Review: FIST: Forged In Shadow Torch - Frustratingly Close to Metroidvania Greatness

Review: FIST: Forged In Shadow Torch – Frustratingly Close to Metroidvania Greatness

Captured on a Nintendo Switch (handheld/not included)

Let’s get it out of the way. FIST: Forged in Shadow Torch on Nintendo Switch is a frustrating game. Not in the sense that it’s difficult, but rather frustratingly close to being something great and not quite making it. Like doing the pole and you’re breaking your ankle on the pole. There are a lot of good things here, but the combination of the game not fulfilling its potential and the Switch struggling to keep up with it makes recommending this game a little more difficult.

Developed by Shanghai-based TiGames in conjunction with the Sony Hero Project initiative, FIST launched on PlayStation consoles and PC in 2021 before now making its way to the Switch nearly a year later. It’s a Metroidvania Dieselbank game where you play an anthropomorphic rabbit named Rayton. A former pilot has to take up his “arm” to fight against the Legion and elite squadron, The Iron Dogs, who have occupied his home in Torch City. The arm in question is literally a giant arm attached to the back of Ray – the fist of the same name.

Fist: Forged in Shadow Torch Review - Shot 2 of 4
Captured on a Nintendo Switch (docked)

FIST hits all the standard Metroidvania notes: explore, hit the wall, find an item to help you beat said wall, unlock more map, rinse, and repeat. However, due to its heavy reliance on narrative, FIST feels more linear than something like Super Metroid. The upgrades themselves are also pretty standard, like extra jumps, wall jumps, and other weapons, and a few really feel like they should be in your standard set – more on that later.

Once you’ve got the full set, Ray feels comfortable maneuvering and the platforming challenges (and sequence breaks) are satisfying to pull off. However, Ray moves slowly like a rabbit with a giant metal fist attached to his back, so if you want to get around at a decent speed, expect to spam the dash button this often.

One area where FIST stands out a bit more than other Metroidvania games is its combat design. Combat combat with a heavy focus on combos is the name of the game here; While not as deep as Bayonetta’s systems, for example, FIST’s combat is surprisingly satisfying. However, this is another part of the game where the above issue with upgrades spreads like they should be standard parts of your collection. When we first got our hands on the game, we felt the combat was missing something to make it click; Like dribbling that can pass through enemies, missiles or parry. Both exist at the end, but one is the ultimate upgrade you get in the game and the other one can’t be missed. It makes sense that extra moves and combo chains are locked behind upgrades (which you can spend coin on at any save point) but these moves that are locked away made things feel a bit sloppy in the early game.

Fist: Forged in Shadow Torch Review - screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on a Nintendo Switch (docked)

Ray also gains access to new weapons with his own set of combos, such as the slow but heavy-hitting drill and lightning-fast whip, which can be swapped with the press of a button allowing you to use multiple weapons in combos. He also has a bunch of sub-weapons like a homing missile and batons that can fend off attacks (separate from the actual parry). What’s interesting here is that these sub-weapons use the same gauge as your healing beaker, so they end up feeling relatively wasteful.

While it’s by no means a very long game at around 15 hours, FIST seems to hold out only by a touch very long, paired with a sharp rise in difficulty in the late game. There is a part that spins around the batteries slowly, which is bad enough, but if damaged, it resets to the start, which is very frustrating. Not to mention the reuse of bosses throughout the entire game, with some fights recurring three or four times by the time you get credits, making things feel like a little stretched out.

FIST really struggles on the facade at times; While the game has been quite the scene on PS5 and PC, porting to the Switch isn’t exactly neat. It still looks very good for the system, but elements like the texture of the fur while cutting look quite off, as well as some areas struggling to maintain 30fps. However, not all display issues are due to a switch error. Pieces can suddenly turn black; The voice acting can go from a perfectly fine read to reading a strange choppy line in the same conversation, and even the characters will teleport instantaneously.

Fist: Forged in Shadow Torch Review - screenshot 4 of 4
Captured on a Nintendo Switch (docked)

This glitch carries over into the gameplay as well, as Ray teleports occasionally when he gets hit. During one of the final bosses, we encountered a glitch in which they just disappeared from the edge of the screen, locking up the game, which was immediately followed by endless regenerating enemies on an elevator ride, once again locking the game.

The biggest drawback of the Switch version is the load times. Loads between zones range on average from 45 seconds to a minute (we timed them). This is made even more frustrating because there are parts of the game where you go to an area to be told after a minute that you have to go back to a different area and therefore another long load. The worst culprit is in one of the late-game boss fights where dying means a 50-second loading time followed by returning to the arena, engaging in combat, engaging in dialogue, and finally returning to battle. The most unusual thing to think about other fights will take you straight back to the boss.

conclusion

Although we may sound very negative when discussing the game, FIST: Forged In Shadow Torch is really worth playing; It has a lot of potential that you don’t quite reach. He rides on the cusp of greatness often, while not so far Which makes it cross the barrier. We can’t wait to play a sequel because if it’s repeated, FIST could be something really special. Unfortunately, due to technical issues associated with this Switch version such as unbearably long load times, more let down. Overall, a promising enterprise that we hope will lead to better things in the future.


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