Ever since it was revealed as part of the China Hero Project I’ve been excited to learn more about F.I.S.T: Forged In Shadow Torch. The games unique diesel-punk aesthetic and mech-animal character designs grabbed my attention from the moment I watched the original trailer. The game has a demo available as part of Steam Autumn Game Festival right now, and it was the first thing I downloaded bright and early Thursday morning. 

F.I.S.T is a Metroidvania where you play as a rabbit named Rayton. On his home planet, a hostile robotic has taken siege and although Rayton was apart of a civilian force attempting to fight back initially, he’s since gone into retirement. That is— until his friend is kidnapped. Rayton now picks up his mechanical arsenal that includes a fist and drill to begin a rescue mission and to fight back against the Machine Legion.  

The demo itself isn’t too long. It took me sixteen-minutes to complete with two deaths along the way. But it is a showcase of an easy to play, hard to master combat system that feels great with a variety of combos. There’s even a helpful combo list in the pause menu. The game also seems to incorporate a risk-reward system, for being aggressive and there looks to be plenty of secrets to find for avid explorers.

I’m not sure if you start the game with two weapons, but the demo has you beginning with both the mechanical fist attached to the back of Rayton as well as a drill. The fist hits enemies hard and is good at juggling combos. A charged attack will also break shields in a pinch. The drill I didn’t use as much, but it is fast and has the ability to block enemy fire by spinning in front of Rayton. To help dodge enemy attacks there is a dash and double jump, which makes Rayton feel rather nimble. When I got to the end of the demo and entered a boss fight, I quickly had to learn that the game does use a parry system where you simply need to press in the direction of an enemies attack right at the last moment to counter. 

Enemies will flash red if they’re close to being dead and you can initiate a finishing attack that seems to replenish Rayton’s flask. I can’t say for sure if this is true, but the flask definitely seemed to fill up as a reward for being aggressive and performing finishing attacks. I hope this is true because the flask is used to refill portions of  Rayton‘s health. It felt like I had to risk health to gain it and as a Bloodborne player, it spoke to me. 

In-line with what you’d expect in a Metroidvania there appeared to be paths I could backtrack through later in the game and I was rewarded with gold knuckles as secrets as I explored off the beaten path. 

This demo was just a small taste of what F.I.S.T: Forged In Shadow Torch has in store, I’m sure. But I really liked what’s here. Combat feels great with the weight of the mechanical punches landing with a thud and when facing the boss fight, pulling off a counter into a swing of wild attacks was super enthralling. The world itself is also intriguing, and as I said before, I’m digging the style and character designs quite a bit.

F.I.S.T: Forged in Shadow Torch is scheduled to release in 2021 for PS4 and PC. Keep your eyes on Explosion Network for more coverage in the future.