Forged in the shadow of Metroid.
It was the first time Metroid had a whole new entry in its franchise at the height of Indie Metroidvania in 2021 when Metroid revived Metroid Dread in 2D on Switch. I’ve heard about the FIST: Forged in Shadow Torch game that was already on sale on PlayStation and PC when Dread was released. The topic suggested that FIST was as good as Samus Aran’s latest outing, so when the game went to Nintendo Switch, I wanted to know how it stacks up. FIST hasn’t reached the highs of Metroid Dread, but it’s a great addition to the Metroidvania genre, and while it’s good in many ways, it’s hampered by some nasty problems.
FIST features many studies, but primarily shows a direct progression to the story. You star as Layton. Layton is a war veteran of anthropomorphic rabbits called from retirement when his fellow Fertizen was suppressed by an army of robots. Voice acting is excellent and attempts to weave a compelling story are perfectly fine, but the plot tricks primarily act as window dressings and are ideal for this type of game. I’ve mainly moved forward to see what new challenges gameplay presents, rather than seeing what happens next to Layton and his friends. Visually, the Unreal Engine is shining and the movement looks pretty, but the aesthetics of dieselpunk rarely go beyond the dark and moody. Technically, it works fine on the Switch. The load time between areas can be slow, but when I entered the action, I didn’t have any noticeable issues.
Gameplay revolves around three weapons: a fist, a drill, and a whip. At first there is only one, but when you get all three, the game really shines. Combat is a combo-heavy case that demands near perfection at normal difficulty settings. The combo of each weapon and the skill tree that unleashes unique abilities offer many options for use in combat, but killrooms and powerful regular enemy onslaught now defend more often than attacks. Seems to be urging. Most of my frustration came from a handful of ridiculous spikes in difficulty. This is usually associated with a second phase of surprise or a boss battle with seemingly endless waves of enemies. But when the fight isn’t kicking your ass, it’s really cool. By the second half of the game, I could easily reduce the difficulty every time I hit a brick wall. It was a clumsy solution, but it’s less annoying, and I’m grateful that there are two difficulty settings and they are switchable.
Outside of combat, the three weapons are also used for exploration and puzzle solving. A fist can be used to grab and move an item, a drill helps escape underwater, and a whip doubles as an assembly. With the exception of mobility upgrades, all powerups will spin out of these core weapons. Using the drill not only as a hover but also as a tool for destruction is novel. Exploring with these items can be a lot of fun, especially when mixing them to avoid platform challenges.
As you follow the path of the story, you’ll see how the world is intertwined and give you ample opportunity to explore the area to find secrets. It’s fun to find, and it’s easy to glance at the map to see what you’ve missed, in case you miss something. Unfortunately, if you try to complete 100%, the search will hit. The world is huge, but the clumsy high-speed movement system and the large, boring open space make it a slogan to move around for a particular item. Walking around the world in search of items in later games seemed more of a chore than similar games. I enjoyed going through these areas first and sometimes on my return trip, but the constant re-crossing eventually tired me.
If you can handle slow operability, you will have a lot of items to collect, but like many Metroidvania, you will reach the point of diminishing returns. Enemies and various items drop money that can be used to purchase items and unlock weapon upgrades, but after the first few hours, the game’s economy takes on the shape of a pear, so much that you don’t know what to do. I had the money. There are some good secrets that are snuggling up a little deeper for your own benefit. Maps are generally user-friendly, but the fact that all areas of the game are displayed on the map at once is overwhelming to understand where to go and what to do when looking for a particular item. May be done.
FIST can tolerate some of these issues. Because in momentary gameplay, it’s incredible unless you kick your ass in the combat killroom. Sophisticating along the hassle of fringes will take a good game and make it great, but still, FIST is a fun ride. Contrary to the topic above, the truth is said, but it’s not exactly at the same level as Metroid Dread (but what?). But this team is clearly working on something. I wouldn’t be surprised if their next effort in this area would give Samus a real run for her money.