Publisher: Humble Bundle
Review Context: I am a really big fan of games like Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Starbound, and any game that involves gathering and crafting as a driving force of the game.
Date of Playthrough: April 2019 – May 2019
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Resolution: Fullscreen 1440×900
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy.
Forager, developed by HopFrog, is a game that discovered in 2018, eventually becoming one of my most anticipated games of 2019. Forager is a very interesting game involving gathering materials and crafting that presents and provides the player a different experience than other titles in the genre. It’s unique progression features are probably the reason why this game will force you to continue playing until you choose to stop by choice or restriction.
Starting a game in Forager puts you on an island, slowly learning the mechanics, with very little resources at your disposal. With your pickaxe you can forage pretty much anything, but where the game stands out is your ability to progress in your own way through your own choices. As you gain experience points you will eventually level up and have to spend your first skill point. The skill tree in this game is unlike any other skill tree game I’ve played, as you start with four distinct choices, with each choice adding two more options to that part of the tree to choose from with your next skill point. My description really doesn’t do the appearance and presentation of the skill tree justice because the visual of how the tree spreads out is beautifully done, although the tree could use stronger descriptions for some of the choices.
Beginning on Forager you start off on a small island and soon you realize you have to find more land, as one of the signatures of the game is that as you unlock new skills, whatever the unlock is begins spawning on the island. Everything randomly respawns on the island a rapid pace, which is both a blessing and a curse to the gameplay, as the area around you can quickly become cluttered. The blessing is that you will always have things to use your pickaxe on to gain exp and fill up your inventory without having to move around too far. One of the more appealing and interesting things about Forager is the ability to buy new land to expand your map. There is a gold mechanic in the game where you have to create gold from gold bars and gold is used to buy land. Each land expansion cost a different amount of gold, with fog of war, so you don’t know what that land will bring, as the lands have different biomes with different resources and potential quest givers and other NPCs.
One of the cool progression elements in the game is that new land can contain chest, which requires you to create a key to open, which contains different items or artifacts to enhance your character. I personally liked the artifacts in the game, as well as the puzzles you need to solve to unlock certain chests. Despite the game allowing you to choose your own path, there is an element of linearity to the game, as it always feels the game wants you to go in a certain direction. Additionally, there is a cutoff on the map so you can’t buy infinite land, making Forager a more fixed curated experience unlike a game like other games in the genre.
The game’s inventory management is annoying, because until you figure out that you have to create vaults, which is actually implemented very well, inventory management is a nightmare to start. For example, if you create a vault and put certain items in the vault, future items of whatever is in the vault that are foraged and collected will automatically stack in that vault making gathering efficient. There is a progression system to upgrade your pickaxe and bag space, which will always be that carrot on a stick in front of you to keep finding those materials to make gathering faster. Probably the most tedious system in the game is the energy system, as each time you swing your pickaxe you lose energy and have to continuously feed yourself to stay alive. This feels like something that is not really necessary for a game like this and takes you out of your foraging element of enjoyment.
Unfortunately, one of the more annoying things about Forager is the lack of direct menu hotkeys. The game makes it a chore to reach your skill tree because there is no direct hotkey to that menu so I am forced to press ESC and click on the skill tree. This complaint also includes all the building options because you have to do the same thing for every building you want to put down. Minus the lack of direct menu hotkeys, a lot of the user interface is well put together, as you have all your items, seals, and artifacts that you found all in front of you on one screen. I have no complaints about the movement controls and combat with enemies you encounter effortless and easy.
I am of two different minds when it comes to Forager. While the game is an addicting gather grind, it isn’t as grandiose of a game in space as it probably should be for a game like this. Still, Forager allows the player to choose how to go about their experience and it does set itself apart from others in the genre with the leveling and skill system. While other grindy games will cause you to lose interest easily, Forager has both a visual and gameplay charm about it that makes endless foraging a fun and relaxing experience. HopFrog has also promised more content moving forward, which I look forward to playing.
Similar Games Liked:
Stardew Valley (PC)