Forced is a tactical arena co-op game that combines fighting opponents and solving puzzles by using a spirit mentor and each arena to your advantage. I was given a controller, although you can play with a keyboard and mouse, and played alongside one of the developers. We each picked from the four classes available that are based on what weapons you use — archer, dual daggers, shield, and hammer. Then we picked from eight active and eight passive abilities that change based on what class you are, with more unlocked from leveling up. We then entered the first arena with nothing but our weapons, our wits, and a floating spirit mentor.
The spirit mentor is an important part of the game with it being able to activate shrines in each level. Some of the shrines heal you, others turn the spirit into a bomb that you’ll need to blow up other parts of the arena, or it can turn off shrines that are leaking deadly poison. To control the spirit all you do is push a button and it flies directly towards you. Using the spirit efficiently was a lot of fun and challenging as we got into the right positions to call the spirit to us.
Combat took a bit getting used to as there is no targeting, and facing the right way is important. If you’re using the shield class, you automatically block when you’re facing your enemies, and I think the dual dagger class does more damage if you attack from behind the target. One of the archer abilities did more damage the longer I charged it up, and there’s even a combo point system with abilities getting stronger based on using other abilities. I wasn’t able to unlock all of the abilities, but even at level 3 combat was fast-paced and I could see how the classes could use skills to work together effectively.
You can play by yourself or with up to four people with the puzzles changing based on how many people you’re with. You can play the campaign mode, which is about 14 hours of playtime, or you can take on the strongest foes in endless mode. There is no loot to collect and the levels you earn stay with you from game to game. There are optional achievements you can earn, such as completing the level within a certain time or killing enemies in specific ways. The developer I talked to described Forced as an arcade role-playing game.
I like Forced a lot. There are enemies to smash, but it also has puzzles to solve. You can win the game by yourself, but playing with others opens up a lot of strategy. It combines genres that makes it difficult to describe, but fun to play.
Forced is available now on Steam Early Access for Windows, OS X, and Linux for $11.99 or $35.99 for a four-pack, bringing the price down to $9 each.