All I see is red. My hands quiver over the keys and threaten to punch the lights out of my keyboard. There is a pounding in my ears and my heart, and a string of uncivilized words threaten to slip from my tongue. For the first time, I am experiencing it for real: game rage. That uncontrollable urge to swipe the laptop of the desk and break everything in sight. With that said, although it was the primary instigator of my temper tantrum, The Forbidden Arts by developer Stingbot Games is by no means a terrible game. It has perfectly decent graphic design and premise, with mystical creatures like elves, grifffins, and sorceresses. You play as the main character Phoenix, who journeys through an enchanted forest while battling peril and learning the seven forms of magic along the way. In addition, the mysterious villain Voltaire threatens the world with his powers of Necromancy. However, several factors prevented me from fully enjoying the game as much as I would like.
Now I will be the first to admit that I am by no means an expert, or even an intermediate gamer. I am used to often missing jumps and restarting levels and being repeatedly killed, and over time I have built up considerable patience for this. However, the controls in this game were especially challenging— maybe it is different for other game consoles, but for PC’s the placement of keyboard controls is awkward and not at all convenient. This makes it extremely hard to clear jumps and coordinate movements with fighting. Even worse, it takes about 10 seconds to respawn after dying, which quickly becomes very aggravating when you are dying multiple times in a row. This further discouraged me from playing because I could never get fully immersed in the game, but instead had to repeatedly return to the “restart or quit” menu. I think it would have been far better to simply respawn immediately and in the same place that you died, instead of resetting back to the previous saved point. I personally felt that I was repeating the same level over and over again instead of making any progress, which was disheartening.
On the other hand, an aspect of the game that I did appreciate was the magical training that you learn. In the very beginning of the game, you discover that you possess the potential to learn pyromancy, or fire powers. At first you master basic moves like shooting fire balls and refueling from nearby bonfires, but eventually you learn more complicated ones. As I mentioned previously, the keys are spaced all around the keyboard, so it is tricky to use your pyromancy when you actually need it for fighting enemies. However, I liked the extra element of magic and the gradual way you advance in your magical capabilities.
In conclusion, The Forbidden Arts is not for the faint of heart, and by that I mean people who are easily discouraged by repeated failure. To be honest, I often felt incompetent and frustrated when all I could seem to do was die, and part of that can be attributed to the controls of the game. However, The Forbidden Arts also challenges you to embrace a challenge and strive for success; it also lends an element of mystical fun with learning the seven forms of magic. If you can keep your head and your temper, this game can be a fun experience.
Here is The Forbidden Arts Steam Early Access Release Trailer:
The Forbidden Arts is available for PC via Steam Early Access.