Game: The Forbidden Arts
Genre: Action / Adventure
System: Switch & Steam
Developer/ Publisher: Stingbot Games
Age Rating: EU: 16+| USA: T (Teen)
Price: €14.99| £11.79| $14.99
Release Date: 7th August 2019
Thanks to Stingbot for kindly providing a review code!
Phoenix has a vision and awakens his latent ability to control fire. He embarks on a journey to prove his worth as a pyromancer but discovers many evils and truths along the way.
Off Into The World
The game world is split into sections, each is a 3D hub where you enter the games 2D stages, interact with various characters and also restore the mysterious shrines using gold found hidden across the whole game. It’s bright, it’s colourful, and it often invites you to explore every inch to solve the little puzzles within and to collect gold. They do somewhat highlight the games limitations as they are quite simple and cosy, but they serve their function and are in fact a charming go between.
The levels themselves see you explore larger 2D sections. You typically move from left to right, but then you can jump up walls and generally do what you can to explore every inch to make your way to the finish and hopefully collect gold on your way. The stage design increases in complexity well, and invites you to be thorough.
You will encounter many enemies along the way, but especially early on, they are quite simple to dodge and avoid altogether which is a shame. The combat is functional by all means, if not a little simple. You can swipe with your daggers or employ your powerful but limited fire abilities. Movement is a little slow, often clumsy and can be limiting as enemies recoiling and staggering require you to also retreat as attacking not only won’t deal damage, but leave you open to damage yourself. It’s easy to adapt and overcome, but I can’t help but be a little disappointed by the lack of fluid combat in a game starring a ninja-like character.
Life As A Pyromancer
The games story is a fine little tale of Phoenix’ exploring the world and developing his fire abilities. As you progress you meet many characters who will point you in the right direction and by doing so you will increase your repertoire and discover that an old enemy to the world is due to return to cause further havoc. The overarching story is a simple, somewhat predictable tale. But the NPC’s are charming, and though there is no full voiced dialogue, the use of some audible voice clips is nice. Characters are often more than they appear, and the way you learn new abilities from each of your fights is a nice way of doing things.
Again I would like to highlight how nice the game looks. One thing that was glaringly obvious however is that the hubs between stages are not as large or expansive as trailers suggested. The graphics in fact are a lot simpler which rubbed my the wrong way as I played. Despite this however, the 2D stages are full of shine and polish. Each world has a unique theme, design, and you’ll see the cutscenes take place in this environment which are well choreographed and tie in with the games charm.
A Small Problem…
I hate to say this, as I have been sure to stress the merits the game has. But it simply didn’t land for me. Despite it’s otherwise fine visual design, the way it plays and the combat, which I would consider key elements to the genre, just feel unpolished. As much as I persevered with the game, we just weren’t clicking and it’s a real shame.
I encourage anyone interested in the way it looks or the story to still give it a chance and come to their own conclusions. But sadly we weren’t meant to be!