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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Merge Games
Developer: Antab Studio
Release Date: Aug. 12, 2021


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PS4 Review - 'Foreclosed'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 12, 2021 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Foreclosed is a cyberpunk shooter where you dive into a comic book drenched aesthetic as you fight against the dehumanized bureaucracy that stole your identity!

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Foreclosed follows the story of Evan Kapnos, who lives in a dystopian world where everyone and everything is owned by a corporation. Unfortunately for him, he wakes up one day to discover that his employer has gone bankrupt, his identity has been foreclosed on, and he has a few hours to get to the courthouse and prove his identity before he becomes a permanent non-person. He barely steps out the door before assassins go after him, seemingly intent on capturing or destroying his bionic implants — implants that seem better than the standard model. Kapnos must find a way to rescue his identity before he loses it and his life.

The most interesting part of Foreclosed isn't the core storyline, which is the standard cyberpunk theme of "I didn't ask for this." It shines best when it investigates its horrifyingly depressing yet plausible setting. In the world of Foreclosed, everyone is given a cybernetic implant at birth that allows them to interact with the world. Without it, they're effectively crippled, so it isn't a choice. However, the government charges newborn infants for the installation, putting them into "identity debt" from the moment they're born. The rich and powerful can buy their way out of debt, while the poor are at the mercy of the corporation that purchases their debt. If someone call in your debt, they can effectively "unperson" you and destroy your identity at a whim. That is prime cyberpunk horror material, and when the game approaches it, the concept really shines. I wish the game had spent more time with that element, as it's a scenario that can spark a lot of really interesting ideas.

Foreclosed's gameplay is a standard stealth/action game. If you've played any in the past few years, especially obvious inspirations like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you'll know what to expect. It's a cover-based shooter where you can take down enemies with stealth kills or get into open firefights, depending on your preference. You have cybernetic implants that give you special powers and a symbiotic pistol that draws power from the implant. Using powers or weapons gradually overheats them, and you have to wait until they cool down or risk overheating, which stuns you for a few moments and is usually fatal.

Kapnos's implants can be customized by earning experience points, which are earned via combat, stealth or by finding hidden nodes in the environment. Get enough XP, and you can purchase a new power, such as armor-piercing bullets, creating a shield, explosions, locking down enemies, or telekinesis. There's a limited list of upgrades, so other than prioritizing what you want the most, you're not going to veer into different builds. It mostly depends on which set of powers you're going to use the most.

The combat in Foreclosed isn't very fun. The actual gunplay feels tremendously weightless, so shooting enemies anywhere besides the head feels like you're shooting a brick wall, even with upgraded weapons. The foes go down eventually, but it never feels like a natural part of combat. You can turn on gun mods that allow for bonus damage and effects, but in most cases, they lack a satisfying visual flourish or combat impact.

In theory, powers should make up for this, but they suffer from the same issue. Some feel unsatisfying or worthless, and others feel hilariously overpowered. Particularly absurd is the power that lets you briefly overload your implants to create an explosion that inflicts massive damage if it doesn't straight up kill a foe. This is basically the primary way to attack enemies, and it amounts to "cause explosion, hide behind cover until you recharge, and repeat." You should be throwing out various powers and skills, but I couldn't find a more efficient combination than a big boom.

It also doesn't help that you are ridiculously squishy. You regenerate health quickly, but even a few moments of sustained fire can bring you down. There are a few powers that are supposed to help with this, but I didn't find them to be useful. Mind Shield seems to overheat so quickly that it wasn't worth the bother; powers like this only encourage the "hide behind cover and use explosions" play style. This is impacted by the fact that the game's checkpoints are not very generous, so death can mean repeating multiple combats or even entire puzzles before you get back to where you died.

You can use stealth to move around, but it isn't much better. Your stealth options are limited and mostly amount to crouching behind enemies and using an "insta-kill" attack that requires button-mashing. The enemy AI isn't particularly bright, so the experience isn't engrossing, but it's easy enough to do. In some situations, it takes long enough that it's sometimes better to hop back to cover-explosion.

The story and setting make Foreclosed feel like a budget version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution with significantly less polish. It isn't that it's broken or buggy; I encountered a few glitches but nothing major. However, the actual minute-to-minute gameplay is shallow. The game is described as narrative-driven, but it probably would've been a better experience if it had gone for something akin to a Telltale Games offering instead of stapling a sub-par shooter on top.

The real star of the show in Foreclosed is its comic book styling. Similar to games like XIII, it goes all-in on being a playable comic book. Many scenes are framed like comic panels, and your character moves between them as the story progresses. Sound effects pop up on-screen, narration is delivered via comic book word bubbles, and so on. It lends the game a neat feel, especially with some solid visual design to back it up. However, the bulk of this is relegated to the game's cut scenes, and combat feels like a traditional shooter with cool visuals and shooty noises. The voice acting is largely good, but it leans so hard into the overwrought comic book style that it can sometimes feel too ridiculous. The entire game is designed to feel like a lost '90s comic book, and the music and voice acting really help to carry that vibe.

Foreclosed is an interesting idea that doesn't lean hard enough into its premise to succeed. The neat comic book styling and intriguing "identity theft made law" neo-noir setting give a strong first impression, but the core gameplay is tedious enough that it becomes a chore to get through to reach the more interesting bits. In the end, it feels like it squanders its potential, especially when it all but begs comparisons to similar games that offer the same ideas but are executed better.

Score: 6.5/10

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