Sometimes the story of how a game was made says a lot about the game itself. Beta Dwarf, creators of Forced, out now on Steam, clearly had faith in their idea. They squatted illegally in a university classroom for months whilst building this game, the whole team sleeping and eating in this unoccupied room, then when caught they moved into a cheap house until the money ran out, at which point they turned to a bank loan and Kickstarter to finish the game. All of this should tell you one thing, this game wasn’t just thrown out the door for money, this game was made over a couple of years with true passion and love. And thank god after the turmoil of production I am able to say that this is a damn fine game.
PC games and the concept of Co-Op have had a bumpy relationship, many game makers thinking that groups of friends wouldn’t crowd around a PC to play locally with each other, but in this world where people like me hook up their PC’s to their TV’s and use wired Xbox and PS3 controllers the idea is sound and for me a real incentive in purchasing. Forced is a game that whilst possible to play single player should only really be experienced with friends, either online or local. It harks back to a simpler time in gaming, one that features colour based classes, admittedly this game doesn’t have ‘Red Warrior Needs Food’ but it might as well.
You are a slave about to start a treacherous journey facing many challenges, you and your buddies climb down a pit and meet Balthus. Balthus is a glowing orb of energy and your guide and ally in the upcoming events. He takes you through the training where you are shown that this is on the face a simple top down action RPG, but give the game some time and you’ll realise the depth the experience. You choose one of four classes, this can be swapped out before any level. Any experience, or crystals in this game’s parlance, are carried from one class to another so if you find a particular challenge to hard you could always try out another player type. The options are the green rogue, the yellow ranger, the blue warrior or the red barbarian. Each has its own merits and flaws and a quite nice range of abilities.
The game puts you in arenas with an objective, be it ‘light these five beacons’ or ‘kill this big guy’. Balthus often plays quite a part in the objective usually requiring you to place waypoints for him to move through or around targets. He also can be used for buffs and healing, send him floating through a font and he’ll produce a green circle of healing for a short time. The mix of kill and survive tasks and puzzles to tax your little brain are quite varied and enjoyable. Within each arena is a main objective plus a time target and a special objective, often these will be hidden until after your first success but luckily you can fluke your way to success. Each objective you complete earns you a crystal which can be put towards new spells and passive abilities. By the end the game resembles an iOS game like Angry Birds giving you a 3 star rating, just in Forced it’s crystals.
I played mainly as the yellow ranger, he could provide distance attacks and group kills with his electric or exploding arrows shot from the opposite side of the level. My buddy, in this case Adam, would be playing tank with the red fire barbarian bringing down his lava warhammer and calling meteors from the sky. The game is hard, there’s no two ways about it, I’m not sure if this was because of there just being two of us or not. The loading screens suggest we come back when we have more crystals but I was often reluctant to listen to this advice as I wanted to see the next arena’s design.
At the end of each chapter, which is usually a handful of arenas with different objectives, you are tasked with taking down a boss, although it only took a few tries the first boss seemed cheap as after killing him he would pop up for a cut-scene and have half his health back. With lovely grass levels, desert levels and castle levels there is enough variety to keep you pushing through. The enemies are tough but on the most part fair and the character upgrade system has enough variety to it to keep you pushing for the extra crystals.
The team at Beta Dwarf have brought some interesting cards to the table with Forced, there’s out of the box Twitch integration, not something I’d personally use, but I understand there is a sizable crowd for it. This is a fun game, that’s all there is to say really, I’m not going to say it will revolutionise the gaming world but it will provide a group of four friends a chance to get together and play a game that feels retro but in a thoroughly modern design. The art and music complement each other and
This game isn’t Diablo or World of Warcraft, it’s not trying to be, if you go into this expecting loot and epic dungeons you’ll likely be disappointed. I’m reluctant to call it a ‘pick up and play’ title as it deserves better, it deserves your time, but it is also a simple game that won’t break you mind trying to comprehend it. If you enjoyed Gauntlet back in the day then get this, if you like co-op games with your friends then get this, and if you like a challenge and don’t want the moon on a stick then get this game.