Chai’s Triumphant Entrance – Forspoken’s Frey Left in the Shadows

Hi-Fi Rush's Chai
Forspoken's Athia

Forspoken is a Square Enix game revealed in early 2021 as a Sony exclusive. It was in development for several years with a higher budget and multiple advertisements before its release on 24 January. 

Recently, a newer game has approached the gaming industry without any warning. Developer Tango Gameworks released Hi-Fi Rush a day later, on  January 25. After its reveal in the Xbox Developer Direct as an unknown, exclusive project, Hi-Fi Rush was shadow dropped after the event. It should be obvious which game was rated well within the gaming industry. However, the results speak otherwise.

Sales of Hi-Fi Rush vs Forspoken

Hi-Fi Rush Sales Look Promising

The overall opinion between the two games is astronomical when comparing their placements on Steam. As Hi-Fi Rush sits high within the top 20 best-selling games, Forspoken has only reached near the top 150. 

Sales between the two games were heavily affected by their accessibility. Hi-Fi Rush was released on Steam and Xbox Series X/S for $30; it became free for Xbox Game Pass users. Many more players would favor the lower price compared to Forspoken which was released on Steam and PS5 for $70 retail. While the Sony exclusive did hold more prominent features, its price range was steeper for newer players to commit.

What They Share

Forspoken has a similar writing style to Hi-Fi Rush

A significant similarity between the two exclusive titles is their Whedon writing style. Both games have quippy, funny dialogue that makes the character interaction more lively and engaging. How they incorporate such interactions is quite different, which heavily affects the audience’s response.

The interactions within Forspoken need to sync better with the severe scenarios within Athia. Quippy dialogue makes multiple scenes feel very out of place, especially involving the protagonist. Frey engages with the folks of Athia with an informal, witty mindset due to being from another world. 

The central issue is her exaggerated and emotional personality. It showcases her alienation from the new world and troublesome past. Such dramatic emotions get the best of Frey, which causes her to be more rude and prideful with her direct engagements. This is especially evident with her companion, Cuff. 

Hi-Fi Rush takes a different, more straightforward route for its writing within the Vandelay campus. Instead of focusing on alienation, its primary purpose is to show how expressive rock n roll is. Every character is exaggerated and colorful to showcase their personality. This contrast works well with its cartoon appearance and musical influence. Every character is loud to emphasize the game’s passion for its rocking music, especially for the protagonist.

How Music beats Magic

Some complications made Forspoken less appealing than the rival exclusive. Having such a high retail price and demanding spec requirements would make players hold higher expectations for the game. How the game handled the Isekai scenario was unique, centering everything around Frey being an outsider to Athia and learning to survive on its lands. It was very ambiguous yet too complicated to portray Frey’s journey. Such complexity in the protagonist with unmemorable characters makes the experience dull and unsatisfying for more players.

Hi-Fi Rush somehow made itself a bright hope for Microsoft’s future. It’s unbelievable for a well-designed game to be initially priced as a budget game. Though the story and gameplay are much simpler and standard, the expressive, wacky style, and combat make up for the game’s experience. Such alluring, satisfying music and combat allows players to replay the game to their hearts’ content.

Forpoken is held back

Due to Forespoken’s low success, its original IP may be unable to continue. Some issues would affect the game’s overall opinions, including higher retail price, highly demanding spec and GB space requirements, performance issues, and several others. It still has a unique experience and can be enjoyed by those who favor an Isekai protagonist and magical world. 

While it did find a specific audience, it doesn’t seem enough for Square Enix to support it in the long run. More time was needed to perfect its story and characters for a more satisfying journey. How Athia is detailed is what Square Enix’s future titles should appear. What’s needed is more memorable colors and features, similar to Hi-Fi Rush’s animated aesthetics and characters. Forspoken needed its own pizazz to blend well with its world to make the players enjoy its unique, realistic Isekai.

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