer ram into the game’s heroine. After a hard-won fight full of dramatic magical combat, Frey continues moving into the murky new land. Eventually, the Break begins to lighten, revealing Avoalet’s striking scenery.
Tall trees shade vibrant patches of flowers from a sunny sky. The scene is peaceful and starkly contrasts with the savage fight Frey just left behind, but don’t let the tranquility fool you. There are still dangers lurking around every corner. On a nearby cliff is an unopened chest. It’s guarded by a flock of predatory birds, which swoop out of the brilliant blue sky to attack the unwary Frey as she attempts to collect the treasure. Quickly scooping up the crafting components inside the chest, Frey zips off using her magical parkour skills for an easy escape.
It’s Quiet, Too Quiet
Despite the lovely surroundings, the game still takes time to remind the player that the Break affected Avoalet just as much as the rest of Athia. An empty cart, with crafting material still left in its bed, is stuck in the mud. Crates are strewn around the vehicle, and it seems clear that someone tried to flee the coming corruption, only to abandon their possessions in a desperate moment.
“The conditions are harsh, the human drama and problems are just as real as in New York even if the circumstances are heightened,” says story writer Todd Stashwick. “The stakes now for Frey are more than just her own problems. It’s life or death for a lot of people.”
Just down the road, Frey finds a Refuge and Lutetia Guild location. These are places where she can discover more about the world’s past, craft needed items, and add locations to her map. But it isn’t long before she’s off again.
Land Of Justice
Avoalet, like any other area in Athia, is ruled by a Tanta, a magic-wielding queen meant to embody one distinct ideal. Tanta Prav, the Tanta of Justice, rules this lush kingdom. However, Tanta Prav’s judgment has been corrupted by the Break, transforming her into an alarming adjudicator with merciless minions. As Frey reaches the Merveil Bridge, which leads to Prav’s court, she runs into a score of Unjust Enforcers. These Avoalet-specific enemies obey the Tanta’s command but don’t pose too much of a threat. Unfortunately for Frey, these foes have a Pitiless Arbiter on their side.
The black-clad, blindfolded mini-boss holds a set of scales in one hand and a ferocious-looking ax in the other. Using one for magic attacks and the other for melee, the Pitiless Arbiter is ready to execute a swift death sentence. The fight on the bridge is intense – partly because of how far above the ground the fighters are – but it isn’t the last battle Frey will face before reaching the land’s ruler. The foe-riddled city of Gyuzel and an abandoned castle town buried in the Depths of Corruption test Frey’s magical combat skills.
After defeating everyone in the first location, Frey finds a blue cape with a description that suggests it once belonged to the Tanta of Justice, whose kingdom is deeply connected to the garment’s royal hue. The cloak isn’t just for show as it extends the duration of Frey’s positive status effects, but it doesn’t add much to her defense. And Frey will need a strong defense when she is brought before the now-crazed Tanta to face an unexpected trial of her alleged crimes.
We got to see the beginning of the hearing unfold, and we’ll cover those intriguing story details soon as this month of Forspoken coverage rolls on. However, if you want more information on the game now, check out Game Informer’s Forspoken hub.