Developer: Bih Blue Bubble
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Big Blue Bubble
Genre: Action platformer
When I see a title that reminds me of another game, I admittedly start making assumptions. More of a good thing isn’t bad, but there is a risk that some elements might feel like a pale imitation instead of forging a new identity within the space. However, I’m happy to say that everything I assumed about developer Big Blue Bubble’s Foregone doesn’t do it justice. Instead, the adventure defied my expectations and provided an experience that felt entirely it’s own.
In Foregone, you play as a super-soldier known as an arbiter. Arbiters were created to protect Calagan, a city known for their immense scientific achievements. A rival city has tried to take Calagan’s technology, which has decimated its population. As the first arbiter, it’s up to you to stop any more destruction and get some questions answered along the way.
Foregone arms you with both a melee and long-range weapon. While there isn’t a huge variety in your arsenal, equipment does vary and suits multiple play styles. You can carry several different weapons giving you options to switch it up based on your needs. Melee weapons, in particular, differ most in range, speed, and combo execution. Some like the nunchucks and large sword have a bit of delay mid-combo and require some skill to be used effectively.
Long-range weapons auto-aim to the closest enemy. Typically this works well with the exception of some overhead enemies. It would have been nice if your long-ranged weapon accounted for this slightly as there is no manual aim. Once you get the hang of its limitations, it becomes easier to anticipate an enemy; it will and won’t lock onto. This weapon type also has limited ammo, but you can quickly restore it by using a melee weapon to defeat an enemy. It’s understandable forcing players to switch between the two types as having unlimited ammo would make quick work of all enemies on screen.
Along with ammo, from downed enemies, you’ll also receive gold, health, and crystals. Gold can be used to upgrade weapons at the hub. Weapons come in different shades of colors and relate to how many times they can be upgraded. Crystals can be used to unlock certain abilities and stats on your skill tree.
Teleports to the hub are used sparingly throughout regions. However, if you happen to die, you will lose all your gold and crystals obtained up until that point. It’s not a devastating loss like some roguelites, but it definitely puts some pressure on you to reach teleports to upgrade what you can before dying. It’s also possible to visit previous teleports throughout regions if you wish to gain easier gold and crystals or unlock previously missed secrets.
While Foregone has Metroidvania elements, a notable difference is there is little to no backtracking unless you wish it. Most levels are fairly straightforward and linear. Although future items you obtain will unlock secrets, these areas are by no means necessary to advance the main campaign. It is refreshing to have this option and keeps the gameplay mostly focused on action.
Foregone’s enemies commonly require you to use the dodge maneuver. This doubles as a slide and can send you zooming behind foes where they are most vulnerable. Once you have enemies’ attack patterns down, it becomes easier to get through encounters. At its best, this can make you feel like a speed demon as you frantically take out multiple enemies in a matter of seconds. At times though, these encounters can feel a bit rinse and repeat.
Don’t get me wrong, though; there is a decent amount of enemy variety with each area introducing new opponents. I particularly enjoyed fighting against heavy hitters and massive tank-like monsters. However, a few are simple palette-swapped tougher variations of previous enemies from before. It would have gone a long way to keeping the gameplay fresh if even a handful of enemies were added with more diverse attacks. That being said, there are some enjoyable and anxiety-producing moments as you desperately attempt to reach the next transport. These battles are best when there are swarms of enemies forcing you to constantly move and think quickly.
Bosses are a highlight of Foregone. All are huge and beautifully animated with multiple attacks to keep you on your feet. Earlier bosses are fairly eas,y, but they ramp up and require you to precisely time your doge and attacks. Many of these bosses seemed overwhelming at first, but I eventually came out on top with some patience, and many lost lives. Like other enemies in the game, I only wish there were more as they really helped with pacing against some repetitive moments.
To help aid your quest, there are abilities that you obtain from general traversal. One I found most useful was the health restoration, which I used liberally throughout my playthrough. There are also offensive and defensive abilities you can swap out and experiment with. Like ammo, to prevent you from spamming these abilities, you need to defeat enemies to regain your ability gauge. It would help if you also had a bit of time to effectively use some of them, which can be a challenge in more hectic areas but makes for more interesting gameplay.
My favorite part of Foregone is the beautiful environments and animations throughout. Levels are a mix of ancient abandoned civilizations contrasted with futuristic dystopian technology. The lighting and colors are absolutely gorgeous and extremely atmospheric. Almost every section of a level provides something new to look at with few repeating backgrounds. A lot of love and thought went into these designs. I constantly found myself stopping just to take in and enjoy the details of the surroundings.
Foregone offers some fast-paced, and at times, downright frantic gameplay moments providing a sense of accomplishment as you reach level transports or take out massive bosses. The adventure hits a few different high moments but does suffer from some repetitive design choices and enemy variety. Still, I’m left impressed with how Foregone took some chances on a heavily saturated genre and even managed to stand out through its beautiful level design and unique systems.
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