Forager is a 2D open-world game from HopFrog with a huge online fan base.
Compared to the likes of Terraria, Stardew Valley and Minecraft, Forager is a game that lets you pick your own priorities. From the start, you’re on your own, dropped in the middle of a small map populated by trees and rocks — a familiar start. Using a pickaxe, the only tool at your disposal, you can harvest resources from your surroundings. Soon enough, you can use those resources to build things like forges and sewing machines to create more complex items.
Once you’ve made some items and forged some coins, you can use your newfound wealth to purchase surrounding land. This, I would argue, is the most exciting and compelling part of Forager. While the mining and building mechanics of Forager are fun and polished, they can quickly come to feel like level grinding. But every time I was on the verge of boredom, I would unlock a new skill or expand my map and discover a new reason to keep playing. I was quickly drawn back in by a sense of wonder at the new content, which was often simply delightful — root vegetables telling me they love me, mysterious monuments, a museum and more.
However, for those less interested in games that rely on gathering mechanics, Forager may wear thin at first. There’s a wealth of content to be found, but it starts slow. Luckily for many, Forager indulges the impulse to hoard as many items as possible — but for those who lack that impulse, the game could quickly become intolerable. The constant mining that you must do to gather the resources required to construct new items and structures is hugely repetitive — the occasional attacks from wildlife are more annoying than exciting. Additionally, the same frantic foraging that makes the game exciting is also something that can make the game overwhelming, with plants and rocks popping up rapidly and endlessly.
That is to say: Forager knows what it’s about, and it’s good at what it does. It’s packed full of mining, farming and trading mechanics that evolve over time. Learning the essentials takes almost no time at all, but there are cool tricks that you can only discover through experimentation. The combat component of the game is simple enough, composed of just a single click on your enemy repeatedly until they collapse or you do. Still, it is satisfying to upgrade your gear to dispatch them more quickly. The interface of the game is smooth, polished and pleasing — when your avatar enthusiastically swings its pickaxe at whatever target you choose, it’s hard not to be charmed. The notification when you level up is full of light and pleasant sounds, and the process of acquiring new traits in your skill tree over time always feels like a treat thanks to bright animations.
Ultimately, Forager is a real treat for fans of open-world crafting games that offer minimal direction. The developer lets the experience be what you make of it, which can be a liberating thing. As much as I find recommendation by comparison reductive, I must say it’s true that fans of Stardew Valley and Terraria will find much to enjoy in Forager.
Forager is available now on PC and Linux.