Indietail – Sir, You Are Being Hunted

It’s getting colder. It’s raining more. The nights are getting a bit longer… Autumn is coming – and with it: Halloween! (Unless you’re in the land down under where it’s Spring…? That place surely is magical!)

Halloween’s great! It’s the time to bring out my horse mask, watch some trash horror movies and quite potentially play some spooky games, alone, at night, by yourself… and that’s why we’re taking a look at “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”, a spooky and very British Stealth-Survival game by Big Robot Ltd!

Developer: Big Robot Ltd
Publisher: Big Robot Ltd
Genre: Survival, Stealth, Indie, Robots, First-Person, Horror
Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

Note: I had to create a header image for this game as there was no actual press kit and hence no high resolution pictures or logos available. Hence, pardon my intervention in that regard.

But first,… what is Sir, You Are Being Hunted?

In this title, you’re participating in a fox hunt – the twist is that you, Sir (or Madam!), are being hunted and not some fox. For some reason, we then are tasked with finding a bunch of different machine parts on five different islands (all connected with boats), only to bring them all together at the magical statue in the centre island. Yeah, I know, the story doesn’t really seem too intriguing but hold on before you click off… because the game is actually somewhat good.

The spot we have to bank our machine parts at!

After all, this game combines witty humour, procedural generation, stealth and survival mechanics to present a funny and spooky experience.

While you’re searching for the smoke pillars in the distance, you’ll come across all kinds of robots. At first, you only get to see high-class hunters with their shotguns, their top hats, moustaches and their tweed jackets. These take only two hits with a hatchet and are your first source of new weapons, including their shotguns. But over time, the game throws all kinds of other enemies in your face: You get to see robotic hunting dogs, revolver wielding middle-class squires and lower-class poachers but also scarier foes like rocket.powered horse-riders or the giant landlord who’s able to chase you from afar and who is truly terrifying. 

This game’s the epitome of “British stereotypes”. From the Victorian look of all the enemies to the sad and dreary environment that you’re walking through to the small jokes hidden in the different item flavour texts and other info. I really enjoyed the humour to bits. On top of that, you get to chose whether you wanna be a “Sir” or a “Madam” that is being hunted… which I found cute in a way… And obviously, Great Britain can be lovely, but as far as stereotypes and that kind of stuff go, a lot of people think that it’s always raining over there… which is well shown in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”. 

Wait… THAT is the landlord?! He’s huge! And scary! Oh no, he’s coming for us!

The biomes you’re walking through have this very sombre vibe to it but in a good way. Even during the day, it remains quite spooky and dismal, which I found more than interesting. In the distance, you may see the next landmark, a giant factory in the industrial part of an island with smoke coming out of chimneys… or maybe a small town whose street lanterns are shining a small light onto the nooks and crannies of the streets. Overall, despite its age, I did find a few spots here and there that actually were quite lovely or enigmatic in their own way. Looks-wise the game has aged somewhat well and has still its own character. The landscapes are pretty at first but over time, I noticed that they can also get quite monotone and dreary. 

When I say that the game aged well, I mean that it can still look good despite looking “old”. There are some uninspired spots and pieces with shrubs and hedges and some trampled ground but with procedural generation and you essentially getting a new map every run, it’s possible that you get some very pretty ones as well. In one instance, I had this very spectacular pink sky in might sight which was very clearly visible, even from the shrouds that I was hiding in!

Where the game truly shines is its audio design. The developers themselves said that they put extra care into that and wanted to make it something that gives the players a lot – and in fact, they did. During the game, I was constantly on edge trying to find the next place to go, dodging robots and looking into the distance in hope to see their red eyes and their paths… and while I was immersed and while I tried to progress, I ended up really listening to those sounds and noises in the game. Gunshots? Barking? Even birds that are flying away from robots scaring them off can be heard clearly if you’re nearby. I really enjoyed this aspect of tracking the robots and trying to find your own ways of dealing with them and trying to get around them. 

In one case, I lured robots to me with a trombone while waiting in a farmer’s field. I was crouching with my hatchet, waiting for them to stop by and before they noticed I fell the first one and dipped back into the shadows. Then I threw a glass bottle into the other direction, looted the corpse and shot the remaining two distracted robots with my newly attained shotgun! I felt quite good about that! Suddenly, the Hunted became the Hunter again!

But while the stealth parts can be fun and while the game is quite well-made with great jokes, cool enemies, nice sound design and pretty landscapes, I must say that some stuff really doesn’t work in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”.

