F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: TiGames
Release Date: Sept. 7, 2021


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Review - 'F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch'

by Cody Medellin on May 16, 2022 @ 1:56 a.m. PDT

F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch is a dieselpunk-style action adventure featuring an anthropomorphic bunny wielding a huge, weaponized metal fist.

A few years ago, Sony started China Hero Project, an initiative to help indie developers in China bring their creations worldwide via the PlayStation platform. Impressive trailers have come out of that initiative, with a few being even more impressive once you discover how small the teams are. Some of those games are finally hitting the market, and while the aim was the PS4 and PS5, PC players get to reap those benefits as well. One of those big early titles is F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch.

The story takes place in Torch City, which can be best described as a fusion between an early- to mid-20th century Shanghai and dieselpunk aesthetics. It's a world occupied by anthropomorphic animals; several years ago, a group of robots and cyborgs known as the Machine Legion invaded and took over the city. You play the role of Rayton, a former soldier in the city's resistance that eventually gave up fighting and is seeking a normal life in that defeat. After his friend Urso gets arrested and is sent to a maximum-security prison, Rayton fights with the last piece of his old armor, an oversized mechanical arm.

What starts off as a simple rescue mission soon unravels into something much bigger. Just about every element you can think of is thrown in here, from involvement with organized crime lords to encounters with people long thought to be dead. There are plenty of twists and turns in the story, but it never feels like it's being overdone, and while the story is on the serious side, there is some levity in the conversations with the soldiers you're about to pulverize. It works.

The core gameplay mechanic mostly emulates that of a Metroidvania. You start with your fist, but you'll gain upgrades as you travel throughout the game world. The world is semi-open in that you can go wherever you want, but the only things stopping you are natural obstacles that require you to gain new moves or barriers that need the right tools to bypass. There are enemies aplenty and new areas to uncover, and that means loads of backtracking through previously discovered areas. The game supplies you with a map that fills in as you go, and there are several stations where you can recharge your health and other meters, but one thing you won't have to worry about is manually saving your progress. The game saves whenever something significant happens or you run across a recharge station.

One of the things that makes F.I.S.T. stand out from its genre contemporaries is the sense of scope. The actual biomes are large enough that it takes quite some time before you reach a spot that looks drastically different. What makes the game feel bigger are the numerous areas where you have open sky above you. The genre is often made with indoor areas with various rooms connected by corridors. Seeing you traverse prison camps and Torch City at night with no conceivable ceiling is enough to make things feel much bigger, and it is something that would be good to see in other Metroidvanias.

It also helps that the world is absolutely brimming with secrets to uncover. Just about everything is in plain sight, but the 3D perspective on the 2D planes might fool players into missing some narrow vertical passageways. Most of the secret areas tend to hide treasure chests, but some also hide meter upgrades. You'll also hunt for posters, and while that's more for cosmetics than anything useful, the poster references make it worth it.

The most notable thing about the gameplay is the combat which feels uncommon in the genre. The game is rather combo-heavy, with some moves coming close to what you'd find in some simple fighting games based on their combined use of directions and button presses. Launching enemies into the air and juggling them is also common, but the weapon switching is the real highlight. Switching weapons is as easy as pressing a button, and the switch is instantaneous, giving you more opportunities to chain your weapon types into one long combo — provided no other enemy knocks you out of it.

To that end, the process of getting upgrades does involve finding things lying around and adding them to your arsenal, but some characters also give you items or teach you new moves if you complete their side-quests or save them from harm. Taking a page from RPGs, the game also has a skill tree that can be filled in if you have enough coins and/or data discs to pay for the upgrade. The tree is rather elaborate due to the number of nodes present, giving you some freeform way of picking and choosing when you want certain abilities to pop up.

Backtracking, which is a staple of the genre, is alleviated somewhat by some fast-travel spots, but one might not like that they seem to be pretty few and far between. Enemy groups can get dense enough that you'll get juggled around if you let them get in a hit. Some who aren't that adept at combat might also find that combo trials require too much precision.

The audio in F.I.S.T. is quite excellent. The music doesn't fall into the trap of calling back to Chinese instruments due to the setting, but it remains perfect for the world, as it still evokes a sense of adventure and foreboding. The voice acting is also on point, with each actor matching up with their character nicely. That includes your hero, who tries to pull off a gruff Solid Snake impression and doesn't come off as a pale imitation.

Graphically, the game is mostly gorgeous. The environments show off a tremendous amount of detail, and while the use of RTX for Nvidia users isn't too intense, the little things look nice, like the reflections when you're in brass pipes. The character models look stunning thanks to the use of fur shading, but the mouth movements are hardly noticeable when anyone speaks. The animations are fluid when you're running and climbing, but there are moments during combat when it seems like those actions get chained together a little awkwardly. It's also noticeable when you're performing finishing moves, as the moves sometimes occur so quickly that you'll feel like you haven't seen anything when the camera cut happens. All of this happens at a very steady frame rate with no dips, while load times are almost nonexistent.

F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch may be an awkwardly named game, but it is also a solid Metroidvania title. The game may follow the genre blueprint faithfully, but the environments feel more than a series of corridors, since there are a number of open-air areas to traverse. The combat is fluid, and the movement tricks make you feel powerful very early in the game. The adventure flows by at a good pace, and the amount of secrets will keep you exploring each environment for quite some time. Genre fans and those who love a good 2D adventure will be happy with this title in their collection.

Score: 8.5/10

More articles about F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch
blog comments powered by Disqus