The year is 21XX. Roving gangs of cyberpunk video games roam the wasteland, traveling from city to city and trying to entice gamers to try them out. They’re dime a dozen, but some of them manage to hit their mark through some unique gimmick or trait. The rest, though, are forced to fend for themselves in an uncaring society, offering nothing new and never trying to break free of their intended fate. Unfortunately, it’s to this latter gang that Foreclosed, a cyberpunk third-person shooter, belongs. Its marketing promises Deus Ex meets Max Payne, but it never hits the level of quality either franchise has enjoyed in the past.
Foreclosed Is Telling A Garbled, Boring Story
As Foreclosed opens (no pun intended), we’re placed in the futuristic cyber-shoes of Evan Kapnos. His identity has been “foreclosed”, which means he’s got no job, no possessions, and nothing to stop cyber-corporations selling his identity for a profit. The fact that Kapnos’ identity has been stolen is apparent, although probably not in the intended way; he’s as boring and generic a blank slate as you’re ever likely to find in a game like this. He grunts, growls, and monosyllabically navigates his way through the world of Foreclosed, never stopping to give us any reason to root for him or care about his fate.
The narrative that subsequently unfolds as Kapnos flees his aggressors is garbled, confusing, and boring. Characters come and go, there’s some talk of human experimentation (as there always is in cyberpunk media), but the story is lacking a crucial element of grounding. Kapnos should be our way into this world, but instead, he’s just another facet of an oblique and frustrating tale. The lack of a compelling narrative isn’t helped by the incredibly weak voice acting. At its best, the voiceover work is mediocre. At worst, it’s actively working to undermine the game, with laughable line deliveries and mispronounced words damaging immersion beyond repair.
When Foreclosed‘s story breaks the surface and becomes comprehensible for a moment, it’s clear we’re dealing with typical cyberpunk cliches. Uncaring massive corporations? Check. Augmentation and “science has gone too far” philosophizing? Check. Cowardly corporate types and sinister politicians hiding in glass-domed offices and offering deals? That’s a great big cyber-check. In some ways, it’s a mercy that Foreclosed has such an obscure story, because when the through-line does become apparent, you’ll wish it hadn’t.
Combat In Foreclosed Is Unbalanced And Weak
With no substantial narrative to present, Foreclosed must therefore fall back on its gameplay. At its core, this is a Max Payne-inspired third-person shooter. You’ve only got access to one gun, a pistol, although you can augment it to fire different kinds of bullets or increase its fire rate. There are also implant-triggered powers that unlock as you move through the campaign, although there are only a paltry six to choose from. Foreclosed struggles heavily with repetition; it doesn’t have many enemy types to offer, and since you’re using the same gun to take them all down, boredom quickly sets in.
It doesn’t help that Foreclosed doesn’t seem to have a grip on its own systems. Too much of the combat boils down simply to “wait”. There’s no health meter, so in order to get health back, you squat behind cover and wait. Your powers and weapon are limited by an overheating system, which momentarily forces you to relinquish control of your character if you let it fill up. Guess what you need to do to address this problem? Yep – wait. This wouldn’t be an issue if the AI was smart enough to flank you or take advantage of your immobility, but they never do. Every single firefight in Foreclosed can easily be won simply by waiting an agonizing amount of time.
In theory, the powers should spice things up, but they’re just as unbalanced as the core combat is. I could have sworn that some powers, like the health-regenerating orb that floats above an enemy, do absolutely nothing. Others, like the explosion you can trigger simply by pressing a single button, are completely overpowered and guarantee a kill (or two, or three, if enemies happen to be near your target). Since all you have to do is squat behind cover and wait for your overheat meter to recharge, it’s entirely possible to make it through a huge chunk of the game simply by spamming the explosion power and waiting. It’s tedious, but so is the standard mode of engagement in Foreclosed, so you’re not giving up much by “cheating” in this way.
Foreclosed Doesn’t Have Much New To Say
When Foreclosed isn’t being an utterly bog-standard shooter, it occasionally tries to dip its cyber-enhanced toe into the murky waters of the stealth genre. It doesn’t wear the change well. While the stealth sections are mercifully few and far between, one particularly infuriating segment has you searching for poorly communicated environmental items while dodging drones who will kill you in one hit if they spot you. The vision cones of said drones are badly telegraphed, leading to trial-and-error gameplay that completely destroys Foreclosed‘s pacing.
The only other thing you’ll do while you’re not engaging in combat in Foreclosed is explore your environment. There’s almost nothing to find in any of Foreclosed‘s levels other than XP caches, which never really feel useful because gaining new powers or upgrading your weapon doesn’t feel like it’s significantly augmenting your power. The usual genre staples of audio logs or text documents explaining story or lore elements are nowhere to be seen. Foreclosed is a linear shooter, but it feels aggressively boxed-in; there really is no reason whatsoever to deviate from the strict progression path it’s laid out for you.
Perhaps the kindest thing one can say about Foreclosed‘s linearity and frustrating diversions into ill-fitting genres is that the experience is over before these things become truly maddening. This is an extremely short experience, and although multiple endings are available, they’re so desperately unsatisfying that it’s far from worth replaying just to get to them. If you’re a huge fan of cyberpunk and you really are hurting for things to do, Foreclosed isn’t the worst possible way to spend your time, but it’s far from worth it for anyone but the most dedicated devotee of the genre.
Written by Joseph AllenOriginally published on TechRaptor