In my time in the game, I noticed that the different machine parts are spaced out too much, for instance. Sometimes, you find them and see them being heavily guarded… at other times you just stumble across the hills until you find another one by accident. The smoke pillars that should rise from them are often not really that visible from afar, so you’ve got to search a bit for them. Having a more reliable map would have been better in that regard or potentially reducing the number of parts that you have to find in total… or even making it an option to crank up or down.

Oooh, what to take and what to leave?

Another thing that just didn’t work out for me was the Survival aspect of it. During your playthrough, you have to watch your Health and Vitality. If you get hit, you need to stop the bleeding or else you’ll die. If your vitality is low, you’ll starve and die as well. The game prompts you to either go hunting to find fresh game or to just loot enemies and houses in order to find relatively fresh and quite rotten food… This – and the fact that you cannot really craft too many items in the game – make the game quite hard to get around. The inventory management that you need to take care of can be also relatively hard to get around, especially when you have to discard of junk items manually. One by one.

And well,… you can only save at the monument on the first island and at boats. When you die, you lose a lot of progress and items. Looting isn’t that satisfactory as you just hit F on a door instead of actually foraging and scavenging inside and outside of it. A lot of the items feel useless or are useless and due to the missing actual crafting system it kind of feels as if the survival aspects have just been added to the game because it seemed like a good idea.

When you’re surrounded and you’re starving, you’re basically waiting for the game to end. That’s not fun. Your last resort? Light a pipe and drink yourself into a more vital and nauseous state! Drinks give you vitality but make you tipsy… Smokes cost you vitality but do nothing else… I like the gimmick but it isn’t exactly helpful.

On top of that, you spend a lot of time travelling while crouching, which can get a bit annoying and feel way too slow. And while you get stronger by getting weapons and ammunition from enemies, the game also gets harder as there are bigger patrols, new enemies, and less places to go to for the sake of looting. Overall, the game can be quite frustrating and unforgiving but if you are searching for a challenge, this might actually be it!

Regardless of all of that, though, I’d recommend this game to others. It’s a good game in its core and the stealth parts are fun while the game is genuinely spooky – at least it was for me. I’d say that this is a great game if you’re searching for something slow but fun and somewhat relaxed to play on an evening or two. I’m not sure if it’s worth the full price though due to it being old and not getting updates on top of having some bigger issues like the survival being “eh” and the game feeling slow. 

Cheers!

Looking forward to “Grounded”

If you’ve seen “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, “The Ant Bully”, or “Antz”, you might like the following title. In Obsidian Entertainment’s “Grounded” you’re playing as one of four kids, shrunk to the size of insects and other small critters. You get to roam a lawn, exploring vast grass-steam forests while scavenging and foraging for resources to survive the dangers that come with not being normal-sized.

The world is beautiful if you look close enough – and well, with your size, you can get close to everything. Ants are as big as you while stink beetles and ladybugs are terrifyingly big! Of course, there are also small critters like mites that you can hunt down for food and… well… as the game tells you in the title screen, there are also spiders. But fear not, fellow arachnophobes, for there is an arachnophobia mode in this game that lets you turn those horrific and vile creatures into weird bobbly balls floating in the air. This also affects their creepy sounds, resulting in a pleasant experience even when you encounter them.

I constantly caught myself staring into the beautiful areas around you – I mean, when if not now do we get to see the world from this perspective?

Houses and benches are huge! We even get to explore “landmarks” such as some weird shrinking machine and soda cans. Resources seem to be rather lush and alas, we gather pebbles and sprigs, mushrooms and clover, so that we can get started with some simple tools for the beginning.

While you chop down trees in other games, you’ve got to chop down the grass, using an actual axe. Quite bizarre in a way but it does make sense. And well, despite stink beetles, spiders and mites wanting to kill you, there are also a bunch of friendly fellows around like ladybugs and ants.

I love ants. The ants in this game look incredibly cute, constantly scavenging for food, just like us, or carrying around sticks and pebbles. “In theory”, I thought… “In theory, I could attack them. I’ve got the spear and all of that already, after all!” – But I didn’t dare to attack such cute little fellows, mostly since I’m afraid that they might gang up on me after sending out their threat pheromones.

There seems to be a full-fledged story available to the game once it comes out but inside of the demo I was able to play for more than half an hour – and the story-part reached until we fixed the (presumably) shrink-reversal-machine that Spoilers blew up on us shortly after we “fixed” it.

