My approach to reviewing this game is going to be at odds with its whimsy. After all, this is an action-RPG about saving the land of Shmoop from an evil chicken. I probably shouldn't take it so seriously. While I appreciate what Forge Quest is going for, I don't think it does enough to establish itself as either a fun adventure or a challenging game.
As the hero-in-training, you'll brave the depths of four dungeons, contend with a handful of bosses, and craft superior gear. As far as the genre goes, Forge Quest offers plenty of diversity, with strong mechanics to back it up. At the start, you're given the choice between numerous classes. However, like Dark Souls, this is mostly just for starting out. As you gain levels, you can put skill points into fighter, thief, and mage classes. Your identity is not limited, because with enough experience you could become the mightiest arch-mage ninja warlord in Shmoop.
The combat falls somewhere in-between Diablo and The Legend of Zelda. Naturally you'll want the strongest gear, so you can crush your enemy in numbers. However, you'll also have to consider weapons that suit your style of play. A sword is suitable for most situations, but you might appreciate the strength of a great sword. The bow is the trademark of any good adventurer, but throwing knives are so much faster. Each weapon behaves differently, and has their own special technique when the attack button is held down. Essentially, you have to do more than just click on enemies to kill them. Numerous spells and weapon-skills round out your offensive options. My only complaint is that the mechanics aren't sufficiently tight. Enemies can and will hurt you even if it doesn't look like their attacks actually touch. You'll adapt to it in time.
Unlike most action-RPGs, the strongest gear is crafted, not acquired via monster piñatas and luck. Numerous weapons and armor are dropped when enemies are destroyed, but most of it is junk. By taking all this garbage to the forge, you can craft something powerful. All loot has its own level. Every piece can be strengthened up to 10 levels past their current. Equipment can also be slotted to hold ability-boosting runes. It's a very well-done system, too well-done really. While this likely won't be a major issue in the first play-through, crafting will lead to the player becoming overpowered.
Allow me to explain just how quickly crafting can get out of control. Stats are decided through exponential increases. Early on, you'll only get a few HP when you level up. Eventually this number goes to the 10s, the 100s, the 1000s, and beyond. Enemy stats rise in much the same manner. As long as you keep your gear updated, you'll hardly notice a difference no matter what difficulty you're on. The numbers are massive, but actually change very little. To really shatter the balance, you can pile on the runes and max out particular skills. I'm at the fourth dungeon of my Hard-difficulty play-through. My twin-axes have a DPS of 150,000+. I don't doubt that there are other players at the same point with even stronger weapons. It's absolute overkill and renders much of the replay-value moot. There's no real difficulty to a game, when bosses can be defeated in a couple hits.
Now I won't claim that this experience will be the same for every adventurer, but once you get a basic grasp of the crafting system, you will become overpowered. You could limit yourself by not crafting. However, this means you'll have to rely entirely on drops and your grasp of combat techniques. This is a worrying situation to consider, because the difference between 10 or even 5 levels of gear can be dramatic. The developer could always patch the game and make crafting less useful. This is an idea I'm torn on.
You may remember a game for the Xbox 360 called Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
. Like Forge Quest, it's an action-rpg with an overpowered crafting element. In that game, there were orange potions you could find. Basically, they worked as a multiplier when crafted to a weapon or armor. Most players just stocked up on these potions, and were able to turn their starter gear into something powerful enough to kill the final boss in one hit. It got to a point where nobody really knew how crafting was supposed to work. Eventually the orange potions were patched/nerfed severely, and everyone either gave up or stuck to the previous version. This is an extreme scenario, but I think it's worth mentioning. Balancing is an especially delicate aspect of Action-RPGs. You can't simply fix what was broken, or you risk making the game less fun. Difficulty has to expand outward by bringing in new challenges. Harder play-throughs shouldn't only result in stronger monsters. Give these creatures new abilities, throw in some new foes, and change things around when appropriate.
Even if I ignore the game-breaking crafting, it's difficult to muster an appreciation for the dungeons. Seeing as how they're randomized, it's important to include numerous ideas, so that every floor has something new to discover. Instead, repetition sets in far too quickly. The situations tend to be basic. There is a room, sometimes it is filled with enemies, maybe there's a block-pushing puzzle, or it could hold traps and treasure. I won't ask for innovation, but some variety would have done wonders. This might be a symptom of the locales, which are all too familiar to RPG fans. Instead of four large dungeons, I would have preferred to see eight smaller ones. It'd be nice to explore a robot factory, a haunted cathedral, or even a castle in the sky.
Multiplayer is available, although I think it'd benefit new players more than veterans. Teaming up to take on a deadly foe loses much of its appeal, when said foe is no match for even one hero. I didn't have any luck getting an online game started. One day I'll have to sit down and figure out port-forwarding.
With its charming voxel-graphics and light-hearted story, Forge Quest is sure to offer a pleasing first impression. However, it lacks the crucial elements that make for a highly-replayable action-RPG. If you liked this review or want to see more recommended games, be sure to follow our curator group: Follow Original Curator Group