Developer Antab Studio’s Foreclosed is a captivating third-person shooter. Told entirely in a cel-shaded comic book aesthetic, paying homage to classic video games like the 1995 beat ‘em up Comix Zone, Foreclosed puts a lot of stock in its look. Maybe a bit too much. Like some pageant queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race, this action-adventure game relies on pretty, hooking you in with its preference for style. There’s nothing wrong with being a looker, but Foreclosed’s rigid controls and staunch lack of accessibility options prove that beauty can often belie many underdeveloped elements.
You play as Evan Kapnos, a governmental operative (or something like that) whose entire identity has been foreclosed. His employer, SecurTech, went bankrupt. As a result, Kapnos loses access to everything in a matter of seconds: his rickety apartment, his brain-implanted I.D. (because this is a cyberpunk game), his money, his fucking gun! And what happens when the bureaucracy infringes on even a video game character’s Second Amendment rights?
Lots of violence with an undocumented weapon, of course, as Kapnos goes on a killing spree to reinstate his identity. However, as things often do, nothing goes as planned, and Kapnos finds himself engulfed in a spiraling conspiracy about defrauding the government.
Shooting Through Nondescript Sponges
The narrative deals with deep subject matter revolving around bureaucratic interests and oligarchical hierarchies. It also has something to say about capitalists exploiting loopholes to extract as much money as possible by avoiding taxes and killing “legally.” This is a dense-ass game. It’s easy to get stumped by Foreclosed’s storytelling, what with names and events tossed around without proper context. Despite all of its philosophical musing on money superseding humanity (much like it already does and always has), Foreclosed is mostly a mediocre shooter filled with nondescript sponges.
Every enemy, from one two-piece suit-wearing dude to the next, looks identical to each other. Whatever differences exist between them are minor at best. Like, one guy might wear a blue helmet and blue body armor instead of a blue blazer, while another uses a blue energy shield in conjunction with the blue armor. Foreclosed’s enemies are the blandest worker bees ever assembled.
Though insipid in design, the enemies are memorable: They eat bullets. Kapnos’ pistol, which can be upgraded with perks like exploding bullets or increased fire rate, is too weak. So you’re often putting 10 or more bullets in these dudes even after applying any three of the available six perks. And because you can’t take nearly as much damage as these administrative goons, and you’re usually outnumbered anyway, Foreclosed devolves into an exhausting shooting gallery full of superabsorbent bullet sponges with incredible accuracy. Be prepared to die a lot in this game.
Fun Powers, Frustrating Settings, Flat Parts
That’s not to say there’s no fun here. While enemies take a while to kill, one well-placed headshot usually does the trick. You can wipe out an entire area in moments if you’re efficient with your trigger finger. Kapnos also has access to telekinesis and other powers (such as beacons that siphon health and cages that trap henchmen). These abilities make for some great action sequences. Combining them together, like levitating one dude to fill him with bullets while caging another to stop them from shooting as you siphon health from yet another, feels brutal. When using everything at your disposal, enemies typically have no recourse other than their numbers. And the heat management of your various powers.
But what adds to the exhaustive nature of Foreclosed’s action, aside from the annoying amount of guys to shoot, is its controls. It’s hard finding a smooth balance with aiming, as it can swing wildly from rigid to loose in the settings. And the settings itself are the barest of bones. There are no accessibility options to adjust things like color contrast or text size either. There is an aim assist, though, a boon for players with physical limitations. But since this is rendered in that striking cel-shaded comic book style, having no options to make changes to its appearance impacted my ability to see things.
Then you get to Foreclosed’s other parts: the puzzling and the sneaking. Puzzles in this game, largely made up of “find the key to the lock” design in which you must locate a specific terminal to unlock a specific door (for example), are fine. They don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to puzzle-solving; they merely exist as another mediocre element. But the stealth is terrible. It’s the kind where you insta-fail if you’re caught, where you’re spotted despite hiding behind structures. Thankfully, checkpoints are gracious during these sections, making them tolerable—even though the AI is hella accurate.
Still, the story, while occasionally perplexing, is full of heady material to chew through. It’s the kind of narrative that would require an additional playthrough, totally possible thanks to its roughly 2-4 hour campaign with selectable chapters. The gunplay may be a tiring affair of shooting lemmings in body armor, and the other elements are both underwhelming and frustrating, but Foreclosed is a gorgeous game with a big-ass brain. It just hasn’t quite figured out how to apply that yet.