F.I.S.T: Forged In Shadow Torch – Mech Rabbits Meet Metroidvania
F.I.S.T. – Forged in Shadow Torch, is a new Metroidvania from TiGames. Taking place in the diesel-punk world of Torch City, the Furtizens live under the control of the mechanical Iron Legion. Rayton, a rabbit and war vet who piloted a giant mech against the Iron Legion, now just wants to live his life in peace. However, destiny has other plans for Rayton, who must wield the fist of his old mech after his best friend is taken prisoner, starting him on the path to be the hero that Torch City needs.
First off I just want to say F.I.S.T. is a great looking game. While the game itself is a 2D side-scroller, the backgrounds are so detailed and gorgeous. The mesh of traditional Chinese stylings with Dieselpunk works wonderfully and really helps to bring the world to life. When you combine these backgrounds with the awesome looking character models you get a game that really helps to draw you into the world that Rayton and Co. inhabit. The only issue that threw me off slightly was lip-syncing. Of course, with a game being made in Shanghai by Chinese developers the animations are going to accommodate the Chinese language. I do not begrudge them that and it is only a small issue in the grand scheme of things.
As you make your way through the different areas of Torch City you will unlock new combos and special moves from the terminals that act as save points throughout the world. The combat is easy to get the hang of but will take time to really master it, especially further into the game where you have different weapon attachments that you can switch between mid-combo for added effects. What I wish I had known before finishing the game was that by undertaking training I could unlock more powerful versions of the moves I had already unlocked. These may have made some of the later boss fights a lot more manageable.
This brings me to the one major issue I have with F.I.S.T. The difficulty spikes for the boss encounters are incredible. My official time playing the game is around 15 hours, but I would estimate that I am closer to 18 when you factor in the amount of failed attempts to beat different bosses. I am assuming the clock does not take into account the time spent fighting and dying multiple times. While there is definitely a part of me that cheered with joy after finally beating a tough boss, there were also many times where I had to put the controller down and walk away to preserve my sanity.
Fortunately, the Devs recognised that a lot of people were finding these boss encounters incredibly difficult and added an easy mode in a patch that was released while I was playing for this review. At the point where I discovered there was now an easy mode I was very near the end and facing off against a robotic Sumo that would ruin me every time. I tried to beat him at least 25 times and was about the give up and admit defeat when I realised that there was now an easy mode available. I’m not going to lie, I switched it to easy then and there and beat the bastard on the first attempt. I do think the easy mode rendered the game a bit too easy, and if there was an option for a middle of the road it would have been challenging without wanting me to throw my controller in rage.
As you traverse the different environments you will find several different power-ups and collectibles. Most of these show up on the map so if you cannot get to it when you first find it you will be able to backtrack when you have the required equipment/ability. However, for reasons I do not understand, two specific collectibles, posters and vinyl records, do not appear on the map. While I have found some posters when back-tracking and exploring previously closed off pathways they are not always easy to find. One specific poster I ran past multiple times before realising it was a collectible. To date, I have not found one vinyl record during my time playing, and I have no idea where to even start looking for them. In a game as big as F.I.S.T. is, to go back and check everywhere would take far more time than I have to spare.
The hard part with the power-ups and collectibles is that there is no counter or stats in the menus to give you a clue to how many you still have to find. I might only have one poster left to find, or I might have five. You don’t know, and with the collectibles mentioned above not showing up on the map, if you want that platinum trophy you will really have to work for it.
Lastly, I just want to comment on the ending of the game. After everything that I had been through with Rayton, the triumphs and rage-quits included, I wanted more from the ending. The cutscene after the final battle is very short, and it fails to really provide any closure to the story that you have experienced. The post-credits cutscene also leaves you with more questions than answers. Up until this point, the story was great. While there were some cliche moments the narrative had me engaged and paying attention to what was happening. It is a shame that the ending left me feeling so flat.
While it is not perfect, F.I.S.T. is a game that had me hooked from the start. Whether it is exploring the world or trying to survive challenging boss fights, the game kept me coming back for more. The balance between the difficulty of the general gameplay and the boss fights is one of the things that may have put off players from seeing F.I.S.T. out to the end, but the inclusion of the easy mode means it is now accessible to a lot more people and a lot less risk of a controller being destroyed.
F.I.S.T was reviewed on the PS5 with code kindly supplied by the publisher.