A classic game once thought forsaken has returned to our screens.
Today, we’re a bit spoiled for choice when it comes to six-degrees-of-freedom shooters. Starting off with Descent in the mid-1990’s, the only other serious contender for the 6DOF crown was Forsaken back in 1998. Despite being a solid game in its own right, it was a victim of timing and marketing, when the craze had died down and the gaming world was in a collective coma trying to process Half-Life. For two decades it has languished in limbo, and now finally Forsaken Remastered has been released into the wild for modern systems. Does this remaster do it justice, and is it as good as we remember?
The game has players take on the role of a number of bounty hunters riding fancy hover vehicles in a futuristic Earth devastated by the effects of a fusion experiment gone horribly wrong. Humanity’s government, the ruling
Republican Party imperial theocracy, has declared the planet a lawless zone which anybody may plunder and raid with impunity. This attracts the attention of all sorts of shady characters as they attempt to line their coffers whilst dealing with the half-functioning, booby-trapped facilities that still remain scattered around the world. And they have their eyes on one another, too.
Understanding the gravity of the situation. Or lack thereof.
Forsaken sees players move about a three-dimensional maze where gravity is non-existent. Paths may be above or below, and there are many times where “up” and “down” cease to have any real meaning. And players of both the original PC version and the N64 counterpart will be absolutely delighted to see their favorite levels make a return. These environments are cold and mechanical, with hints of decay and grime taking their toll. Despite some visual improvements, it’s still straight of the 90’s with muddy, low-res textures. You’ll find these lo-fi rooms and corridors populated with hostile machinery, such as turrets and tanks. These often take a fair bit of fire to bring down, though other hovering enemies are by far the most difficult of the lot; these chaps strafe and dodge your fire like a flea on Red Bull.
Fortunately, you’re well-prepared to take on the robotic drones and the occasional fellow bounty hunter (who you can play as once you defeat them, and inherit their stats). There’s a beefy arsenal at your disposal, which is both colorful and incredibly satisfying to use. It’s way too much fun to spray enemies with a shower of plasma shots, or hammer them with a rapid-fire attachment for your missiles. Upgrades and powerups are in abundance, as is ammo, meaning you seldom need to worry about easing your trigger finger.
Either way, you’re likely going to die, and die fairly often. Enemies pack a wallop and they respawn sometimes when you least expect it. Fortunately, your items are dropped upon death and may be retrieved again once you appear at the last checkpoint. And checkpoints are a great thing, because these levels can be incredibly maze-like. Much like Descent and other 90’s shooters, levels are complex and labyrinthine. Expect to hunt down keys, locate strange switches, and bump into hidden passageways a lot.
Shooting smart AIs is fun and all, but it’s definitely more fun to take on Forsaken‘s mazes with a so-called friend breathing down your neck. Deathmatch is back and accounted for, and I can honestly verify that 6DOF games of hide-and-seek are insanely fun. The only downside is the lack of bots, especially considering the fact that this package includes levels material from the N64 release, which had bots. Bots would have been great as a chance to sharpen your skills or just to fill out online matches, but alas, they’re not here. Perhaps a future release will see them re-implemented, or maybe it’ll be up to the fans once more to scratch that itch. Either way, their absence is tangible.
It’s always great when an underrated classic is rescued from limbo and given a second chance at life. Forsaken Remastered does justice to this Descent clone by not only releasing it on modern systems, but also adding additional content and fixes. It’s a bit lo-fi, and the maze-trawling with tough enemies won’t appeal to everyone, but if you fancy yourself a 6DOF shooter fan, then getting this one is a no-brainer. It was easily the best contemporary contender to Descent, and it remains so even today. Fly on over here to add it to your library now.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (Steam, GOG), Xbox One. ; Reviewed on: PC. ; Publisher: Nightdive Studios ; Developer: Nightdive Studios, Probe Entertainment, Iguana Entertainment ; Players: single-player, online multiplayer ; Released: the 31st of July, 2018.
Full discloure: this review is based on a Steam key for Forsaken Remastered purchased by the reviewer.