14 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 7.8 hrs on record
Posted: Sep 3, 2019 @ 7:07pm
Updated: Sep 3, 2019 @ 7:07pm
Product received for free

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The Forbidden Arts is a 2D action platformer with a focus on exploration and making good use of the different unlockable abilities within the game. It clearly is a game made with plenty of love and effort, and it was in development for about 4 years and 1.5 years in Early Access, its full release recently became available to Steam.

While it is a full release, it is still rather laden with polished parts, and that is what will drive a lot of players away from the game. But before you knock this game too hard, please take a moment to consider that this was efforts of primarily one person, and that alone just blows me away.

Sure, the 3D overworld exploration is not too extensive and each area is also limited in size, that's because there's not much in the actual way of gameplay there. The actual gameplay and focus is in the 2D platforming levels, and the 3D world is more of a bonus and helps put together the story when everything comes together.

The game is rather difficult, and on different levels, the difficulty has been boosted, sometimes to bothersome level. I am fine with difficult-deal-with enemies that are sometimes unpredictable or bosses that take you a while to figure out. However, the normal enemies running around the screen often post significant threats to your safety, making it important to focus on every aspect of the gameplay. Sometimes this is not too bad, but there are places where you are basically locked in to an inevitable death, and those bother me a bit more.

The 2D platforming is basically what you expect it to be at baseline, run around, reach some difficult to get to locations to collect chunks of gold, which can be used to unlock challenge towers in the 3D world map. While doing the platforming, there are quite a few different types of enemies that each have their own attack patterns, all trying to take you out. You have to learn how to deal with each of the enemies individually and do your best not be ganged up by multiple enemies, because often in any combination, they can be easily lethal.

The enemies are rather relentless in their attacks, and they gravitate to where you are without letting up, which is often a problem. There are some enemies that are so incredibly annoying to deal with, that the best way to deal with them is when they are actually off-screen and not attacking you. You will gain an ability to use a fireball and so it becomes a regular method for me to cheese my way through enemies off-screen in order to ensure progression.

The jumping in any platforming game requires a lot of special attention, because it's important for you to be able to reach one area from another. And the jumps here are pretty responsive, very much how you would expect it. There is a double jump and often a wall jump. You can wall-scale left and right, but you cannot cling onto the same wall repeatedly. Making use of your special abilities as you gain them, you will be able to reach newer heights, literally. The game allows you to jump once if you fall off a platform, which is fairly standard. Though there are times when I feel that I should be making a jump off a top of a platform before the game thinks I have already walked off and only allows me to jump once.

I am so glad that there is no fall damage here, I read somewhere that it was in the Early Access version and the decision was made to take it out. *Phew!

There's a nice story that ties everything together. Again, this game was made with a lot of attention and love, and definitely plenty of time spent.

The game allows you to save pretty much anywhere, with a few exceptions, so that's a very nice touch that gives the game a bit more accessibility.

I used a controller, which I would recommend for anyone playing a 2D action platformer.

For indie titles that explores into 2.5D/3D environments, this is about as good as it gets. The appearances are amazing.

The music themes are pretty nice for this music.

Really meant to be for those who are fans of 2D action platformers, as the game gets rather difficult if you are just looking for something calm and casual.

Base price is $14.99, which I think is fair for the amount of effort put into the game. Though I do see plenty of people who will make up their mind on whether they like it or not rather quickly.

Where I Would Focus On Improvement
1. The gameplay is not smooth, often because the enemies have too much health, so either you have to spend a long time and methodically take them out one by one, or you rush and jump by everything you encounter to speed things up. The fact that my primary method of dealing with most of the flying enemies is by jumping and shooting fireballs at them while they are off-screen is a little problematic. But otherwise, they kill me too much.
2. Some enemies attack with very little tell, and dodging only works while dodging away. It would be great to dodge toward and roll to the back of the enemy instead.
3. Enemies that attack the ground under you, such as the Gnoll wizard or the Yeti should be attacking the location under your feet before you move away, not exactly where you are standing while the attack comes up. This becomes often unavoidable unless you jump. So there's a lot of jumping involved in dealing with these enemies at the moment.
4. When you are hanging off the edge of a platform and the enemy above wants to attack, they just stand by and waits until you jump up and strikes you without fail. This allows for no room for you to do anything different. If there's nothing under the feet, that's fine, but if that's a spike pit, you are automatically stunned into the spike pit, also without fail.
5. Enemies should not wait around the same location where you have gone up or down to a different elevation level until you come back. They should not do that and have an attack ready when you land right in front of them. There should be some resetting of the aggro when you have moved away (out of line of sight).
6. I cried and wailed a lot in my videos whenever I came across a dark area that required me to light up the room. I just don't like these areas, no matter how appropriate they seem.
7. Please make the Bee that you need to talk to in the 2nd area more easily approachable. I almost gave up playing at this point, fortunately a friend pointed me in the right direction. It was woefully difficult to approach and to talk to this NPC.
8. A few times my controller lost control of my character for some reason or other. I could pause the game and navigate the menu, but I could not actually move my character sprite or perform any actions. This was really distressing with a Golem running around the same platform.

Anyway, I have a Let's Play series of this game (13 parts, not complete, but I also felt that continuing really wasn't going to show anyone anything new about the game at that point) that can be found here:

The Forbidden Arts is an indie project that tries to aspire to some works made by bigger teams, with its own flaws. It has plenty of solid platforming value, with some quality of life aspects that could be changed to help make the gameplay feel more smooth.

It's not great, but it's not bad. It has a lot of charm, and the developer has clearly put a ton of effort, time, and thought into the different aspects of the game. I would like to see it improve in the future.

Score: 6.5/10 on September 3, 2019.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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