F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch Review

Richard Walker

In F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch, you play as a rabbit named Rayton. But this is no adorable little bunny – Rayton is a grizzled veteran of a war against a mechanical enemy known as the 'Iron Dogs', and, years later, he's still part of a quiet resistance living under their rule. A broken bunny, Rayton speaks with a gruff, tired drawl, his best days seemingly behind him, until his closest friend, a rotund bear named Urso, is captured and imprisoned at the imposing Torch Tower. That's when you discover a piece of Rayton's past – an old fist from his wartime mech, still able to swing and smash enemies, albeit divorced from its gigantic frame and now strapped to the heroic lagomorph's back. So, to recap, you're a rabbit with a huge robotic fist attached to your back. We're off to a good start.


Meet Rayton - the long-eared fuzzy hero of F.I.S.T.

Predictably, your mission is first to liberate Urso from captivity, which takes the form of scaling the aforementioned tower in a side-scrolling 2.5D action-platforming adventure. This is but one part of a much larger game, of course, but it's at Torch Tower where you'll cut your carrot-chomping teeth, and learn how to bust gun-toting robo-enemies to pieces. Tasked with protecting the 'furtizens' of Torch City, you'll learn to get to grips with Rayton's formidable metal appendage, under the tutelage of a raccoon called Master Wu, who offers training dummies to pummel. And it turns out that the hefty punching arm is capable of more than a few neat tricks.

As well as being able to string together some neat combos, the Fist is able to punch through vents, pick up and throw enemies, pound them into the ground, and transform into other useful forms. As you progress, you'll be fitted with Drill and Whip attachments, unlocking new abilities in tried and true metroidvania fashion. The Drill spins up and opens into a rotor blade that enables you to glide on updrafts or propel yourself through water, while the Whip allows you to traverse between anchor points and reel in enemies from range, using its lengthy thrashing strand of crackling electricity, like Indiana Jones with fur and long ears.

F.I.S.T.'s story, such as it is, mainly centres upon toppling the so-called Legion, headed up by a mysterious armoured bunny named Cicero, who Rayton evidently has a history with. Your mission, it eventually transpires, is to be first to a MacGuffin known as the 'Spark', an artefact of untold power that drives whoever possesses it to the brink of megalomaniacal madness. With the help of Torch City's dodgy Rat Gang, the bovines of the Western Range, and a shadowy feline character known as Lady Q, you'll beat a path through a power station, a deep mine, an underwater area that requires breathing apparatus, a dank sewer, and other mostly enclosed regions of Torch City, in an effort to prevent the Spark from falling into the wrong hands.


For the first few hours, F.I.S.T.'s difficulty curve runs nice and smooth, but, as you venture deeper into the game, it begins to spike. Perhaps the worst instance of this is that hoariest of video game tropes – the bit where you lose all of your gear and are temporarily rendered powerless. This is a major lowlight, its trap-filled platforming sections an utter pain, which feels like it demands more dumb luck than a modicum of skill. It's a dodgy design blip in an otherwise rock-solid experience, apart from irritating unskippable – albeit short – cut-scenes preceding boss battles. Should you die and have to repeat said boss, you're forced to watch the little introductory cut-scene again. And again. And again. Yay.

Still, the depth and detail on offer in Torch City's dieselpunk environments makes for an impressive-looking journey, while, equally, the depth and detail offered in sheer gameplay terms is to be applauded. Like any metroidvania worth its salt, F.I.S.T. rewards venturing off-piste and exploring, using new gadgets to open previously inaccessible areas and unearth new secrets. Doing so will unlock paths to health upgrades, upgrades to your skill gauge (dictating how many special moves Rayton can unleash), or boosts to the EP meter (attached to the use of special items like healing Carrot Juice that Rayton can swig, parrying Shock Batons, and Homing Missiles), as well as various collectibles, like plant seeds or posters you can exchange with Urso to acquire spiffy paint jobs for your Fist. Yes, you can paint your Fist bright pink, if you want to.


This guy again…

You'll also accumulate currency that can be used to buy items from rat thieves or add new moves to your repertoire, via a terminal's skill tree (which doubles as a handy autosave point), and before you know it you'll have a range of abilities to disassemble the Legion's army of robots, grenade-launching tanks, and other mechanical monstrosities. Occasionally frustrating it may be, but F.I.S.T. is mostly a really good, well-made side-scrolling metroidvania featuring a cast of fuzzy anthropomorphic animals, with gratifying combat, enjoyable traversal, and an open-ended, connected world that's fun to explore and easy to navigate, thanks to teleport points and a subway system. As metroidvanias go, you could do a lot worse than F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch – you're a rabbit with a gigantic fist. What more do you need to know?

F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch

An engaging 2.5D platforming adventure with rich visuals and furry creatures, F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch has all of the right ingredients you'd expect from any good metroidvania, as well as a few tricks of its own. It's certainly one of the most enjoyable games featuring a rabbit with a huge metal fist I've ever played.

Form widget
80%
Audio
70%

Some rather nice tunes that fade in and out as you move between the game's different regions. Voice acting is decent, too, although some dialogue exchanges are missing voices, for some reason.

Visuals
75%

F.I.S.T. is a nice-looking game, its environments and fuzzy animals lavished in a lovely bit of detail. Some dodgy lip sync lets the side down somewhat, but all in all, there's an admirable depth and richness to the game's dieselpunk style.

Playability
80%

Once you've acquired the double jump and the ability to pounce off walls, you'll be leaping all over F.I.S.T.'s levels like a pro. Intricate combo-based combat and a nice drip-feed of mechanics keep things fresh from beginning to end. Vitally, it's fun.

Delivery
80%

Save for one or two irritating segments, F.I.S.T. is a well-made, entertaining way to spend 10-15 hours or so. Like any good metroidvania, there's ample replay value to boot, as you make your way to 100%.

Trophies
80%

Locating every collectible, maxing every stat, and unlock every skill will take a long time, as will performing some of the trickier combat-based objectives. This is a rock solid trophy list, though, with a good spread. Nice.

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