Reminiscent of games like Terraria, Stardew Valley, and Legend of Zelda, Forager is a great game in its own right. The player starts on a small plot of land with nothing more than a pickaxe and the simple goal of collecting resources.
On the face of it, this game is very straightforward, but it quickly starts to expand. I started off by whacking away at the resources only to find that more would keep popping up; it wasn’t long before I had enough to put together a furnace and forge. I was able to start smelting down the resources I had into Iron and Gold ingots using the furnace. The forge on the other hand only had a few unlocked options that I could access, the first of which was “Coin” – so I started crafting coins, not entirely sure of how important they would turn out to be.
Those coins turned out to be the key to expanding the world of Forager because a core mechanic is buying new lands. The cost scales as they get further away from the starting land and new lands come with new resources to gather, NPCs to meet, puzzles to solve, and biomes to explore. Each biome type occurs in the same area but the lands in them are arranged at random. There are 48 islands in total – to the north is the winter biome, to the east is the desert, west is the graveyard, and the fire biome lies to the south. The first island is in the center of the grass biome and from there it’s up to the player to decide where to explore.
The only restriction to purchasing new lands is that they must be adjacent to a previously purchased island, so it’s possible to explore the map in any order. This is a common theme in Forager because the levelling system works in an identical way. At first, the only four skills available are Industry, Economy, Foraging, and Magic. One skill can be unlocked with each new level and, as with the islands, the only restriction is that an adjacent skill has to have been purchased.
This is both a gift and a curse because it is completely possible to forget about leveling other abilities. I threw almost all of my skill points into the Foraging and Industry skills, which was working really well until I realized I should start upgrading my pickaxe but I wasn’t able to because I didn’t have the skill unlocked that would allow me to craft the items I needed. It ended up taking four more levels to get the skill I needed, and it wasn’t the easiest since I was already a fairly high level.
Thankfully there is a bit of a workaround for this situation. Early in the skill tree it is possible to unlock markets which will cycle new items every ten minutes, and it’s possible to build multiple markets, each with their own items. Another convenient trick is that each structure will drop the resources it was built with, which means it’s possible to keep rebuilding the market until it has a certain item in stock.
But in the event that this sounds a bit too tedious it’s always possible to just keep grinding for levels by gathering resources. There are actually two great features in Forager that make scavenging fun. The first is that there is no item stack limit, which means it’s possible to have literally thousands of the same item. That in turn means the only reason not to collect items is because there is something else to do. The second is that items don’t despawn, so if storage space becomes an issue it’s always possible to leave the items on the ground and come back for them later.
The one drawback to this is that in the late game a lot of items will be spawning on all the different islands and it’s possible for so many to spawn that the game starts to lag. Building a few more vaults for storage and picking up the items is usually enough to fix the problem though.
Forager has a lot more to offer than just gathering resources though. There are a decent number of options for building: to set up a base there are different varieties of floors, walls, and gates. On top of that there are decorative items to spruce up the place and all of the structures that get unlocked during the skill progression both look good and serve an important function. It has enough content where the islands can be customized to fit a style but it’s not the most expansive of building systems. It’s still fun to use though and one of the best features is the ability to create landfills. These will fill in water spaces and connect islands to each other, thus providing more room for building.
The crafting system that is built into the game also has built-in automation. All of the inventories can be connected through skills and all of the crafting structures can be setup to create an “infinite” amount of an item. What this really means is that a structure will constantly create that item so long as the resources needed are collected. So if a furnace is set up to create gold, then as long as gold ore is being gathered it will keep creating gold ingots. If it uses all of the ore then it will simply stop creating items until more is available. It’s rare to find a built-in automation system within a game like Forager, which makes this a really unique feature.
Beyond building, there are puzzles to solve that will help unlock new items, and occasionally there will be NPCs that will ask for some items in exchange for a reward. In the end game there are even items that can be built that will summon bosses to fight. The inspiration from Terraria really shines through in these elements – there are even some in-game references that will be easy to pick up on. It all comes together to form a great blend of survival gameplay and classic RPG elements. To add to that, Forager’s patron page says more DLC is planned and the community is actively involved in the development, which really shows that HopFrog, Forager’s developer, cares about delivering quality content.
At the end of the day, Forager on Xbox One is a great investment. The amount of content in the game is phenomenal and it can only get better. If foraging, building, and adventuring are up your alley then I heartily recommend Forager.