Forced is a one-to-four player co-op arcade adventure with puzzles and tactical elements developed by BetaDwarf, who funded the making of the game through a Kickstarter in 2012. The game is now in its third year of development and will be released on October 24th, 2013 on Steam and Wii-U, but I had the chance to preview the game through Steam Early Access.
Forced puts you in the place of slave who is left in a gladiator school to fight and attempt to win their freedom. To progress through the game, you must complete a series of trials. Once you have completed enough trials, you can then take on the big boss in order to move onto the next chamber and a new selection of challenges. Your spirit mentor, Balfus, is there to help you in your struggle, and is a vital part of solving many of the puzzles you face on your journey. The trials involve a combination of puzzle solving, enemy fighting, and elemental challenges. The enemies get progressively get harder throughout each level, so the time trial element of this game is also very important.
I am not used to gaming with a keyboard and mouse, but I found Forced really easy to pick up and play. At the beginning of each trial, you can customize your character and ability layout in order to prepare for the challenge ahead. Your main attack is hot-keyed to the left mouse button, and you can then choose your second attack, which is set to the right. After a few trials, you also unlock another slot for a special attack, which comes in very useful and is set to the Q key. This control layout is very uncomplicated, and so makes the whole gaming experience much easier! The game is also controller compatible, but I did not get a chance to try it out this way.
As well as choosing your abilities, you can also choose your weapon class before each trial. There are four classes: The Spirit Blades, The Volcanic Hammer, The Frost Shield, and The Storm Bow. Each weapon class is unique and has sixteen unlockable skills. When I was stuck on trials, I found it useful to go back and change the class I was using, as you can adapt your play style to different puzzles and enemies.
Balfus, The Spirit Mentor, is a major part of this game. You must work in unison with Balfus in order to solve the puzzles in each trial. You can call upon him and control his movement in the arena to activate shrines and other elemental objects in order to gain the advantage over your enemies. He can take on different forms and use special powers. These range from healing powers which benefit your character to transforming into a bomb to eliminate your enemies. He is also able to access areas of the arena that you are unable to get to.
Once you have completed each trial, you can then undergo further challenges to test your skills. This means that the game has a lot of replay value, as you can try the trials several times in different ways.. The challenges are not mandatory, but if you’re a completionist, then you’ll love going through and completing all the extra challenges!
I really enjoyed playing Forced, and I will definitely be playing it in the future. The game is hard in places but if you like a challenge, then I would highly recommend giving it a try. I found that some levels did take several attempts with different character classes in order to find a strategy that worked, but this might just be because I am not used to this type of game. Despite the game following the same format all the way through, it doesn’t get boring. The trials and enemies vary to keep you on your toes and interested in progressing further. The game looks great, is really compelling, and I look forward to trying the co-op mode properly, as I think this is where the game will really show its full potential.