Tomb Raider writer joins chorus of people saying Forspoken's writing is fine, actually

Forspoken
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett has given their opinion on a frustrating moment in Forspoken, saying that it isn't necessarily due to a narrative issue. 

Spoiler warning: We'll be discussing minor story points from Forspoken from here on out. 

In an informative Twitter thread (opens in new tab), Pratchett broke down what could have happened during Forspoken's development to lead to the particularly frustrating moment featured below. In the clip, shared by another Twitter user, protagonist Frey is tasked with finding her cat Homer and a gym bag stuffed with cash before escaping a burning building, but the game gets players to do it in a way that just doesn't make sense.

See more

As soon as the cutscene ends, Frey appears right in front of the gym bag but can't interact with it until she's found her cat first. The player in the clip attempts to pick up the bag several times to which Frey just says: "Gotta find Homer first", despite the bag literally being at her feet. Once Frey has found Homer, the next task appears in the top right corner which says: 'Get the gym bag.' This has understandably frustrated players since it breaks the game's immersion.

Although many were quick to blame the game's writing for this particular moment, as Forspoken's dialogue has received a lot of mixed reactions lately, Pratchett - who is known for working on the Tomb Raider series and Mirror's Edge - has instead suggested that this moment isn't actually a narrative issue. "This isn’t a narrative issue in the way it might appear," the writer's tweet reads, "[in my humble opinion] it's come about due to narrative/level design & object placement misalignment." 

The Twitter thread goes into a lot of detail about how this kind of thing can happen, but the general gist is that Frey's line about Homer is "a basic hint line" which gives the player a clue as to what they should do next. According to Pratchett, these kinds of lines are "often considered mechanically and not narratively" and are usually "written very early or very late." This means that the writer might not have known exactly where the bag would be in relation to the character or that its position could have changed during development. 

Pratchett goes on to explain: "As a writer, knowing the narrative context of a line is important. But in games, we don’t always get to know it, or it changes, and no one thinks to update us." To summarise, Pratchett says: "The story is saying 'Frey cares more about her cat than money.' Sure. The cat is ALWAYS more important. But the gameplay is unintentionally saying 'Frey is an idiot; she could've easily had both.'" 

Find out if this game is for you with our Forspoken review. If you've already picked up the game, perhaps Purple Magic in Forspoken is proving to be a little confusing, but our guide will help you out.

Hope Bellingham
News Writer

After studying Film Studies and Creative Writing at university, I was lucky enough to land a job as an intern at Player Two PR where I helped to release a number of indie titles. I then got even luckier when I became a Trainee News Writer at GamesRadar+ before being promoted to a fully-fledged News Writer after a year and a half of training.  My expertise lies in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, cozy indies, and The Last of Us, but especially in the Kingdom Hearts series. I'm also known to write about the odd Korean drama for the Entertainment team every now and then.