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Review: Forager – PS4

Like the many upgrades in Forager, it’s a game that you appreciate more over time. It’s a grind-focused game with Stardew Valley influences that becomes very addictive. I found myself glued to my TV, losing hours at a time because I just wanted to unlock the next thing. It’s a good grind. It’s very charming, it’s a lot of fun and the retail version I reviewed comes with physical goodies. There’s only one thing that holds me back from giving it a full recommendation.

The fancy name for Forager’s style of gameplay is an “idle game”. You start on an island with a smile and a pickaxe that you will swing at literally everything for the rest of the game to collect resources to build new ways to use ever more complicated combinations of those resources. The point of impact can shift a little sometimes resulting in the death of more than a few pixel chickens or a more-challenging-than-necessary boss fight. However, it’s Forager’s pacing and steady stream of unlocks that will hook you in, even after a few missed swings.

Resources are the difference between life and death. The plucky main character in Forager has an energy bar that needs to be replenished with plants and animals. If you forget to eat or don’t have any food, you lose your hearts, and it’s game over. The more you collect, the more energy you’ll lose. It’s a pain to stop and eat in the beginning, but upgrades will let you expand the energy bar later.

Ores, wood and plants provide materials to upgrade just about everything. Your first tasks are building a furnace and forge to start crafting materials. You can use those to create new buildings to give you everything from extra light in the dark to giving you more options for crafting. The deep connections between items mean you’ll need to follow the ABCs – Always Be Collecting. Your inventory is limited but expandable if you find the right materials, and it can hold over a thousand of the same item in a single slot. You’ll still run out of space quickly.

Money is another resource you’ll need to collect or create. The primary use for coins is to purchase new squares of land. This expands your space for resource collection over four different biome types including grass, ice, desert and a spooky graveyard.

Beyond unique flora or fauna, each new area has a dungeon. They are not huge, but they offer a real change of pace. You explore and solve some puzzles to unlock the door to the boss. After the fight, you receive a reward that can boost your health, energy bar, damage or even let you level up immediately.

Each time you level up, you can pick a new skill from general categories related to foraging, industry, magic, and commerce. Each will allow you to meaningfully gain more resources, make more money, unlock a new building type or make spells and potions. I do wish the skill descriptions weren’t so vague. Sometimes, you just have to pick a skill to understand what it does and live with the consequences until the next time you level up.

Beyond the one dungeon, each area has multiple puzzles. These range from correctly hitting a sequence of switches to lighting some braziers on fire. A giant chest will appear and often would contain a new item to help me gain experience or slowly refill my health. A few of them are crafty, and, once again, add some variety beyond simple collecting.

The visual style is cartoony and has little animations for your industrial machines or the swaying of plants. It’s smooth and the different biomes give you some variety here, too. The presentation and infrequent in-game text with other characters is excellent overall.

There’s only one problem that’s holding the game back; it’s really big, and you might never encounter it. After playing for around nine hours, I had a corrupted save file. The file can only be deleted, and you lose all your progress. After a quick search online, I found other players who encountered the same issue.

My second playthrough was uneventful. I restarted the game and played until all lands were conquered and all puzzles solved. I unlocked everything to reach the somewhat abrupt end, and I was a resource collecting god. Some updates from the PC version are coming to consoles in a few months, including more end game content, so maybe a fix is coming. Until then, it might be a save file Russian roulette.

For collectors, I received the physical version that’s releasing on October 29th, and it includes a poster and stickers. I’ll put a couple of pictures at the bottom of the review, so you can see them. It’s a nice addition over just offering you a disc in a box. Sure, it’s small, but that just makes me wonder why more companies aren’t doing it.

Forager is a really good game that nails the grind and reward formula while throwing in enough puzzles, dungeons, and new areas to keep it from becoming stale. It’s a game that you might not appreciate until you start playing, but then you’re hooked and wondering how you’re going to function in the morning after staying up so late. Unfortunately, an issue that could corrupt save files forces me to stop short at a cautious recommendation.

Forager PS4 Review
  • Overall - Good - 6/10
    6/10
6/10

Summary

Forager breaks up its grind with dungeons, puzzles, and frequent rewards that elevate the entire experience into something much more than your average “idle game”. With it’s simple, cartoony world, there is a sense of adventure and push to see what new lands lie just beyond your reach. It’s a great package that made my free time disappear.

There are some minor problems with aiming (RIP chickens) and vague skill definitions, but the looming threat of a corrupted save file is the real problem. If it doesn’t happen, you’ll love this game. If it does, you’ll have to decide whether you love it enough to replay everything from the beginning.

Pros

  • The grind/reward pacing is excellent
  • The world and visual presentation are very charming
  • Very addictive

Cons

  • Targeting with bows and pickaxe can sometimes be hard to see
  • Skills definitions are too vague
  • Potential save file corruption
  • No way to pause the game without exiting

Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a physical copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy. 

Reviewed using PS4 Pro.

The physical version of Forager with stickers and a poster can be purchased from your favorite retailer (Amazon, Best Buy, Target, GameStop, etc.), and it will run you $29.99 USD. 

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