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Game review: 'Forager,' stay up on that grind

Games bring out the hoarder in me. I like to break pots and collect gems in just about every adventure I set out on.

© Courtesy Steam/TNS/TNS Forager knows exactly when to mete out new materials and allow you to spread out beyond the small stretch of land before you when you first drop into the game.

By Brittany Vincent, Tribune News Service

Games bring out the hoarder in me. I like to break pots and collect gems in just about every adventure I set out on. As a result, I tend to run out of inventory space nearly instantly. That’s okay, though. That means I’m always prepared to build something or craft something when I need it later.

“Forager” is an adorable affair that feeds that instinct in me. It allows me to collect the goodies up for grabs and rewards me for doing just that. And for that and many other reasons, I found myself enamored with this charming little adventure, even if most of my time was spent aimlessly clicking in search of some sort of tangible (or otherwise) reward. It’s kind of like spending hours on the internet already, right?

EXTREME HOARDING

“Forager” plunks you down in a colorful pixelated world rife with things to collect. Immediately, you start clicking around you on the various icons on screen. On the tiny beginning island after you start a new game, the entirety of the world stretches out before you. There’s so much to do, and seemingly so little time. The only thing to do is get started doing it.

And so you’re handed a pickaxe and told to start digging. For the first stretch of the game, you’re expected to harvest and harvest until your fingers bleed. Think about the first night you spent in “Minecraft” trying to build a house to protect yourself from all the encroaching mobs in the darkness. It’s a lot like that, only you’re building up to an incredible amount of different goals that you’ll eventually complete. As you spend a while tapping away, you begin to see a figurative path forming before you, and the game nudges you toward it.

You’ve got a limited inventory to begin with, so you won’t be able to carry as many items as you need to make the progress you want to. It also takes forever to get into the groove and harvesting can take a long time when you first get started. But you need that momentum to push you to continue playing. If everything were handed to you at the beginning of the game, you wouldn’t feel as though you’d made any real progression. Thus, “Forager” knows exactly when to mete out new materials and allow you to spread out beyond the small stretch of land before you when you first drop into the game.

© Courtesy Steam/TNS/TNS Forager plunks you down in a colorful pixelated world rife with things to collect.

GO WEST, YOUNG FORAGER

Yes, there’s more to see than the tiny island that you appear on at the beginning of “Forager” — lots more than you would initially guess, too. Eventually, as you work your way through the rocks, trees, and other resources laid out on the island in front of you, you’ll run out of space. Even though the early part of the game is slow-going, you will eventually grow out of your space. That’s when you need to use up some of the coins you’ve earned while clicking, harvesting, and earning experience while completing tasks. You’ll earn additional tiles that are added to the map that come with unique resources.

As you continue to level up, you’ll earn more experience and skill points that you can allot into four different pools: Industrial, Economic, Farming, and Magical. Spending skill points in these groups will ensure you can unlock additional structures to build on your little plot of land and see your character progression slowly climb. For instance, a boring old regular pickaxe you used to cut through wood can do a much more efficient job when imbued with fire. You’ll earn a ton of these little perks as you become stronger, which makes “Forager” such an exciting prospect to play in bursts. You feel yourself becoming more formidable, and you’re pushed to come back and play even longer the next time around.

Occasionally, you’ll be met with puzzle tiles that require you to figure things out to earn goodies and experience. Some map tiles have NPCs that will offer you quests to complete. Unfortunately, a lot of them are fetch quests, but many are varied enough and require you to figure out how to craft or harvest certain things, so they liven the game up from time to time.

Later on in-game, you’ll be met with a variety of dungeons. While they’re exciting to see pop up from time to time, they aren’t particularly challenging. Unfortunately, they’re some of the more bland pieces of the game that “Forager” presents as a whole, when they should be big, impressive spectacles. While each dungeon is rife with secrets to uncover, they’re also great showcases for how particularly underdeveloped the enemies in the game are. They may as well not exist with how ridiculously simple they are to fell, which is felt particularly when exploring dungeons. With lukewarm combat like what’s showcased in “Forager,” at least in this stage of the game, it’s understandable that dungeons were downplayed (hopefully just for now).

BIT BY BIT

“Forager” is very much a game that’s meant for short bursts of play. Chipping away at a goal for long stretches of time is the goal here, and though I played it on PC, it would be right at home on Nintendo Switch — which it’s still coming to at a later date. I would recommend “Forager” in a heartbeat to anyone who’s deeply enamored with crafting, exploration, and the pixel aesthetic. It can take some time to get going and the grind may be frustrating for some, but for others who love seeing their characters grow, it’s a breath of fresh air.

While it isn’t without a few faults, it’s very much an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon or two with, then return to later in the week to see how much more you can take on. I’m all about the grind in my day-to-day life, so seeing something similar in such a fun and rewarding little game was right up my alley. I’ll definitely be picking up a copy when it debuts on Switch.

This review is based on a PC download code provided by the publisher. “Forager” is available now via Steam. It has been rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.




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Kids Magazine: Game review: 'Forager,' stay up on that grind
Game review: 'Forager,' stay up on that grind
Games bring out the hoarder in me. I like to break pots and collect gems in just about every adventure I set out on.
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