F.I.S.T is a beautiful debut for TiGames and is overall, a very fun experience. The first aspect that grabbed my attention was the visuals and style. The game is set in a dystopian or futuristic world reminiscent of Blade Runner and, despite its grey nature, it’s beautiful. It’s a setting that feels familiar yet still interesting enough to explore.
The setting is further enhanced by the execution of the characters: featuring anthropomorphic animals as well as robots and drones to create this truly unique world that is reminiscent of Disney’s Zootopia. And, personally, these latter details are aspects that I particularly loved, especially being raised, gaming-wise, by an orange bandicoot and a purple dragon. However, this game doesn’t offer an explanation as to how this world came to be and is unapologetic in that regard, making this a confident experience in its visual execution.
F.I.S.T also embraces the era of the early Playstation through its gameplay. Not only does it include anthropomorphic characters, but it’s a platforming/fighting sidescroller. This is a genre that I welcome but is one that is rare nowadays, especially when it comes to current-gen consoles, so I’m delighted to say that this was a fun experience.
The game doesn’t feel restrictive from the structure it takes and actually feels nostalgic. The lack of restrictiveness comes from the areas having branching pathways that will either let the player progress or will lead them to health or other items. This addition not only helped when completing objectives, but it also made the areas feel expansive and like this was a world that has life in it. The various interactions with other characters further added to this, and each interaction had a purpose, either to give the players a new objective, more items or a new fighting skill, an aspect that is important to the game.
Since this is also a fighting game, new abilities can be earned along the way that contributes towards fighting moves designed around Rayton’s robotic arm. When it comes to fighting games, I always had trouble remembering the buttons for each combo move. However, in this case, I found the combos easy to learn and they were satisfying to pull off during a battle when executed correctly; smashing enemies with a giant robotic arm has never looked so beautiful or felt more satisfying than here!
Most importantly, controls are easy to pick up. F.I.S.T is happy to give players a tutorial but it’s short, ultimately allowing for players to learn the controls as they play through the first few minutes. And, as someone who learns visually rather than by words, I really enjoyed this style of tutoring. And, once again, the controls are easy to learn, so this style of tutorial doesn’t feel overwhelming; it fits in comfortably with the type of game that it is.
However, there are a couple of aspects that I found frustrating. While cutscenes can be skipped, actual in-game cutscenes can’t be and this was something that I thought was a strange choice, considering how far in gaming technology we’ve come. It made certain levels and areas tedious purely because I knew I’d have to sit through something that I had encountered numerous times. Another frustrating aspect was the carrot juice meter.
In the beginning, Rayton is given carrot juice, an item that replenishes health in this game. However, while Ray can pick up health items for quick healing, the carrot juice is an item that is always there with him and resets once the meter is empty. This means that, if the player uses it all up during a certain area, they have to wait for the meter to full up before it can be used again. While this is a very good system, the meter is a little slow to reset. Specifically, during big battles with numerous enemies, I would find myself using the carrot juice only for it to be empty and then struggling a short time later because it was empty, and I needed it to heal. While it can be down to my own experience, it’s still an issue that I found considering how easily accessible the rest of the game is for new players.
However, this pales in comparison to the overall game: F.I.S.T: Forged In Shadow Torch is a delightfully fun introduction to developers TiGames. Despite this being a sidescroller, the world within the game feels expansive and the graphics are gorgeous. The soundtrack is fantastic and feels nostalgic, while the gameplay itself is extremely fun to play with easy-to-learn controls.
Whilst I did find the decision to make the in-game cutscenes unskippable frustrating, and the health meter should take less time to reset, I ultimately loved this game. If you have not had a chance to play this yet, then I would highly recommend it, especially for players who grew up in the Playstation One/Playstation Two era, or platforming fans.