Having been released on Steam a few months ago, the Switch now also has his joy cons wrapped around the foraging game Forager. Having looked at the foundations of games like Minecraft and Terraria, Developer HopFrog seems to have build a solid foundation to bring joy to many builders out there.
Forager starts the same as many other survival / mining games: with almost nothing. You start on a small pixel-like island, with little information about how you got there or what you should do. Fortunately you still have a pickaxe with you. With this you will soon notice that you can chop the trees and stones in small pieces, after which the game tells you that you can use it to make other things. Not long after that you are the proud owner of a home-made brick oven and anvil, and then the game really starts.
From the moment you have a brick oven you will be able to earn money. First you will have to do this by turning gold into coins, but later you will be able to do that in different ways. With gold, however, you unlock the most important part of the game: buying land. Like I said, you start on a small island, and although the resources continue to grow, the type of resources and space are limited. With money you can buy new pieces of land, which then magically appear next to your island. In addition to new resources, these new islands can also contain treasures, puzzles, quests and even small dungeons similar to Zelda.
However, in order to be well prepared to discover these new islands, you will have to level. Forager differs from other games in this by making the features that you can make depend on levels. With each level you get one skill point, which you can use in an ever-increasing skilltree. The skills are divided into four categories, and unlocking a skill gives you bonuses and new recipes in that area. For example, you have Foraging with which vegetables spawn faster, you will be able to make food or, for example, you can install automatic sprinklers. Industry skills ensure automating mining (such as a mining rod that does it for you) and skills in the economy tree provide new ways to make money. Finally you have Magic, with which you learn how to make potions to help you out during battles.
Fortunately, almost everything you do gives EXP. Beat a monster? Exp. Do you grow vegetables? Exp. Break that stone into small pieces? Exp. It is not much, but you will have a stable flow of EXP all the time. Which ensures that you have progress no matter what you do, a good way to lure you in just a bit more and keep on playing just a little .. long while longer.
That can also occasionally be a problem. At dead moments, Forager almost turns into an idle game. There is a lot to do and discover, but at some point you will have to farm to get better. Maybe you are done discovering and you need money to buy a new piece of land. Or maybe you are waiting for that new skill, for which you will really have to level. At such moments you can unfortunately do nothing but wait. It does not happen often, but especially for people who aren’t the best at planning ahead and inventory management dead moments can definitely occur.
Fortunately, Forager is doing its best to counter this. It quickly gives you upgrades to make the game run smoother, and it also gives you different ways to keep you busy. For example, there is a museum that wants to exhibit every item in the game (some of which collect 50 times …) and it has achievements with which you unlock new costumes and other trifles. (including a comic about how Forager came to be … super cute, and it shows how much love there is in this game!) Interestingly, you can see from the start what you can collect. For example, you immediately know that there are 64 treasures in the game. You may not know where they are and what they do, but you know they are there. This gives motivation to continue; maybe you will find a new treasure on that next island!
Graphically, Forager is simple, but effective. It maintains a pixelated style with clear colors that show exactly what is what. The top down perspective works great, and in some cases gives you the impression that you are playing an old Zelda game. The only pity is that the soundtrack is pretty lacklustre: after all those hours of farming you would like to hear some new tunes now and then.
All in all, Forager is a fun indie game that combines survival and building in a fun way. The way it does this is addictive, because you keep unlocking new things at a calm but steady pace. The game ensures that you want to keep playing because .. what am I going to find on that new island? New treasures? A boss who gives me a new suit by beating? At times you will find that it can be a bit dead, especially if you have a bad planning or you have to wait for a certain skill or resource. Fortunately, this never lasts very long, and those who can see through it will find a nice building game where you can entertain yourself for hours.
Forager is a great and fun building game that just keeps on giving, with only seldomly a quiet moment.