Date: September 15, 2022
When creating Foretales, developer Alkemi Games wanted to create an open-ended adventure, where your choices matter and shape the story. They accomplished this by making the entire game revolve around cards, used to navigate through a non-linear story. While the game uses systems similar to other card games such as Hearthstone, here they are designed to work around the narrative, but how does it all come together? The result is a fun experience, where you are able to shape the story the way you want to.
The game’s story revolves around Volepain, a thief who is about to do a high-paying job with his best friend Léo. The caper involves stealing a valuable object, however what starts as a simple heist quickly turns into an adventure to save the realm from total annihilation. Once you complete your first mission, the game becomes very non-linear — you are presented with a board with 2-3 missions you can tackle, and you can do them in any order you want.
When you are on this mission board, you will see some disasters – called Doom Events – that will occur in a certain amount of days. Completing missions will help prevent these disasters from happening, and the game will usually make it obvious which one will prevent which disaster. However, it’s possible to fail at stopping some Doom Events from happening – this can have consequences ranging from missions being locked to missing out on playable characters entirely.
Having the game’s story revolve around preventing Doom Events was great. Seeing them during the missions gives you a sense of the dangers that are coming to the realm, and shows you the potential consequences of your actions.
As you progress in the game you can meet more characters to join you (depending on which missions you choose to complete), and you will discover a few enemy factions, such as guards, cultists, and people that are infected with a mysterious plague. You can find out more information on these factions if you play through certain missions. While it is good that they spread the game’s lore this way, it isn’t really clear which missions would give you information on each faction, which is a bit of a bummer.
Foretales completely revolves around cards, and as such, all the gameplay happens on a card table. Everything in the game is represented by a card or token, including your characters, skills, locations, enemies, and much more. While this may sound like it could be complicated, the game does a good job of explaining the uses for each type of card, and how to accomplish your goal.
Every mission has multiple steps, and in order to move on to the next step, you will need to accomplish a certain objective — this can range from simply finding the location of the next area, to finding a way to deal with someone who’s standing in your way. In order to find and complete these objectives, you will need to remove or change the Location Cards that are placed in the center of the table.
In each level, there will be up to five Location Cards, and in order to get rid of or change one, you need to combine it with a card in your possession. The different cards you choose can cause wildly different outcomes — for example, one card can simply remove the Location and pull the next one from the Location deck, while another one can change it into the objective you’re looking for. A major part of going through missions in the game will be taking advantage of the unique skills of your characters in order to gather needed supplies, manage your resources, and find the objective you’re looking for.
For the most part, it was fun trying to see how each skill would affect each location, and deciding how to reach the objective. However, there was one mission in particular that required a very specific use of cards in an exact order, to the point where it became frustrating trying to reach the objective and continue with the mission.
Naturally, your enemies will do their best to stop you from accomplishing your goal. There are different types of enemies, and the actions you take can catch the attention of a certain group of enemies — for example, stealing can cause guards to begin pursuing you. When enemies are looking out for you, there is a chance that they will get in your way anytime you draw a new Location Card, preventing you from interacting with it until they are dealt with. You can then choose to either engage in combat with the group of enemies, or avoid them and focus on the other Location Cards.
Once you get into combat, there are multiple ways to resolve a confrontation. If you have the right resources, you can have the enemies run away before anyone can even attack each other. Otherwise, there are several ways to give yourself an edge in battle, such as stunning enemies, or bolstering a character’s attack with either a Skill Card or an Ally Card. A battle is won when either the enemy morale drops to 0, or all enemies are killed.
With all of this freedom in both exploration and battles, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what you should do. Luckily, if you’re lost, there is a hint button on the right side of the screen to point you in the right direction. If you continue to press this button, the hints will get more and more direct, eventually telling you exactly what to do.
Longevity and Replayability
Foretales is a fairly short game, with a playthrough taking around 8-10 hours. However, what it lacks in length, it makes up for in replayability. Because of the game’s non-linear nature, there are different outcomes for resolving Doom Events, and the game has a number of different endings. On top of this, there are multiple ways you can tackle each mission, allowing you to potentially have different outcomes and even find hidden objectives. All of this freedom means that every playthrough can be completely unique from the last one.
Foretales is a fun adventure game, with a unique concept of having a journey that plays out in a card game. With its non-linear approach to story progression, you can spend a lot of time with this game trying to learn every aspect of the lore and unlock every outcome. While this game might not be for people that don’t enjoy card games, I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys plenty of freedom in their games.