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Foretales Review

Card-based games have become more and more inventive in recent years, and Foretales is perhaps one of the most original ideas yet.

Offering more than simply card-based combat, an entire narrative plays out via a deck of cards in Foretales. Each card turned over on the table represents a new environment with new opportunities. One of your character’s action cards might start a chain of new events, perhaps. Or maybe you can avoid a combat encounter by bribing the enemies you find yourself up against. This is a clever and altogether engaging affair that’s sure to get its teeth into anyone who enjoys card-based adventures.

Perhaps the best thing about Foretales is that it’s not exactly linear. A number of events are available to you, and you can play them in any order you wish. Avoid an event entirely, though, and that may shape your journey, and what becomes available to you later on. You’ll need to pick and choose carefully if you want to forge the best path – and hopefully the best outcome for your colourful party.

You see, there’s a curse taking hold of the world you find yourself in, and only the actions of Volepain, your avian party leader, can stop it. Volepain can foresee some events that are going to happen, and he has the power to change them – but only if he acts quickly and takes the right course of action. Early on, you’ll get the choice to save a companion from prison, or persuade a lady in high power to stop an attack on some innocent miners. Which do you prioritise? It’s up to you. You can try to save everyone and everything – but ultimately, some sacrifices might have to be made along the way.

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The characters under your control in Foretales aren’t exactly… good. Their hands of cards will include actions like pickpocketing and sowing seeds of doubt amongst crowds. You could try to play each character as altruistically as possible, sure, but in reality, you’re going to be glad of the option to steal from a shopkeeper or scare off a potential attacker with threats of evil-doing.

In fact, the range of options at your disposal is a little overwhelming at first, and you’ll likely find yourself hovering over your multiple piles of cards, trying to find the best course of action. When it comes to combat, you can outright attack, with each member of your party having an attack and health stat. But it’s rarely the best way to go: you’ll want to use a mixture of action cards and item cards to either weaken the attacking party to the point of submission or bribe them to leave you alone with food or coin.

And it’s not just in combat that you have choices to be made. At any one point in Foretales you’ll have four environment cards to choose from. Your goal is always to find the card that’s going to progress the story. It may be further in the deck – meaning you simply have to keep interacting with cards until it gets played – or you may need to carry out a specific action. The biggest frustration is that it’s not always clear what you need to do in order to progress the story forward, and you may find yourself going in unnecessary circles. Thankfully, there is a hint button available at any time. And the more of Foretales you play, the more familiar you’ll become with what it expects from you.

This is a fantastic-looking game, with gorgeous, colourful art on each card that really brings characters and events to life. Coupled with excellent narration, it’s easy to forget that you’re simply looking at a deck of cards and aren’t fully immersed in a 3D narrative. The art style happily reminds us of Walt Disney’s Robin Hood – perhaps its the anthropomorphic animals – but it’s all so beautifully drawn and animated.

Foretales is a wonderful example of how creative the card-based genre can be. Marrying a gripping narrative with gameplay that really makes you feel in charge of your own destiny, this is an engaging and fulfilling experience that we whole-heartedly recommend. It can take a little while to fully get your bearings, what with so many different cards in play at any one time, but it’s absolutely worth sticking with.

Foretales Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Foretales is based on the PC version of the game, via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on Switch and PC.

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