With Forspoken, Square Enix is building an action-RPG with "mass appeal across the globe"

Big in 2022: Forspoken
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Magic and mystery lie at the heart of Forspoken. Square Enix is drawing on the experience of Luminous Productions to establish the core rhythms of its play, a new studio staffed up with the developers who helped bring Final Fantasy 15 to life. The world has been carefully crafted by writers from the West, with the publisher hoping to leverage their talents to make this timed PS5 exclusive palatable to a wide audience of players. As Forspoken's creative producer tells us, it has not been an easy task. 

"We started with a blank slate. When we first conceived this project, we wanted to create a brand new product that isn't carrying anything from an existing franchise. We wanted it to have broad, mass appeal across the globe – we didn't want to make a game for a certain audience, but one for all players out there," says Raio Mitsuno. 

Into a world of magic and mystery

Key Info


(Image credit: Square Enix)

Game Forspoken
 Luminous Productions
Publisher Square Enix
Platforms PC, PS5
Release May 24, 2022

To achieve this, the team started by assessing its experience and capabilities. "We took a lot of learnings from Final Fantasy 15; we looked at what we did well, at what we didn't do well, and things that we could improve on," Mitsuno adds, explaining that the "story and narrative" were identified as areas where Luminous could use some external assistance. "We decided to work with outside writers, great minds in the West, to kind of fuse our creative abilities with their creative abilities into something big that we've never done before."

The story as it exists today appears to be far more focused than the densely-layered antics that can be so commonly associated with Final Fantasy. Forspoken picks up with Frey Holland, an abductee from New York City who is forced to fight through the violent fantasy world of Athia to survive. From what we've seen of Forspoken in action thus far, Holland's path home appears to be obscured by plenty of magic, mystery, and mischievous Tantas rulers to topple. It's a scenario we're keen to dig into later this year. 

Mitsuno oversaw the world-building with external partners and it's clear that he enjoyed such an unconventional process – working with established game creator Amy Hennig (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves), writer Gary Whitta [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story], and personnel from the realm of TV and film in Allison Rymer (Shadowhunters) and Todd Stashwick (Gotham). 

"Because it was a brand new IP that we were creating, there weren't any rules that we had to abide by," says Mitsuno. "We wanted to create a world that's all brand new, filled with magic and these matriarchs. So we started off with Gary and he really gave us this massive world. He was focused on world-building, and of creating the original main concept for the world that became Forspoken."

"We didn't want to make a game for a certain audience, but one for all players out there"

Raio Mitsuno, creative producer

Once Luminous had that in place, the studio began looking to writers from a variety of backgrounds and genres, in an effort to "throw more ideas on the table to create this vast scope of ideas that we could draw from." The next step was collaborating with Amy Hennig, who Mitsuno describes as a "mastermind" for her ability to "create a great story and put it into a game package." The former Naughty Dog and Visceral Games luminary took the big picture that Whitta sketched out and started detailing to it, formulating an original story that could properly slot into the broad open-world the studio was engineering.

Once Forspoken entered pre-production – as Luminous began work refining its magically-enhanced combat and parkour systems and everything else around them – the concept was handed over to Allison Rymer and Todd Stashwick. The pair are relative newcomers to the video game industry but have experience elsewhere, Rymer has a background in writing and production for TV series, while Stashwick is a film actor who co-wrote Visceral's unreleased Star Wars game alongside Hennig. Mitsuno explains that the pair are "behind the actual story, the ones writing the script and the details of it."

Mitsuno says that the result is a clear and strong narrative arc for Frey Holland, one we won't be able to influence or change throughout Forspoken. "Because this is a story that we've put so much effort into creating and telling, the main narrative isn't something that you can actually change the outcome of, based on your decisions, but there are lots of side quests and things that you can discover as you're venturing out into the world and off the main path." 

The development of Forspoken has been somewhat unconventional for Square Enix. From Mitsuno's perspective, he believes it will ultimately help set this action-RPG apart from the pack. "This was a new endeavor for us. It was something that we thought was going to be a challenge, but I think we're reaping a lot of benefits from it now. We have this unique world that's not just had Japanese minds on it, but we have this international background on this story and in this project we've created. "It was just so much fun to get input from minds that are so successful in their own areas, for them to put their best ideas into our game and for us to work alongside them to build it out and develop it."

Big in 2022

(Image credit: Future)

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Josh West
Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar+. He has over 15 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.