Foreclosed Review – Death Row, Fast Life
Developer: Antab Studio
Release Date: August 12, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Merge Games
How society views us and how we view ourselves tend to differ quite vastly. While we have our own individualities full of complexity and intricacy, much of society, especially a bureaucratic one, views many people as just numbers or points in a data set. So much so, that one’s identity becomes almost commodified to those with power. Foreclosed is a game that takes this concept and paints it over a dystopian futuristic society, where individualism and livelihoods are controlled by authority.
Foreclosed, developed by Antab Studio, is an action-adventure narrative set in a cyberpunk world. You play the role of Evan Kapnos, a man whose life has suddenly turned upside down, as his rights and liberties are taken from him.
In this world, each individual’s identity is controlled by the state from birth to death. Alongside the bankruptcy of his workplace, Evan’s identity was unexpectedly foreclosed and set to be auctioned off. It is up to you as Evan to find out why it was taken and how you can get your life back.
The beginning of the game is intense and fast-paced. Minutes into the introduction, you are being hunted down by agents, and you must find a way to escape death. It’s clear you must retaliate with action to get the answers you’re seeking. To overcome any obstacles in your way, the game implements both third-person shooting and stealth elements.
The action components mainly involve blasting enemies with your gun, which happens to contain unlimited ammo. Over time, you acquire experience points used to upgrade your gun, unlocking additional effects, such as your bullets breaking through helmets or exploding upon impact. Alongside gun upgrades, you can access a skill tree of extraordinary abilities, such as psycho-kinetically throwing surrounding items at your enemies.
Though combat is swift and dynamic, the controls and aim aren’t user-friendly. For precision, it never felt like I was aiming properly at the opponents, and it was hard to tell where they got hit. Oddly enough, despite how great the game looks, the gun-fighting animation doesn’t do the presentation any favors. You don’t see or feel the impact upon killing an enemy, which ultimately dampens the intensity.
Alongside that, your gun and abilities are attached to the implants in your neural system. If you use your abilities excessively, you will overheat and take a moment to recollect yourself. The mechanic itself is fine, but the overheating meter never seemed consistent, causing some moments to be more frustrating than I would have liked. Regardless, it felt great to dodge-roll throughout the levels and takedown a whole mob of assailants.
Outside of the action, you also have areas where you must be stealthy to avoid being detected. Though they aren’t complex by any means, they do add to the tension wonderfully. Rather than shooting some enemies, you can sneak up behind them to perform a stealth kill.
As a fun aside, I appreciated the detail in how the game has you approach these kills. Rather than silently choking them out, you use your implants to control their mind and shut their brain off. It’s a small design choice, but it does well to represent the game’s futuristic motifs.
Speaking of design, the aesthetics and presentation for Foreclosed are phenomenal. The muted colors of the grungy world are complemented by neon accents that make the visuals pop. In addition, the environments are dynamic as they have a great sense of lighting and shadows.
The entire world Foreclosed is trying to build is well-detailed. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but there are some creative choices that enrich the themes present in the narrative. For example, as you are trapped under the oppressive grip of the powers above, the developers made the industrious city feel claustrophobic with barriers and closed spaces.
Because the game is presented in a comic book style, you feel like a protagonist in a superhero story. The game feels like an interactive graphic novel from the comic panel perspectives to the colored texts of the sound effects. I was thoroughly impressed with how seamless the transitions were from gameplay to cutscene. You’re able to move through cutscenes and get different camera perspectives like you would in an actual comic book. It felt smooth and helped the pace and immersion significantly.
What unfortunately breaks this immersion is the script and dialogue of the narrative. The plot is full of clichès, but I was willing to look past it given the unique presentation for the game. Yet, it was hard for me not to wince at the lines spoken by the characters, particularly from Evan. It’s unclear if the dev team intentionally made the dialogue incredibly cheesy, but either way, it was full of typical tropes and lines that you would see in a late 90’s sci-fi action film.
It doesn’t help that the voice acting for the characters is tacky, as they sound unnatural and exaggerated. Evan himself sounds like someone who was told to enunciate every other word in his lines. If Antab Studio was aiming for these overused and typical tropes, then they succeeded. It just wasn’t my cup of tea as I found plenty of serious scenes more humorous rather than gripping.
Foreclosed excels in world-building and presentation. The graphics and stylistic choices of a comic book frame the narrative and its structure. Though the brightness of the neon lights are strewn throughout the city, this dystopian world is rather dark. It’s a shame the game is only a few hours long, making it more of a cinematic experience. Despite its shortcomings with control and narrative, I still had a lot of fun trying to get Evan’s life back from the authority above.
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