‘Forager’ Review: A Very Charming Gamified To-Do List

     October 28, 2019

At first glance, there’s a lot to love about Forager. There’s the cute sprites, the colorful worlds, the familiar gameplay mechanics, and the open-world setting. It’s a successful formula that has made it a favorite among Steam players, with well over 10,000 very positive or overwhelmingly positive reviews in less than a year of official release. The more recent PS4 port over, released this fall, keeps everything that people love about Forager intact. That’s great news for folks who want this title on console or are going to be checking it out for the first time. But for yours truly, what was pitched as a game in the vein of Stardew Valley, Terraria and Zelda started off strong before quickly becoming tedious and uninteresting. YMMV.

Forager is a 2D open world game that encourages exploration, farming, and crafting in order to improve your base, skills, equipment, network of friends (and enemies) to carve your own path forward. The game encourages different playstyles and multiple playthroughs to get the full experience. In Forager, you can:

  • Forage, fish, mine, hunt, dig, farm, gather, collect and manage resources.
  • Plant and grow all sorts of veggies, flowers, fruits, and herbs.
  • Craft useful items & structures and upgrade your equipment to venture into 4 distinct dungeons to face off against mighty bosses.
  • Build and grow a base out of nothing. Buy land to expand and explore. Place decorations and create roads to make travel easier.
  • Animals are awesome! Pet them, feed them, and take care of them and they will love you forever!
  • Level up and learn new skills, abilities, and blueprints. Solve puzzles, find secrets and raid dungeons or build and empire through trade and aggressive expansion.
  • Achieve anything you want! The choice is yours, set your own goals to work towards!

Sounds great, right? It can be, for the right player. Check out this trailer below to see if it’s your style:

The highly popular and quirky “idle game that you want to actively keep playing”. Explore, craft, gather, buy land, find secrets and build your base out of nothing.

Here’s the thing: I gave Forager quite a few chances to grab me. Multiple playthroughs, some during bouts of insomnia, had me refining my approach to base-building and character-leveling. But I quickly ran out of steam. Why? Because unlike Stardew Valley, there was no compelling narrative or meaningful interactions with NPCs to give me a reason to care; neither was there a built-in rest period that forced my brain to push pause and reset. Forager is relentless by design. That’s fine for hyper-attentive folks who want nothing more than checking off boxes in a game (which is usually me), but when real life demands much of the same thing as just as relentless a pace, Forager is too much straw on this ol’ camel’s back.

In short, I just didn’t enjoy it. Simple as that. The mechanics are great: Building, crafting, farming, and combat are intuitive and relatively simple to pick up and master. The world is somewhat interesting: I don’t particularly like the fact that you just earn enough gold to buy plots of land that pop up in the water around you rather than a more natural sort of exploration, like Minecraft or Terraria, but it’s like a little game of chance every time a new plot arrives. As for endgame … I wish I could tell you. I’m still playing Stardew Valley all this time later and even with that game I have to take long stretches away in between bouts of playing. But Forager is better left to younger players or those with more free time to fritter away.

Rating: ★★★ Good

The retail edition is courtesy of distributor Nighthawk Interactive and is available now at all major North American retailers, including GameStop (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation), Amazon (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation), Best Buy (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation) and Target (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation).

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