Developed By: HopFrog
Published By: Humble Bundle
Category: Open World/Crafting/Exploration
Release Date: 07.30.2019
Forager is a 2D, open world, exploration game in which you will be crafting and resource gathering your way to a self-made base and expansion. With several inspirations from Minecraft to Stardew Valley to The Legend of Zelda you will have a ton to do and a unique set-up with which to do it. Don’t let the top-down pixel art fool you, this one is seriously deep and filled with content, and is a bright spot of the indie catalogue the Nintendo Switch boasts.
There isn’t much when it comes to story, as you are pretty much just plopped into a tiny open area with a pickaxe and told to start hacking away at things that pop up around you. You are playing to discover the world, not the story. There are some Easter eggs and secrets hidden about, but overall you are playing with the environment and crafting your own story. A whole lot of crafting included in this one.
Speaking of crafting, we have a system that is quite the mix between basic gathering from Minecraft and stations like used in Stardew Valley. You run around breaking up trees and rocks with the occasional upgraded resource spawning. The amount of resources that you will get into picking up as you progress is a little daunting, especially if you are also running a full farm and grinding out enemy drops. With this metric ton of random loot, you will then take it to designated building stations where you will craft it into the next item you need to progress. In this way the progression again mimics that of Minecraft, where you are locked out from gathering certain resources based on your equipment, as well as you overall level and skill selection. My one recommendation is to give in to the growth. I am a bit OCD with games like this and am 100% that person who will rip down all the growth from my farm in Stardew Valley before even really starting on farming because I don’t like the clutter. You cannot do that here — you will lose. The spawns happen very quickly, and you will only have a clear screen on your starting island for a short while before finding the work you have done has been ruined by a couple ores and flowers. Even though this fight can be won for a bit in the early days, you will find your islands becoming a wilderness as you open several expansions.
Expansions are this games way of increasing the size of the “open world”. You only start with a tiny area, but with gold you acquire in various ways you can purchase expansions that open the game world up way more than you might expect at the get-go. It’s pretty impressive how far you can go, and I almost lost it when I first discovered the first new biome and realized this was going to be a game I would lose myself in. You can open up the first few islands fairly cheaply, but you will have to come up with a good source of building up the economy in order to really make a long distance go at this one. However, the game really can be spent in those first areas if you aren’t looking for that and you can casually work towards upgraded equipment, doing quests for the islands couple of residents, or through the local museum that takes in bulk groupings of resources you gather or create — like Animal Crossing. This might take away from the open world description the game boasts, as there is gating, but this allowed me to only progress when I was truly ready, rather than launching me into a world I couldn’t handle.
As you gather these resources you will find yourself gaining experience points and levels that unlock ability points. You have a large, hidden tech tree that opens up new stations to be built, increases XP gain, or allows for other crafting abilities or recipes. This is where you can choose the game you want to play. Farming, minion grinding, high-level banking, trading and markets, and the like are all options you can branch out into and it will take you being a high level before you can get to all of these options so you will have to think about what exactly it is you will want to do, as well as what will make your progression the easiest. While you do have some options to go with, you pretty much have to consider how to get coin, as that is the resource that is most necessary in order to really move forward. You can simply grind out gold ore, turn it into gold bars, and then craft it into coin, but this process is slow and a bit tedious if you don’t also pump it up with upgraded abilities. Options that all lead to the same conclusion aren’t as much of an option, but I love that I can choose whether I would prefer to grow hot peppers and sell them in the market or just whack away at ore on my islands over and over. Different moods welcome.
Upgraded equipment is necessary in order to increase the speed at which you do things, as well as opens up a whole bunch of other ways to play. You start with your trusty pickaxe that is used for all resource gathering, but as you move along you can also get into shovels that discover hidden objects and are necessary for farming, as well as spell scrolls and many other tools. Yes, there is magic in this game as well. This all makes the game even deeper than it already was and it can be a lot to learn. This game really sucks the hours from you.
Boss battles, dungeons, and secrets await you in the long game, but is a part of the game you could surprisingly miss out on entirely if you aren’t strict in your progression and run out of time or move on before the hours have been put in. This is the game that keeps on giving and I never wanted to stop taking.
Forager is a game I couldn’t put down. With a seriously deep crafting and progression system paired with a lot of freedom of choice on top of a pace that is set by the player you have a perfect title for taking away all your free time. I forgot what day it was playing this game and I didn’t regret it. There isn’t much in the flaw department as the game is very well-crafted, looks great, and runs well. If you aren’t into games with a grind and a long haul then this is a game you will probably miss out on the full experience with, but if you’ve put in hours or days on any of the other major crafter/resource gatherer titles out there then this will be another one to add to your collection. And with major updates still coming this is one that will only be getting better.
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The retail edition is courtesy of distributor Nighthawk Interactive and is available on Oct. 29 for $29.99 at all major North American retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Gamestop.
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