The Forbidden Arts Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Stingbot Games

Published By: Stingbot Games

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you to Stingbot Games for providing a review code

With every passing day the Nintendo Switch library continued to add new games to its library. Many of these new titles fall into a beloved genre to many fans, the platformer genre. However, in a genre that’s slowly becoming more and more saturated, developers have to ensure that their title is able to diversify from the crowd. The Forbidden Arts blends 2D platforming & 3D exploration elements to create something that’s a little different from the average platformer. Unfortunately, it falls short of being as enjoyable as an average platformer.

Story

Your adventure begins with a boy named Phoenix. After having some visions, Phoenix attempts to seek out someone who can explain to him why they’re happening. When Phoenix finds someone that can explain his visions to him, he learns about the magic powers that lay dormant within him. Phoenix is a pyromancer a magician that can control fire. On a quest to master his magic abilities he sets out to learn more about how to use his powers, from the other magic users. What Phoenix doesn’t realize however, is that there’s nefarious acts going on that could have a great effect on the world. So, Phoneix’s journey to master his pyromancy skills and to save the world begins.

The story may sound somewhat interesting, but unfortunately it really isn’t. Everything about the plot is basic, and the weak dialogue between Phoenix and the other characters makes it even worse. Most of the characters you meet lack any defining personality traits, making them uninteresting to interact with. There are some voiced cutscenes as well, but the voice acting is mediocre at best. I feel bad to be this critical, but The Forbidden Arts is simply not going to attract players with its basic plot.

Gameplay

The Forbidden Arts is a 2D action platformer with 3D elements. Like many others in the genre each level will see you moving across traps and hazards, while defeating any enemies you come in contact with.

You’re armed with a small sword to battle with and your pyromancy skills. The combat is pretty basic as all you have to do is slash at enemies, until they’re defeated. Some enemies after receiving a few hits will become invincible for a few seconds and during this window they can launch an attack at you. When this happens, you can jump over their attack to dodge it or try and move away from the enemy.

As you continue your journey you will gain access to new pyromancy magic. At first you’ll start out with a meager fireball and then gain other skills like a shield to block projectiles, and a jump boost. Using your pyromancy skills will deplete your magic meter. Fear not, however, as you can replenish this by finding sources of fire scattered around each level.

The platforming is relatively simplistic and there’s not a whole lot to it. You have the ability to roll, double jump and also wall jump between two walls. There’s traps such as spinning blades that will try and stop you from progressing. Traps such as the spinning blades will deplete your health, but if you land inside a pit of spikes that will result in immediate death. Luckily checkpoints are fairly easy to come across so that’s one bonus.

The 3D elements come into play when navigating between levels. You get to travel to various different small hub worlds and enter the levels within them. You can also explore these hub worlds and the 2D levels for the game’s collectable, gold.

Gold can be found scattered throughout different areas of the game. Gold is used to rebuild temples in each of the 3D hub areas. Rebuilding temples will allow you to undertake a special challenge. Successfully completing a challenge will grant you an upgrade such as an increase to your maximum health. There’s tons of gold to collect and finding all of it will keep most occupied for some time.

From my description of the gameplay I’m sure Forbidden Arts sounds like a pretty average platformer. Well, I wish that was the case, but unfortunately many of The Forbidden Arts mechanics are poorly implemented.

The combat sounds simple in nature, but it works poorly. The hitboxes are wonky and it feels like attacks constantly aren’t connecting properly. There’s no skill to defeating enemies you simply slash at them and they die, or sometimes they’ll go invincible and you’ll have to dodge their attack. When trying to attack in the air, your attacks aren’t responsive, making it difficult to hit enemies. Your fireball spell which is your main projectile attack, takes a few seconds after pressing the button to launch, which is very frustrating. Many times I had pressed the button only for my fireball to be delayed and for me to be attacked by an enemy. Not to mention your other unlockable spells are quite basic, and lack creativity.

Sadly, Forbidden Arts platforming elements aren’t much better than the combat. Controlling Phoenix doesn’t feel tight. The controls feel too floaty and that’s a problem, because The Forbidden Arts tries to be a relatively challenging game. At first I really thought the issue was with me. However, as I continued to get further into the game, I realized there were some simply flawed design choices. When you get hit by an enemy you’re unable to jump for a few seconds, which in many cases will lead to your demise. Taking that along with many of the other problems that were previously mentioned and The Forbidden Arts loses its ability to entertain players. After 5 hours of playing The Forbidden Arts, I was left pretty frustrated by the game.

Presentation

The Forbidden Arts uses a relatively basic visual design. The 2D levels look alright, and there’s some differentiation between each of the different levels.

The 3D areas all have variety between them, but they’re put together in a very lackluster way. The assets look like they were all places around at random. The objects in each of these areas already don’t look great, but the placement of everything makes it all even worse.

The sound design was alright, but there wasn’t a whole of variety to it. It was one of the better parts of the game, but nothing superb.

Technical Issues.

I did not run into any significant frame rate issues or other issues during my playthrough of The Forbidden Arts. The game did run smoothly both in docked and in handheld mode.

Summary

Ultimately, I can’t recommend The Forbidden Arts to most players except for maybe the most passionate platforming fans. There’s a fair amount of content to go through here, and there’s sparks of enjoyment scattered throughout the game. Most of the time, however, I was left frustrated and disappointed by the game’s rough combat, mediocre platforming, and lackluster presentation. The Forbidden Arts is simply not what I hoped it was going to be.

4/10

Pros

  • Fair Amount of Content to Play Through
  • Rebuilding Temples & Special Challenges is a Cool Concept

Cons

  • Very Rough Combat Mechanics
  • Mediocre Platforming
  • Frustrating Design Choices
  • Uninteresting Story
  • Visual Design is Bland
  • 3D Environments Look Thoughtlessly Put Together
  • General Lack of Polish

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