Forager review - quietly bewitching survival

By Olly Smith. Posted

I’m not as much of an outdoors person as I used to be. I’ve been camping a few times, but the bulk of my outside adventuring came when I would play in creeks and woodland as a youth.

In many ways, Forager reawakens that sense of childlike wonder in the natural world. It’s an exploration of how beautiful nature can be.

You’re a lone scavenger existing in a land untouched by modern society. Piece by piece, you create industrial structures like forges and furnaces, allowing you to craft items, but the meat of the action comes about through exploration of the world and performing other activities such as cutting down trees, killing enemies, and solving puzzles.

Because, despite being referred to as an ‘idle game’ – and keeping many hallmarks of the genre – Forager takes some cues from the Legend of Zelda series, with exploration and combat being a key focus. This doesn’t mean loot and crafting isn’t important. It totally is, and it doesn’t save the game from becoming a massive grind.

While there’s enough variety during the opening hours, you’ll have already built most of the buildings and materials by the tenth hour of play, with only a few final upgrades you need to work towards.

To break this up, there are many locations dotted around the map that offer rare artefacts to increase your stats. There are temples which behave similarly to Zelda’s dungeons, where you must travel through a winding maze, defeat a boss, and receive a substantial reward. You can also encounter NPCs who request items. You usually need to craft these, further emphasising the grind.

It’d be more interesting if each boss had a unique attack pattern attached to it.

It’s a shame Forager’s pacing feels so rough, because its combat isn’t any more fun. Fighting enemies is too easy, with all attacks being comfortably avoidable. Even the dungeon bosses don’t feel threatening, as their attack patterns are predictable and countered with ease. It’s a survival game that isn’t difficult to survive in.

You need to eat to keep up an energy bar that’s slowly ticking down, except food is an abundance rather than a rarity, making consumption a frequent annoyance rather than a struggle.

Still, I think there’s something to admire here. No matter how much you pollute the environment with your constructions, Forager refuses to loosen its embrace of the natural world. Wait long enough, and the trees, rocks, and flowers will repopulate and overwhelm the land.

Your carbon footprint is always temporary, as the game’s natural world returns to its own, quietly bewitching equilibrium.

Highlight

There’s a moment in Forager where you find a family of anthropomorphic beets, dancing away in the sunshine. “We love you,” they say proudly. They then gift you a reward. It’s a minor but extremely wholesome encounter.

Verdict: 57%

There’s a fun crafting experience to be had here, but a large grind and dissatisfying combat system prevent Forager from reaching its full potential.

Info

Genre: Survival
Format: PC (tested) / Switch
Developer: HopFrog
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Price: £14.99
Release: Out now

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