Forager successfully blends addicting harvesting gameplay with solid dungeon crawling, making it a shining gem well worth unearthing.
Forager pulls off the admirable feat of turning seemingly busy work into an engaging good time. As the world’s cutest miner, you’ll spend your time gathering resources, crafting items, and exploring labyrinths in this amalgamation of farming sims and dungeon crawlers. Like forging that coveted tool, the final product winds up being worth the time and effort put into it.
Chopping wood, mining gems, and slaying enemies to gather building materials has a primal satisfaction to it. These activities become more rewarding (and less tedious) thanks to useful upgrades for your pickaxe and sword. An unexpectedly fun powertrip can be had in clearing dense forests with just a couple of hits, despite the slowdown that sometimes accompanies such mass destruction. Down the line you’ll construct machines, such as mining rods, that can autonomously collect materials. A satisfying late game comes in kicking back, putting your hands behind your head, and watching your production facilities do the heavy lifting for you.
Several avenues exist for maximizing your yield, and Forager’s flexibility allows you to engage in as many or few of these systems as you see fit. Maybe you’d like to focus on farming crops and raising animals. Perhaps you’re more inclined to earn coin with the help of brewed potions and other magic-based enhancements. A nice variety exist, though the game does let go of your hand a little too early when it comes to explaining its systems. It’d also be great if you could tag specific items in-progress; it’s easy to lose track of what you’re working towards since you’re often gathering ingredients for multiple projects. Crafted goods have a depth of value, whether it be from selling or donating to a museum that rewards players for making most of the game’s recipes. No matter how useless the item may seem, you can always put it towards something meaningful.
Finding the fun in Forager, like many games of its ilk, ultimately comes from setting your own goals. Whether it’s making larger bags to increase inventory slots or a building a full-on power plant, there’s always something meaningful to work towards. However, the game also provides a nice finish line for more linear-focused players, namely in unlocking all of the islands. Everything you do earns coins used to acquire new land masses that sport unique biomes as well as dungeons and quest-giving NPCs. Essentially grinding to earn new content works as an effective carrot to chase; just when you’re getting bored of the same map, odds are you’ve accrued enough money to open up, say, a treasure-laden maze. Most side quests function as simple collection missions, though a few more clever tasks round out the experience. One humorous standout involves taking a fourth wall-breaking quiz about the game itself.
The simple dungeons won’t blow away veterans of series such as The Legend of Zelda (a series Forager borrows inspiration from), but they provide a welcome break from the standard grind. They’re adequately designed and generally revolve around unsurprising tropes, such as lining up reflective lasers. Bosses, however, are disappointingly across the board, sometimes to the point of appearing broken. One seemingly formidable foe didn’t even start attacking until half of its health had been hacked away. The real challenge comes in the entirely puzzle-centric breed of temples. These mental arenas compliment the game’s manual labor by presenting genuinely perplexing riddles that test the mind.
When your operations pump out materials like a well-oiled machine and you’re swimming in crafted goods, Forager becomes fun and rewarding time. The early grind pays off sooner than later, and the work rarely feels aimless thanks to a plethora of goals to chase. You don’t have to dig too deep to unearth the fun in this little gem.
Forager is available for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Screen Rant was provided a physical PS4 copy for the purposes of this review.