My initial thoughts of Forager were mixed, and that was before I ever got my hands on it. It looked interesting, but at the same time, it looked…basic. But when my Nintendo Switch review version came in the mail, and I had to review it, I realized that you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or say, a game by its trailer.
So what is Forager? Simply put, it’s a pixelated version of any survival / farming simulation game you’ve ever played before. Get resources, create materials, build buildings, get weapons, etc. It’s basic, yes, but it’s somehow intriguing and gripping. The first time I played, for example, I sunk 3 hours without even thinking about it.
Early on you will be using basic tools to hack and slash a handful of resources available on your starting island, but as you buy more islands and raise your character level, different resources will spawn, new things will become available to craft, and the games complexity will take a slight shift higher. Managing your first island will be easy, as will the next 4 or 5, but soon you will have 10, 15, 20+ islands to explore, each with their own unique biome, which means unique resources.
There are also plenty of other things to do as well, such as exploring dungeons. Every so often you will buy an island with a dungeon on it, and beating that dungeon will net you some cool rewards. In fact, everything in Forager can net you rewards in some way, especially if said action is tied to an achievement. Each time you complete an in-game achievement, you’ll unlock some new cosmetic items to decorate your little forager in, which is a nice, subtle touch to the game.
Forager is a pretty hard game to review – there isn’t a whole lot to it. Unlike in other games like Stardew Valley and Doraemon Story of Seasons, there isn’t a town to visit here, few characters to interact with, and no real story that needs to be completed. It’s just crafting, expanding, and making yourself better today, than you were yesterday. New items, new buildings, new tools, and new crops. It’s all about unlocking what’s next, and using your skill tree to maximize your yields.
While mining and crafting is at the heart of Forager, I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t push the biggest feature: enjoyable exploration. Ultimately, I think that is what Forager is all about. Unlocking new islands is like walking into a candy store filled with sweets you’ve never heard of before. Every island is new and exciting, bringing new quest givers, and more importantly, new dungeons.
And that is where the game veers away from Stardew Valley and Terraria, and towards something a bit more like Zelda. You’ll wander through these dungeons, sword a swinging, looking to find the end, defeat whatever waits for you, and collecting the treasure. This really sets Forager on it’s own path, at least on Nintendo Switch, where a game like this doesn’t really exist yet.
Because it lacks that overarching story, many people might be turned off by the entire experience. I believe, however, that the ability to instantly jump into the game, and explore by your own free will, is the major selling feature here. It won’t be for everyone, but I think the majority of Nintendo Switch owners will find something here they will really love!