what we’re playing: ‘forager’ combines exploration with idle games

HopFrog

I’m a sucker for any video game that involves acquiring resources, crafting, and exploring. Forager ticks all those boxes and then some. It’s been my go-to relaxation game over the past month or so, and it’s honestly giving Stardew Valley a run for its money.

Released in 2019, Forager immediately had good reviews from critics and the public. I think I’ve had it on my Steam wishlist ever since it was originally released, but I never got around to buying it because I always had other things to play.

Then, with my new Lenovo laptop purchase, I got three free months of Xbox Game Pass. When I was browsing through available games, Forager stuck out, and I’m so incredibly happy I finally gave it a try. With this game, I finally found the outlet I’ve been looking for after playing the crap out of Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Terraria, and other similar games.

I Love the Art Style

what we’re playing: ‘forager’ combines exploration with idle games

HopFrog

An art style doesn’t necessarily make or break a video game, but considering how many hours you spend with a game, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a pleasing art style. Forager has a pixel art style that’s similar to Stardew Valley or Terraria. There’s something simple yet charming, about this art style.

You’d think that after seeing so many indie games adopt the pixel art style, I’d get sick of it, but nope! It’s a simple art style, but it’s charming and nostalgic.

Gameplay: A Combo of Stardew Valley, Terraria, and Idle Games

When I first saw this game, I thought it was essentially a clone of Stardew Valley, just another farming sim with a slightly different premise. While Forager is reminiscent of Stardew Valley in some ways, like the ability to farm, craft, and decorate your place the way you want, it’s also unique.

With Stardew Valley, there’s a clear sense of what you should do first and certain quests to follow in order. Forager isn’t like that. Instead, you’re given a very basic tutorial on collecting resources, and then it’s up to you to figure out how you want to expand and streamline your processes. You gather materials like stone, ore, wood, berries, cotton, or flowers to craft more tools and machines to make your base more livable.

You start on a single piece of land that’s covered in resources to mine. And as soon as you mine one resource, another randomly generated resource pops up to take its place. It’s not always instantaneous, but if you wait about five minutes, your whole piece of land will be covered in minable materials again. As you go through the game, you can build roads to put down and prevent new resources from spawning, so you have a walkable path at all times.

what we’re playing: ‘forager’ combines exploration with idle games

HopFrog

From your starter piece of land, you can buy land in four different directions, as you can see in the photo above. Every time you buy a new piece of land to expand your base, you can buy any land above, below, to the right, or to the left of that new piece. If you don’t see an adjacent piece of land available to purchase, you know you’ve reached the end of the map. For me, and I assume many people, the ultimate goal is to buy all the available land.

That said, there are a ton of other smaller goals to achieve throughout the game. With every piece of new land you purchase, there’s a chance it could house a dungeon or a person with a fetch quest for you. Some dungeons are single rooms with one puzzle to solve, while others have multiple rooms and more complicated puzzles.

Then, there’s a museum collection with eight sections to complete in exchange for treasure chests. Or, if you want to craft one of everything before putting a game down, there’s a ton of stuff to craft. There are the basics that any game with crafting has, like a forge, a mill, and a furnace, but you can also craft multiple weapons, gold to help you buy new land, a factory, a power plant, and an offshore oil drill. You can even build locomotives and craft railroad tracks for it to follow a custom path through your base.

In some ways, Forager also reminded me of a game my husband recently played called Factorio, where you have to build a rocket to end the game, but there are a million different ways to get there and make the game your own.

It’s So Easy to Play For Hours

If you’ve ever played an idle game on your smartphone, you know there’s usually a point at which it gets old. For some people, that time comes very early in the game, and for others, it’s when it becomes too hard to progress without constantly checking in. While many mobile idle games, you have to pay for in-app purchases if you want to go faster; Forager has no such paywall.

As long as you have food in your inventory to keep your energy up, you can mine endless resources and keep playing for as long as you want. Even though I never intended to, there were multiple times when I would think I’d only been playing for an hour when I’d actually been playing for four or five hours. I just continuously hop from task to task, remembering that I was lying down a road in one area and then spotting a dungeon that I didn’t have a chance to explore yet.

I enjoy games that have a clear story path to follow, but it’s nice every now and then to explore a game that seemingly has no purpose except being an escape from a stressful world. If you have Xbox Game Pass, you can download Forager for free and give it a try. Otherwise, you can purchase Forager for $19.99 from Steam, Nintendo Switch, or PlayStation.

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