1998 was a simpler time. Titanic was destroying box office records, Limp Bizkit were assaulting the mainstream and videogames were becoming a huge entertainment medium in their own right – Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 2 and Ocarina of Time all hitting in the same calendar year. While the above have been (or are being) remastered, one game thought lost to the depths of time has been released on Xbox One in 2018.
I’m talking, of course, about Forsaken – previously released on the original PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. Hardly a household name, Forsaken tells of a world ravaged by humanity’s persistence with science. After Earth is essentially nuked, leaving behind a desolate, charred remain, the human population flees to space. Bounty hunters, mercenaries and thrill-seekers alike converge on the planet in a bid to find treasure and settle old scores.
In order to do so, you’ll fly a hovercraft through tunnels, rooms, caves, and heavily guarded facilities to collect treasure and make your way to the end of each level. There is a time limit, as well as a scoreboard, and along the way you’ll be unleashing an arsenal of weapons on both other pilots and enemies such as tanks and drones that were left behind by the human race.
Where Forsaken differs from the majority of shooters is in its full 360-degree movement and combat system. Playing in first-person and meandering through narrow tunnels or strafing around boss enemies may sound like it would be cause for a headache or two, but for the most part Forsaken will ensure you’re not upside down – orienting your ship as appropriate. That isn’t to say the system is perfect – some areas produce a gust of wind that propel you through tunnels.
This can often lead to frustrating deaths as your ship ends up facing a wall, preventing the dodging of environmental hazards. Unfortunately, you’ll be facing a lot of walls (Forsaken takes place predominantly in indoor environments) and those walls aren’t pretty. In fact, Forsaken still looks as it did twenty years ago – textures are muddy, lighting and explosion effects are decidedly “old-fashioned” and the game’s reliance on a trance soundtrack make it feel like a game out of time in 2018.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the game’s crisper text, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re playing the original but with a smoother framerate (60FPS). With all that said, there is something undeniably exciting at the core of Forsaken. When you’re zipping through arenas, clearing out drone after drone, combat feels almost balletic – a dance of explosions that feels fluid and fast, all of this while the soundtrack keeps time.
With today’s modern additions such as leaderboards and online multiplayer for 16 players, Forsaken: Remastered’s 360-degree movement gives it something unique in today’s crowded shooter market. It might just be the resurgence needed for a game that didn’t get a chance to shine all those years ago.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.