Forced Review: Force Your Friends To Play With You
Any player can also control the spirit orb Balfus by pressing a button to have the orb fly directly to them. By passing through objects, Balfus can either activate or destroy them, depending on what they are. Passing through a health shrine will put a slowly shrinking circle that conveys regenerating health around Balfus, while passing him through an enemy spawner provides the sole method of destroying them.
Once again, it’s a pretty simple idea, but using Balfus as the main method to solve puzzles is actually pretty ingenious in a cooperative game, and the level design in Forced makes great use of this mechanic.
In one example, players must pass Balfus through a special shrine that turns him into a slow moving bomb that explodes on contact, and then must navigate him through narrow corridors to reach various statues placed at the other end of the level, all the while keeping enemies at bay. It’s incredibly intense and relies on good teamwork to have one person focus on navigating Balfus, while the others desperately try to keep enemies away from the bomb.
In another challenge, players must pass Balfus through a crystal 15 times while the crystal shoots an insta-death laser that sweeps in a circle around the whole room and tough enemies spawn to try and beat you out of safe zones. As great and as challenging as this level is when you’ve got a team of skilled friends to help you out, it also serves to highlight the biggest problem in Forced: the game is extremely poorly balanced for solo play.
Let’s say you’re playing with a group of friends. In the above example with the sweeping laser beam of death, if a player gets zapped by the laser, no big deal. The other player can just bide your time for 30 seconds or so and wait for them to respawn. This safety net allows for levels to be extremely challenging without ever becoming too frustrating.
Solo play has no safety net though. There are no checkpoints, no lives, and no continues. This gets extremely frustrating in levels — like the sweeping laser level — where the action doesn’t really get hard until the last part and dying means playing the entire level over again.
All of the mechanics that make Forced so fun to play in coop, also serve to make the game a chore to play as a solo player. The marking mechanic makes certain classes extremely tough to play in solo because their strength comes from being able to use powerful special attacks on already marked up enemies, or their strength comes from being able to quickly mark up enemies for other players to destroy with powerful special attacks.
Forced can be played online, but it’s not without its share of woes. I’ve had trouble actually joining a random public game, and when I do manage to get in, it’s often too laggy to be enjoyable. When I’ve set up my own game and invited a friend, my game as the host was relatively lag free, but I’d often hear complaints from my friends about issues they were having on their end. Perhaps this will be fixed down the road, but as of this review, it still has its issues.
I can’t stress enough how much fun Forced is when you’ve got even just one other player. It’s a smartly designed cooperative action game with lots of depth, great variety in its challenges, and a great combat system that encourages teamwork over all else. It’s a shame then that online play, at least at the time of this review, is too laggy for me to recommend, and playing solo is oftentimes more frustrating than fun.
- Fantastic cooperative experience
- Well-designed combat system that encourages teamwork over all else
- Clever puzzles that frequently introduce new ways to use your spirit orb Balfus
- Four distinct classes each with their own unique skill trees, with each class being fun to play in their own way
- Challenging secondary goals offer great rewards for players who are looking to master each arena
- Poorly balanced for solo players. No lives, no checkpoints, and no revives leads to lots of frustration
- Online play is super laggy, at least as of the writing of this review, and it can be tough to join random games
- Unremarkable story
Final Score: 80/100
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