As always, the holiday seasons come with self-care gifts to finish off an awful year. This time I decided to reward myself with a video game I had decided to hold off from buying until I was confident that I could get a space in my schedule to try it. So why not write my Forager review while I still got some free time?
Forager is a 2D open-world game that directly quotes Stardew Valley, Terraria and Zelda as their primary sources of inspiration. HopFrog is the mind behind Forager, and his story by itself is proof of how video games can be a driving force of passion and dedication. My review will focus on how I perceived the game rather than more objective metrics like performance or gameplay progression.
The Meat And Bones Behind Forager
Forager combines fast respawning resources and crafting times similar to an idle game with elements seen in adventure games. I’ve described this game to my friends as a Cookie Clicker with skill trees and monsters. There’s always something going on, and as the game progresses, you’ll see that buildings and perks will sync to automate some processes so you can focus on other aspects of the game.
The skill tree has four main routes: Industry, Economy, Foraging and Magic. The upgrades won’t make the game easier but unlock new strategies and options. Whether you want to gather resources faster, improve your attacks or optimize your base productivity, there’s a perk for that. Eventually, you’ll have access to all of them once you reach around level 60 with a character, so don’t be afraid of missing out on any perk.
Keeping a balance between gathering resources and crafting items to obtain rarer resources has a nice progression towards utter chaos. Storing resources and things shouldn’t suppose an issue if you build enough safes to keep everything well organized. If you ever run out of space, you can purchase land that also unlocks new content. Considering how one of the end goals in Forager is to unlock every piece of land available, strategizing on where to go next adds to the sense of progression.
Simple Yet Addictive Game Mechanics
I’ve always preferred using a mouse and keyboard over controllers. Forager is also a game that is rightfully designed with this setup in mind. Sometimes I had issues selecting items in my hot bar, but fortunately, you can deselect tools to unclutter it. One thing to note is that once I started upgrading my character’s movement speed, I quickly lost sense of its location on the map. However, the pixel-art style of the game fits the straightforward controls and, even when your screen is filled with resources and monsters, you can still understand what is going on.
While the game gives you a lot of flexibility to do whatever you want, the end goal is clear. You complete all feats, defeat the dungeon bosses, unlock all land spaces and complete the museum item bundles. Forager has 100+ achievements available, and I enjoyed unlocking them.
However, when I’m writing this Forager review, I haven’t defeated all bosses or completed the museum bundles. Why? Because I decided to stop playing and focus on other titles. However, I’ll give it a shot in the future to see how much time and effort it takes.
Ironically enough, puzzles and dungeons aren’t my favourite things in this type of game. After all, building structures and gathering resources are my jam. But they were obscure enough for me to scratch my head. I admit sometimes I tried to find tutorials online if I was stumped. They offer good rewards, and I can see the Legend of Zelda’s influence in them.
All Games Have a Downside
Of course, everything isn’t rose-tinted. Forager has an unmistakable style, and not all players might enjoy how progress-driven it is. The combat mechanics are as simple as pointing and shooting or attacking with your weapon since that’s not the focus in this title, and the boss fights don’t suppose a great challenge if you’ve already unlocked a few gear upgrades.
I don’t think this is the type of game you should tackle in long playing sessions, but instead, launch it and have some fun for an hour or so. Again, this game doesn’t pretend to be anything else than a 2D open-world game with some basic mechanics sprinkled on top. Managing expectations when starting to play Forager it’s crucial.
I tend to prioritize these types of games, mainly due to performance concerns with my laptop. However, I did have some lagging once I started filling out the map.
Once I checked to see whether there would be new patches to fix these performance issues, it appears that the game no longer receives updates after two years of its release. I’m unsure what the plans were beyond adding nuclear energy, but I hope we eventually hear more about HopFrog.
Forager is an indie game created out of love and pure dedication. I enjoyed every second of it, and I had a lot of fun whenever I needed to disengage from stressful days.
People have described the game as highly addictive, and I wholeheartedly agree with them. But the novelty can wear off quickly if you’re often playing, and after a while, there isn’t much you can explore. But, as a side note, you can unlock extra game modes specially tailored for speedrunners.
I especially liked how the developer added additional content once you reached milestone levels with your characters. My experience with Forager was fun, and I can see myself returning to start a new game after some time has passed. If you can grab it via Steam with some discount, I’d say go for it.