There’s been an abundance of Metroidvania games released in the last year or so, but only F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch lets you play as a rabbit with a giant robotic arm strapped to his back.
That fact alone should set the tone for this entertaining romp through a futuristic city inhabited by animals. But if you need more convincing there’s plenty to share. It’s just a shame that a couple of hours into F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch you’ll possibly have forgotten what you’re fighting for, or even really care. The narrative really isn’t the selling point of this sprawling adventure.
Still, you’ll probably want to know the gist of it, and it goes like this: a dastardly group known as the Machine Legion invaded Torch City some six years ago, and has now made it its home. While the residents of Torch City aren’t happy with the fact, they’ve largely resigned themselves to their fate. It’s when one of the friends of Rayton, a former resistance soldier, gets arrested, however, that he finally decides to take a stand. But he’ll need all the help, and weapons, he can get.
Despite his age, Rayton is quite an agile fellow – though it’s perhaps not too surprising given that he’s a rabbit. It’s not long into F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch that he’s reunited with his giant robotic arm, which also comes equipped with jet packs to enable him to quickly dash left and right. And soon after that, his movement options are bolstered even further by double jump and wall climbing upgrades. There are even more upgrades to make traversal more exciting further into the game, too.
Backed up by responsive controls, these traversal options make exploring F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch‘s world a pleasure. Well, mostly. There’s the full gamut of locations to battle your way through here – a prison, a mine, sewers; you name it, it’s probably got it. They all present various platforming challenges, but every once in a while you come across a section that’s particularly fiendish – an area filled with rotating platforms, bottomless pits, and an abundance of spikes springs to mind. It’s then that you’ll have to grit your teeth and simply try and try again. Thankfully the checkpoint system is fairly lenient if you mess up too many times.
The checkpoint system isn’t infallible though. While the majority of the time it’ll start you just a screen or so away, letting you carry on your journey without much of a hiccup, sometimes it will take you much further back. There’s seemingly no rhyme or reason to it, either. Still, at least the game autosaves after you’ve picked up collectibles and performed certain other actions, like unlocking a shortcut.
Of course, having a giant arm strapped to your back indicates that combat is somewhat inevitable in F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch. Both standard and heavy attacks are available, with a decent range of combos to unlock should you collect enough coins and Data Disks. You acquire two additional weapons as you progress through the game, too – a drill and a laser whip – and each has a unique ability. The drill, for example, allows you to move quickly underwater and gain height using gusts of air. The laser whip, on the other hand, allows you to make use of grapple points.
To further open up your combat options, special attacks can be unlocked and put to good use – but you can’t spam them due to their reliance on a gauge – and weakened enemies can sometimes be put down by a flashy execution attack. There are multiple items for you to acquire, too, also reliant on a gauge. Carrot Juice is basically the game’s equivalent of an Estus Flask, allowing you to restore your health with a swift drink, and other items include a missile launcher and a device that allows you to parry the next incoming attack with ease.
You do also acquire an upgrade that allows you to parry attacks without consuming an item, but it’s tricky. In fact, F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch‘s combat is tricky in general. One-on-one fights become a breeze once you’ve learned an enemy’s moveset, but when facing off against multiple opponents it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. You might have a couple of ranged enemies, one or two flying drones, and then numerous footsoldiers all vying for your blood, and if you don’t keep on your toes and prioritise your targets effectively, your health bar can take a real beating.
Things further step up a notch when you encounter the game’s bosses. They’re a varied bunch, and you might often die a few times before you’ve come up with a winning tactic. It doesn’t help that some of them bring in cronies at set points, forcing you to think on your feet as enemies attack from all sides. Some might get frustrated, but upon failure there’s always the option of going away to try and locate the odd upgrade or two. They really can turn the tide of battle around.
The odd gameplay issue aside, F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch is one of the most enjoyable Metroidvanias you can play right now. While you probably won’t care about its story, it’s easy to fall in love with the game’s detailed world and somewhat cute characters. It’s the thrilling combat and raft of collectibles and upgrades to find that will have you going back to it time and time again, however, keen to make Rayton the powerful hero he’s destined to be.
F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch Review – GameSpew’s Score