In theory, Forge should appeal to both the MMO player looking for a quick fix of PVP that doesn't require constant grind and the action gamer looking for a class-based shooter more cerebral than Team Fortress 2 or Monday Night Combat. In practice, the former will be put off by the game's limited character customization and lack of context while the latter will either be completely left behind by the game's short, useless tutorial or frustrated by the unintuitive MMO mechanics and shoddy presentation.
On a technical level, Forge's graphics are competent, but the art direction is not only unappealing, it actually hampers the gameplay. The complete lack of faction colors is just the tip of that particular iceberg. The character models are drab, cluttered and difficult to make out at a distance. The maps are equally dull, lacking any kind of personality, logic or environmental story telling. One of them, a labyrinth bathed in glowing red light, is particularly grating. A few maps offer opportunity for some interesting vertical combat and wall-jumping, but for the most part the design is uninspired at best, downright confusing at worst.
The spell effects manage to be both obnoxious and uninformative at the same time. For example: The Pathfinder (ranger) can fire three or four different types of arrows. I'm sure one of them is supposed to be on fire, but they all look very similar. He can also set bombs which, when detonated, appear to release streams of spinach, leading me to believe he may in fact be some kind of highly aggressive nutritionist. The effects, particularly those for the bigger spells of the Pyromancer and Shaman, do a very poor job of conveying what's actually happening in gameplay terms, impressive when you consider one of those classes is based around the concept of setting people on fire. When combined with the game's drab color scheme and that weird, MMO-style, floaty animation, the on-screen action quickly becomes farcical, with characters skating around each other like they're appearing in some kind of fantastic GWAR-on-ice concert. The spotty performance on my slightly-higher-than-mid-range PC didn't help.
The lack of effective visual feedback will serve as the biggest irritant to action gamers. Forge. just doesn't feel particularly satisfying or even exciting. While there's fun to be had in outsmarting your opponents, the act of damaging them conveys ... nothing, particularly when you're using ranged attacks. Their health bar goes down and your resource bar goes up, but the action feels distant and abstract. You can play an entire round of Team Deathmatch feeling like you've contributed nothing to the team, only to find out you're at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the match. The game is highly competitive and beautifully balanced, but actually playing it feels like a chore.
There's a number of other, small, niggling problems with Forge, but I suspect a sizable amount of them are down to the fact the game is still in development. Forge has a ton of potential, and Dark Vale has promised has promised more content in the coming weeks, but as of right now, the game they're selling simply isn't good enough.
Bottom Line: Forge has some bright ideas, but they're buried under the rushed execution and unimaginative presentation.
Recommendation: If you're a hardcore MMO PVPer looking for pure competition, then Forge might be for you, given some time. Those who're just starting out in the genre will want to start with something more polished and approachable.
Developer: Digital Confectioners
Available from: Amazon(US)