Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Foregone is an early access, side-scrolling, pixelated action game, akin to something like a Metroid or Castlevainia.   In my short time playing it I can safely say that it never reaches the highs or lows of the genre, but just ends up feeling like yet another one of “those” kinds of games, that’s totally serviceable.

Foregone wastes no time before hurling you into the action, giving you mere sentences of story before letting you loose in the world.  The first thing that struck me was how good the game looks.  From character and world design, down to individual animations, Foregone is a good looking game.  It reminds me of Dead Cells a lot in its visual design, and might even look better in some spots in my opinion.

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Not seconds after being impressed by its quick start and stunning visuals, I was confronted with what might be the biggest flaw that’s persistent throughout Foregone – playing it.  Foregone isn’t a bad game by any stretch, but everything feels mushier and less responsive than I’d like out of a game like this.  Everything in Foregone feels like it lacks any impact whatsoever.

Like I said, none of it feels outright bad, but the sheer act of attacking an enemy just feels hollow.  You can’t stagger enemies in the early stages, which leads to a lot of you just mashing the attack button until your enemy either dies or counterattacks you.  The core combat loop doesn’t just lack tactile feedback, but it’s kind of boring.  Every one on one encounter boils down to you just dodging behind an enemy that’s winding up an attack, and just mashing the attack button behind them until it’s over.

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What does help break that monotony up though is your secondary attacks, constant weapon drops and special abilities.   Along with your basic melee attack, you have a ranged weapon that starts off as a pistol, but in my short time with Foregone I ended up with a bow, pistol, shotgun and assault rifle that I could choose from.  These all have ammo restrictions that are pretty interestingly implemented too.  Every melee hit you land, grants you one bullet for your ranged weapon that maxes out at whatever the weapon dictates as its max.  So I can bank 13 bullets and expend them all on one enemy, but that means I’ll have to get in close to get my ranged abilities recharged.  It’s a smart system that encourages diversifying your play style.

You also have some magic abilities that I assume get more wild as you play more of the game.  In the first few minutes, you get both a dash that hurts enemies, as well as a manual healing ability.  The dash seemed to recharge on its own, but I couldn’t tell if the healing one did as well or if they were tied to certain health pickups.  Either way, I failed a lot before implementing these moves into my repertoire.

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What was also a pleasant surprise was the amount of loot drops I got within my first hour of play.  I got to snag a variety of melee weapons from daggers, claymores and shortswords, to various sets of armor, trinkets and the ranged weapons I mentioned earlier.  It allowed me to find a play style that suited me best, as early as possible in the game.

But all of these bits of praise don’t cover up the sudden difficulty spikes, lack of checkpoints, mushy controls and my biggest gripe with Foregone, the lack of feedback.  Now, when I say feedback, I don’t mean that I want the game to let me know how I’m doing or make me do a bunch of tutorials.  What I actually mean is that in Foregone, it’s incredibly easy to die to some bullshit.

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There are certain ranged enemies who utilize their own guns, who under normal circumstances can be dodged fairly easily.  The problem is when you come across an enemy with a minigun or some sort of turret.  They can hit you multiple times very quickly, draining your health in an instant.  In other games you would be very aware of these events, but in Foregone, there are very little indicators that you’re being peppered to death by some off screen enemy until the screen goes red and it’s too late.  In addition to that, there aren’t any invincibility frames that you might get in other games, so each bullet is hitting you and giving you no opportunity to escape.

And that’s kind of the underlying theme of Foregone.  You will die to things you can’t even see sometimes, and your only path of recourse is to trial and error your way through levels, memorizing enemy placements.  A lot of people might find this loop rewarding in other games like Dark Souls, but at least in that series the combat feels good and responsive.

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Take note of the enemy with a minigun, hidden behind a wall, actively killing me.

Most of my complaints with Foregone comes down to mechanical and control issues that could be ironed out over the course of early access.  But it’s still lacking some basic functions like being able to do an upward slash to attack enemies on the ceiling, or downward attacks for those below you.  Combat doesn’t feel great as is, and on top of that, your moves are limited.

There’s a lot to like about Foregone, but there’s a ton of room for improvement too.  I like that it’s a visually striking game that doesn’t waste your time, and is constantly feeding you new items and abilities.  I just think it’s mechanically flawed, making it pretty laborious to play, especially when there are so many other games that are doing what Foregone does, but better.  Hopefully these issues are ironed out before Foregone makes it’s full release in the future.

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