Foretales review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Developer: Dear Villagers
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Foretales is one of those games that are easier to admire than they are to like ? at least for me. It?s got a whole bunch of ideas, and it throws together genres in a way that you wouldn?t normally think of putting together, but I found the whole package a little overwhelming, if I?m being completely honest.

Of course, that?s not necessarily a strike against Foretales. In fact, that?s probably more a ?me? problem than a general problem with the game. In cases like this, I always try not allow my own lousiness at a game to interfere with judging whether most people will like it. And, from that perspective, I think there?s certainly something here worth investigating if you?re looking for something that?s a little different than usual.

Part of the challenge is trying to explain what, exactly, it is that Foretales does. Clearly, it?s a card-based RPG, since the whole story unfolds depending on how and where you play your cards. But getting into more detail than that can be a little difficult.

For one thing, you don?t have all that much control over your deck. The cards here are largely out of your control: there are certain cards available to you at any given time ? some actions, some resources ? and you can only figure out the order in which you want to play them. Since you don?t know what?s coming next or what?s available, it felt to me like this led to a lot of playing cards and hoping for the best: for example, do you want to use your fame or some food to open a new path, or do you want to save them for bribing guards in one of the many battles that you?ll come across this game? Without there being a clear route from Point A to Point B, those decisions can be agonizing ? and picking incorrectly can very quickly lead to disastrous results.

On top of that, Foretales doesn?t just have a Point A to Point B kind of story. The way the game unfolds is constantly evolving, with new scenarios becoming available depending on what?s happened so far. Right off the bat, for example, you can either help your friend escape from prison or help deal with labour unrest, and your choice will have huge downstream effects in terms of what you can and can?t do later on in the game. If you?re easily paralyzed by indecision, in other words, this may not be the game for you.

As you can tell, Foretales asks you to think strategically constantly. Some of this is on a turn-to-turn basis, but it goes into overdrive the second you get into one of the many battles that will mark your time with the game. You could, of course, simply run into battle and hope your cards will help you fight your way out, but that?s a terrible way to go about things. Instead, you need to figure out when to use your fame to awe enemies, or money or food to bribe them ? or when to allow things to escalate to a fight, obviously ? and every choice matters, and can very easily lead to bad consequences.

Which, I think, is why I disliked this game, and why I think many more people will love Foretales if the give it a chance. It?s an interesting take on a formula you?d think would be played out by now, done in a way that shows there?s life in the card-based genre yet.

Plug In Digital provided us with a Foretales Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B