Cyberpunk anything has become a much-used theme of a lot of creative projects over the course of the past few years. A future in which corporate technology governs most of our lives and privacy is a fallacy is not really all that far-fetched these days. Foreclosed is such a venture as well, but it delves deep into a theme not often toyed with so heavily in the idea of a dystopian corporate-run future: identity. This often comic book-style narrative tells an interesting story of a fellow fighting for his own identity, and even if the gameplay doesn’t quite always live up to the narrative, it’s still an interesting tale of revenge and personal freedom.
Repo turned deadly
FORECLOSED is 𝗢𝗨𝗧 𝗡𝗢𝗪!— Merge Games (@MergeGamesLtd) August 12, 2021
Step into a slick cyberpunk world filled with action, suspense & experimental augmentations.
Available now on #Switch, #PS4, #PS5, #XboxOne, #XboxSeriesX, #XboxSeriesS, #Steam, #Epic & #Stadia@AntabStudio pic.twitter.com/IBeEXhWzKs
Foreclosed opens on the story of Evan Kapnos: An employee of a company called Securtech which has just suddenly gone bankrupt, leaving the company up for auction. As his ID is an asset of that company and therefore also up for auction, he sets out to go to the court for the hearing on possession of said ID. That’s when strangers attack and open fire on Kapnos forcing him to flee with the help of a supporting outsider that eventually identifies herself as Dalia Kahri, the founder of Securtech.
Kahri informs Kapnos that the reason he is being hunted is because his ID chip has been modified with experimental firmware, a capital crime in this society. Several forces are at work to either get the firmware out of him by force for their own means or simply violently erase him from existence so his firmware can’t disrupt the strict order of this city. Fortunately for Kapnos, the firmware within his ID circuitry is built for combat and capable of evolving as it experiences situations through him. That gives Kapnos a fighting chance against his pursuers and, with Dalia’s help, he goes on a run of vengeance to free himself from this chaotic situation he has been thrust into.
Foreclosed’s presentation is easily the coolest thing about it. Much of the game’s story plays out in an animated comic book style in which panels present the narrative and players even interact as Kapnos within them, moving things along. When not presented in panels, the game still uses a number of stylistic perspectives that are occasionally behind Kapnos in a third-person shooter style, as well as in top-down and isometric style as the story dictates. It reminds me of the Max Payne series in a lot of good ways, but with an interesting cyberpunk premise to go with it.
There are even narrative choices along the way that can affect the outcome of the story, though not much more than the last choice seems to truly make a difference. The rest is mostly fluff for information and exposition about the world in which we’re playing. It’s also worth mentioning that a few different narratives trail off and never seem to play out. One part had a guy telling Kapnos a favor would be owed after the fellow helped him while another gave me a narrative choice to kill or simply hurt a would-be assassin. I’m not sure if Foreclosed was setting up for a sequel or what with these because it felt like these two plot points in particular never came back by the game’s credits in an otherwise passable story with interesting concepts. Moreover, it has decent voice-acting and the kind of score you'd expect out of an action and narrative driven cyberpunk game to help deliver the mood.
Wrestling for control
As mentioned above, much of the gameplay of Foreclosed is in a third-person shooter style. Not only does Kapnos’ evolving firmware grant him access to abilities that allow him to mess up enemies or defend himself, but he always eventually gets his hands on a special gun that links up that firmware and can be similarly upgraded with unique traits. Much of the game’s action plays out as a cover shooter in which you must navigate rooms of enemies, taking them out with a mix of gunfire and cybernetic abilities.
If they don’t see you before you see them, you can stealthily fry their ID tech and kill them off one by one before the fight ever begins. However, you’ll also unlock skills like the abillity to telekinetically lift and throw objects or even enemies, empower your bullets to shred shields and armor, or release area-of-effect blasts from your body. The main limitation is that as you use abilities and gunfire (especially empowered gunfire), Kapnos’ own cybernetics will heat up, temporarily disabling him if they overheat.
Despite all these offerings, combat feels mostly janky in Foreclosed. The gunfire does not feel good, the cover feels flimsy, and enemies are mostly a blend of uninteresting unarmored, armored, and/or energy shielded foes. Shooting kicks heavily and even more so if you add abilities to it. Meanwhile, some abilities dang near overheat your cybernetics in one use, forcing you to take cover till you cooldown. Bizarrely, there’s a shield ability that does this and by the time you cool down, the shield dissipates, making the ability feel useless to me. The telekinetic abilities feel pretty good, if not a bit overpowered because you can lift opponents at will and effectively remove them from the fight until you’re ready to deal with them and without overheating too much. The rest of the combat just feels humdrum when not frustrating.
Fortunately, the game has a mostly reliable checkpoint system should you die. I say mostly reliable because there are some parts where it feels cruel. Foreclosed has a few stealth sections where you are tasked with making your way around foes without being seen. In most cases, failing to stay unseen just means you enter into combat at a slight disadvantage, but there’s one part where you have to skirt surveillance drones and can’t be seen at all. Being seen sends you back to the checkpoint and it feel like the longest stretch for a checkpoint in the entire game. There are a few other sections with long periods before new checkpoints, but this one was easily the most frustrating.
It’s tough being yourself
Foreclosed is, at the very least, interesting in both its exploration of identity in a cyberpunk setting and its comic book style presentation throughout. It’s not an incredibly long game and can be beaten in a few hours, but the narrative flows well. The combat and stealth? Not so much. It’s not so busted that I couldn’t fight my way through to see how the story goes and the telekinesis abilities really felt better than any other form of combat, but the gunplay and the enemies you have to contend with in Foreclosed just feel half-baked.
I also wish some narrative sections played out to their end and the choices mattered a bit more, but Foreclosed tells its story and gets out. I can’t fault it for not overstaying. If you want a snappy cyberpunk adventure it might be worth seeing how the story of Evan Kapnos and his fight for his own identity play out. Just be prepared to deal with some average and occasionally frustrating gameplay all along the way.
This review is based on a digital PC copy provided by the publisher. Foreclosed is available as of August 12, 2021 on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia, and PC via Steam and Epic Games Store.
- Interesting cyberpunk story on an seldom-tread concept
- Comic book presentation is well-used
- Art style fits the above bits quite well
- Telekinesis abilities make combat much more bearable
- Gunplay is janky and frustrating
- Abilities are hugely limited by overheat feature
- Stealth sections can be horribly frustrating
- Choices are mostly hollow
- Some plot points never pay off
- Enemies are bland and uninteresting