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Forager is an open world survival game that places most of its focus on foraging and crafting. Beginning on a single island, expand the world around you by levelling up, learning new skills and using your gathered resources to build and create. Keep going and you may uncover a few secrets along the way.

Gameplay

Forager is a topdown openworld dungeon crawling action game (that’s a lot of genres) that takes what is best about those genres and adds in survival and crafting features. Scour the world in search of materials and treasures so that you can continue to grow.

Forager has great RPG growth mechanics with an XP levelling system that provides you with Skill Points in order to upgrade four basic skill sets: Industry (building/crafting), Economy, Foraging and Magic. Continuing to forage gives you more XP, which allows you to level up, giving you more skills and materials to forage which goes back into your XP and allows you to further expand on your journey forward… it’s like a circle!

The game has a stamina meter that you need to constantly keep an eye on. You will get many warnings when the meter gets low, such as “I’m Hungry” and “I am Exhausted”. To recover stamina, start off by eating berries that you also need to forage for from bushes and trees, but this quickly expands to a full cooking arsenal. If you ignore your stamina meter when it is empty, you will still be able to make actions but you will proceed to take damage.

Don’t be too concerned about being conservative with the materials that you’ve foraged. Time passes quickly and new trees, rocks, ore, etc. will continue to automatically spawn. The world of Forager is your oyster!

Forager could have been a very dull and mundane game if the character that you control was slow and unintuitive. Luckily, the little man is swift and easy to control, allowing for quick movement that doesn’t feel like a chore. You can also upgrade your movement and attacking speed as you progress. That being said, some shortcut buttons would have been handy for healing and other such actions as every time you wish to do so, you need to go into and rifle through your inventory.

As you continue to explore through the game, you can acquire and equip Accessories, Seals and Artifacts. These provide upgrades and stat bonuses, providing a greater feeling of progression.

The more that you expand the world and continue to level up, the more enemies appear. Hunting creatures is yet another way to expand on your foraging, opening up new crafting pathways and opportunities.

Forager is surprisingly addictive and very difficult to put down. Many times I found myself playing to all hours of the night or wanting my bus to circle the block a couple more times. The great thing about this Switch port is that it doesn’t drain much of the Switch’s battery as it’s not a very taxing game, so you can forage for hours on end.

For the completionists, the game has a museum that allows you to donate some of your findings. There are EIGHT different categories that you can fill out and doing so rewards you with a surprise. Also if you fill out the entire museum gallery, you get an even bigger reward – but no spoilers here.

Despite all the praise we have given Forager so far, rarely is a game devoid of flaws. For one, I occasionally found it fifficult to lock on to an object. This would often result in me chopping at something I didn’t want to and as you can also chop down your own structures to dismantle them, it created some frustrating moments. This also makes the combat not as intuitive as you’d like it to be, making for some cheap deaths.

Like some survival games, the game doesn’t pause as you rifle through your inventory. This mostly isn’t an issue as you can quickly go in and out of your inventory, however I did have a few moments where a slime spawned next to me and jumped to attack as I was trying to organise the contents in my bag.

Managing coin finances within the game can also be a bit cumbersome. Coins are crucial to the game’s progress as they are needed to expand the map. You can collect coins in a few different ways: Banks that slowly accumulate coins for you to collect, creating coins from gold ingots at the anvil or selling your items. The latter is where it gets a little frustrating as there is a skill that you can unlock which allows you to sell your items when you drop them. The issue with this is that you can only sell the ENTIRE amount, so if you have 800 wooden logs and you want to earn some coin from them, it’s all or nothing. There is an alternative to this as you can sell smaller amounts at the Market, however you can only sell the entire amount or ONE AT A TIME. Very tedious. Many times did I question why I couldn’t choose to sell specific amounts.

Despite the game feeling smooth, I experienced some horrendous frame rate dips in certain dungeons throughout the game. Not much was happening on screen at the time, the entire game just slowed down like it was in slow motion. It made traversing through a particular ice dungeon that much more frustrating.

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HD Rumble is a feature that certainly wasn’t overlooked when porting Forager to Nintendo Switch. You feel it the most when selling items as you need to hold down the button to confirm the action – with the intensity gradually increasing. The other time the controller comes alive is when you’re foraging or engaging in combat, making each action feel just that little bit more rewarding. The downside to the HD Rumble is when you unlock and start building Mining Rods. These structures are incredibly convenient as they shoot trees, rocks and foliage within its radius in order to clear out and automatically collect materials. However when Rumble is on, it vibrates every single time one goes off (which is a lot), so your controller will constantly be buzzing, losing any intuition that it gave. I turned it off halfway through the game.

World Design

Forager takes a very interesting approach to its open world gameplay as in order to expand your world and explore further, you are required to buy land with coins that you collect. When buying land, you can choose whichever direction you wish to expand towards (as long as you have the required amount of coins). Expanding your land provides you with more possibilities to find new materials and expand your crafting repertoire.

Some areas can be more difficult to access as the layout of the world isn’t always as flat as the starting areas. To reach some areas in order to find treasure and other such goodies, you need to build bridges, which is a neat little mechanic and provides the feeling of creating your own world.

As is expected in a topdown action adventure game, Forager features dungeons that are uncovered by buying more land. These dungeons get increasingly difficult the further out the land is from the centre. However, the dungeons are either overly simplistic, downright uninspired or can be a real chore to get through.

Story

I wouldn’t say that Forager has a story per se, however it does have NPCs that you can interact with the more land that you buy. These NPCs generally have seemingly random requests, often completely unrelated to any kind of main plot

As you achieve more in the game, you complete feats and unlock some side content that can be accessed under Extras on the main menu. These consist of heartwarming comics of both the character, the developer and the development process of the game itself. They’re a neat touch that are fun to flick through upon completion.

Graphics / Art Direction

The graphics are simplistic and colourful, which is plain to see from the trailer and screenshots above. Instead of having shading details, Forager has opted to go with bright and flat colours that makes everything pop. Forager has used colour to distinguish the difficulty level of each block of land that you purchase. It’s a nice touch that adds both variety and a subconscious indicator of land’s enemies and the resources that you can gather.

Music / Sound Design

Forager’s soundtrack is sweet and simple, without taking too much attention away from the gameplay. The track shifts as the day turns to night, avoiding repetition and allowing you to subconsciously gain a better perspective on the time of day. It’s nothing special, but it gets the job done.

Final Score: 77%

Forager is a beautifully crafted and wonderfully addictive game; one where you go to bed at 11pm, take out your Switch for ten minutes and realise it’s suddenly 3am. Most of its shortcomings can seemingly be fixed with patch updates, providing a better quality of life experience, but as it stands at the time of this review, they keep the game from reaching to its potential.

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Posted by Alex Harding