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Foreclosed Review

Part comic book and part action game, does it scratch the popular cyberpunk itch?

Cyberpunk seems to be the flavour of the month, with the fun but flawed Microsoft exclusive The Ascent still cooling on the window sill. Now, Merge Games and Antab Studio have decided to throw their cyberphonic augmented hat in the ring with Foreclosed, a hybrid of a comic book-style visual novel and action RPG. Foreclosed’s presentation of its cyberpunk world is absolutely impeccable, but its undercooked thematic elements and fairly pedestrian action means this is one property acquisition that’s not exactly going to be the shining star of your portfolio.

I know I should read that foreclosure notice, but… Pleasure Dolls!

Foreclosed puts you in the future boots of Evan Kapnos, who has just woken up to the news that his identity has been ‘foreclosed’ (hey, that’s the name of the game!), meaning the company who owns his identity debt has gone bankrupt, and he is cut off from society and must surrender himself to the courts for processing. The game opens with a heap of promise, immediately packing an ultra-cool visual punch that plants the seed of belief that the mysteries of identity debt and foreclosure and how it’s integrated within the world will be revealed. Unfortunately, the story never really explores or explains the key concepts at the heart of its narrative (it’s never even made clear how identity debts really work), and what you get is a half-baked conspiracy plot headed by a protagonist who’s going for hard-boiled but ends up barely over easy. It isn’t helped by some questionable dialogue writing and hokey delivery across the board, or the odd inconsistency in how some of the jargon and place names are spelt and pronounced. Is it Blockchain or Block-chain? And hyphenated or not, what exactly is a BlockChain?

Gameplay-wise, Foreclosed mixes elements of stealth, action and light puzzling, and most of it is relatively serviceable if not revolutionary. Shooting bad dudes makes up the bulk of the actual gameplay, but occasionally you can choose to go in stealthily and fry their implants before they get a chance to raise their weapon. More often than not though you’ll be hunkering behind cover and using your Symbiotic Pistol, as well as making use of your augments that give you access to some abilities like telekinesis or summoning an orb which stuns enemies. As you progress through the game you’ll accrue experience that you can spend on some basic upgrades to your gun and new powers you can acquire. The gun upgrades don’t feel all too satisfying, with things like explosive and armour-piercing rounds being barely discernible from normal rounds. There are a handful of powers related to your augments that prove to be basically essential, such as the ability to lift enemies in the air and render them helpless, or slam them into the ground and stun them, making a lot of the others pretty superfluous.

Unfortunately, the story never really explores or explains the key concepts at the heart of its narrative (it’s never made clear how identity debts even really work), and what you get is a half-baked conspiracy plot headed by a protagonist who’s going for hard-boiled but ends up barely over easy.

Choices, choices. Or at least the illusion thereof

I will say that once I got my full arsenal up and running the combat was pretty enjoyable, but not exactly dynamic or varied enough to hold one’s interest for too long. Enemy AI is practically non-existent, and they will more often than not stand out in the open while unloading clip after clip. They also don’t react to dead bodies, so don’t worry if you stealthily kill their colleague Dave out in the open, as long as they don’t see you doing it then Dave’s passing will largely go unnoticed.

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When you’re not killing people, Foreclosed’s switch-flipping puzzle gameplay is unlikely to stress your own brain augments, but it works itself into the rhythm of the game well enough. Finding x amount of hidden nodes to power a door does become a little tedious towards the end, particularly when it’s mixed in with a fairly uninspiring instafail stealth section. However, it should be noted that Foreclosed is incredibly short, and in my case it was done and dusted in a single sitting of about four hours. This means that nothing about the gameplay is truly given enough time to wear out its welcome, and there’s a decent sense of flow and continuity as you move from section to section.

The thing that will draw anyone to Foreclosed is its art style, which is nothing short of masterful. The bold comic book style, the smooth monochromatic texture work and mixtures of oversaturated brights and moody cool colours give a simultaneous sense of both vibrance and sterility, suiting the cyberpunk feel to perfection. The way the perspective shifts as you move about the world is cool as hell too, and I was continually amazed at how well the developers integrated these sections into the moment-to-moment gameplay. Between the uber-stylish perspective transitions and onomatopoeic bursts of text it really nails the feel of an interactive visual novel. This is also elevated by the amazing soundtrack, which contains plenty of the pumping industrial sci-fi techno vibes you might expect, but also intersperses some beautiful mournful strings in the quieter moments. On a purely audiovisual level, Foreclosed is an utter triumph.

7 AM, waking up in the morning, gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs, gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal…

Final Thoughts

It’s a pity that Foreclosed doesn’t expound on its themes of transhumanism, or explain the nuances of its world’s setup, because it’s positively oozing with artistic flair. Such style demands a story and gameplay on par with it, but Foreclosed can’t really seal the deal in these aspects, and as such the debt collectors might have some trouble recouping their funds with this one.

Reviewed on Xbox Series X (Xbox One version played) // Review code supplied by publisher

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Foreclosed Review
It's Free Real Estate
Foreclosed features a masterful comic book art style and pumping sci-fi soundtrack, but its average action and failure to capitalise on its cyberpunk themes make it a hard sell.
The Good
The cyberpunk aesthetic is captured perfectly in an arresting comic book style
The soundtrack is bangin'
The core action has moments of fun
The Bad
Fails to develop its key narrative concepts
Dialogue and voice acting is overwhelmingly hokey
Combat lacks dynamism and variety
6
Has A Crack
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  • Antab Studio
  • Merge Games
  • PS4 / Xbox One / Nintendo Switch / PC
  • August 12, 2021

Foreclosed Review
It’s Free Real Estate
Foreclosed features a masterful comic book art style and pumping sci-fi soundtrack, but its average action and failure to capitalise on its cyberpunk themes make it a hard sell.
The Good
The cyberpunk aesthetic is captured perfectly in an arresting comic book style
The soundtrack is bangin’
The core action has moments of fun
The Bad
Fails to develop its key narrative concepts
Dialogue and voice acting is overwhelmingly hokey
Combat lacks dynamism and variety
6
Has A Crack
Written By Kieran Stockton

Kieran is a consummate troll and outspoken detractor of the Uncharted series. He once fought a bear in the Alaskan wilderness while on a spirit quest and has a PhD in organic synthetic chemistry XBL: Shadow0fTheDog PSN: H8_Kill_Destroy

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