Forager is a cute crafting game recently released by Humble Bundle. Is their enough depth here to warrant a playthrough? Check out our review and find out.
As the name implies, Forager is a game about gathering materials and crafting. You start off on a single island with a few blueprints and a few resources to mine. Players take control of a little, nameless character with a pickaxe that can be customized with different outfits, hats, and even skins based on characters from Shovel Knight and Hollow Knight. Your first objective is to build a Forge with the stones you can find on your island. Doing this levels you up, and you then get to pick from a variety of different skills. The skills you choose determine what blueprints you unlock. That is the primary gameplay loop: gather, craft, level up, then craft new stuff. It took me about 15 hours to complete most of the objectives in the game.
As you craft new items and new buildings, you will run out of room on your first island. Using the gold you have hoarded up to that point, you can purchase a new island and expand. New islands are where the game gets interesting. These islands have NPCs with questlines, Zelda-style temples, new resources, different biomes (such as snow and fire), and puzzles a-plenty. The temples were a bit too easy for my liking, but the puzzle temples are real stumpers. Solving these puzzles will get you new artifacts and occasionally give you items to increase your stats. Both the puzzles and NPCs kept me going forward, making me wonder what was next.
The NPC side quests are pretty typical of the RPG genre, mainly tasking the player to collect items in exchange for a gift. Some of them require one item, while others have multiple steps. For instance, the princess on the desert island wants some Royal Cloth in exchange for a robe that will allow the player to get closer to animals without scaring them. The robe is very useful for people who need hide, eggs, wool, or just want to get close enough to kill the animal. Most of the NPCs give items like this, making each one of their quests worth doing.
Forager also has a museum, similar to the ones found in Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley. However, you have to find the museum in the world before you can donate to it. For each set of items you complete in the museum, you are given another reward. Those that complete them all will net themselves a huge bonus. Forager excels at keeping you hooked, waiting for the next item or puzzle. Despite this, my biggest issue with that game is how easy it is.
I haven’t mentioned enemies yet, even though they are present in the game. It is very tough to die in this game, unless you are actively trying to off yourself. Your typical slimes, demons, raging bulls, and skeletons pollute the map. By the time you have your sword, you can take them down in two or three hits and they miss quite often. The temples were easy as well, though the second to last sword was obtained by us at that point. I think the enemies in this game are mostly an afterthought, as you are meant to focus on the crafting and puzzles of the game.
During the early- and mid-game portion of Forager, I felt that the crafting and resources were managed well. However, in the last four or five hours I unlocked something called a mining laser. By placing the laser down, it automatically does all of the gathering for you. Now you can’t spam these; their price goes up each time you craft one. These lasers were the start of a slippery slope though, one that marked the end of the game for me. One laser is hardly noticeable, but with four or five, you hardly need to gather anything yourself. When I bought the last island, I had more resources then I could ever hope to use, and around 100k gold with nothing left to buy.
My last point here also ties into how easy the game is. Resources respawn quickly and daily. Early on in the game, they need to respawn fast because you have one or two islands. There are 49 islands in the game, and when you have them all, you screen is flooded with an endless torrent of XP and resources that are being gathered. I also had to turn the sound effects off because everywhere I went, things were exploding. A harder difficulty or even a resources slider would be a great addition to Forager.
Despite its lack of difficulty, our time with Forager was enjoyable to the very end. For those seeking out a new chill crafting game, Forager is worth your while.
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