Materials can be analyzed for recipes inside of the analyzer that is set near our research globe. Food can be cooked at a roasting spit and, in theory, we can even build a base of sorts with walls, doors and floors!

Honestly, I’m really excited about this game, especially since it does tickle that one itch that I have for base-building survival games! Especially as it also features unconventional aspects to survival. You’ve got to find water drops on grass stems to not dehydrate, for instance, which is a nice touch!

Multiplayer is also something that is going to be included in the full game, so this might get really cool really soon. Grounded gets released in Early Access on July 28th, 2020. It’s by Obsidian Entertainment, so it’s bound to be good, and well, the game so far has been looking great already, especially as this is only a demo!

The only thing that I’d wish for would be an option to turn the spiders into some cute beetles or something, as even the bobbly heads are a little bit triggering to me. I’d also love it if you could turn their sounds into something else that is less creepy. But maybe that’s just my arachnophobia speaking…

Cheers!

Looking out for “Starmancer”

Starmancer looked like the closest thing to any of the games that I’m usually enjoying and all the demos I’ve seen on the Steam Game Festival. It’s getting published by Chucklefish which fits most of my favourite games… it’s a strategy, base-building simulation game based in Space and you essentially play as a powerful A.I. who’s controlling a base while researching, expanding and upgrading everything.

You try to survive starvation, sabotage and other threats – and worst case, you’ll just regrow your humans.

Developer: Ominux Games
Publisher: Chucklefish
Release Date: "Coming Soon"
Genres: Simulation, Strategy, Base-Building, Space, Indie

The idea of either “following protocol or going rogue” was really interesting to me, so I thought I’d give Ominux Games’ “Starmancer” a shot and I’m pleasantly surprised.

That’s us!

You start up with researching some technologies and building up biomass synthesizers that fuel your production and are essential for your success. You then link up your machines with pipes and wires while managing your colonists.

You send out humans on missions, make money and advance your production further to ensure a happy life to your colonists.
The full game will feature diplomacy, exploration, and modding support as well as the features that are already in available in the demo like personal relationships, memories, rumours, jobs, unique colonists, procedural generation, Insanity and Mutiny.

All beginning is hard!

All the good stuff!

The demo features 60 minutes of gameplay, although you may restart it whenever you want. You’re also granted a lot of starting money for the sake of exploration, as well as unlocked misc items to ensure your colonists’ happiness.

It all plays surprisingly well for an Alpha. There are no bugs from what I’ve seen, yet, and the mechanics work rather well. I still need to create a successful colony to date as I’m always failing in the worst possible way.
In one run, one of my colonists started picking fights with everyone as they were hungry. This lead to them making enemies out of everyone and eventually it started to pick fights with all the other colonists (who were all pacifists), resulting in two dead and one living colonist.

Charistmatic but disgusting? Also an aggressive douchebag? Ah, whatever!

I wanted to revive both colonists but sadly the mad one also turned into a cannibal and started eating them while having this urge of bloodlust… So, I had to starve the mad cannibal out until I could regrow the other ones. Starving her out didn’t work out well… So then I just vented the oxygen into space, so that she suffocates and dies that way. That worked.

When I generated more oxygen a fire started spreading and destroyed the human growth machine, resulting in no way for me to grow more and alas one run ending.

In the next one, I ran out of money and had no way to recover… and in a different one, I ran out of time and had to restart the demo as I played it for yet another hour.

So, I guess, you could say that I had a blast! I really enjoyed this game. I’d describe it as a mix of Oxygen Not Included and RimWorld.

Not again!

I really liked the fact that your colonists can get better at the jobs they’re doing which would then unlock more research options and alas more blueprints and items! I would have liked it a tad more if I had a better way to see the colonists happiness and if there were more ways to increase their happiness, like giving them some rest here and there or even changing their schedule completely.

So, this is essentially a winner. I’m really looking forward to the full release which is “coming soon”.

Realm of the mad cannibal!

Wishlist it and get notified when it comes out! The Alpha Demo is also still available for download on Steam, so try it out if you want to! 🙂

I’m excited about “Drake Hollow” by The Molasses Flood

It’s sadly not part of the Steam Game Festival but Drake Hollow is definitely something to look out for. I’m really excited about the game – and not only due it being made by the dev behind The Flame In The Flood! The Molasses Flood’s second game can best be described as a Base-Building Action-Survival-Game. 

What is Drake Hollow about?

Well, in the blighted world of The Hollow, you’ve got to defend the small vegetable folk known as the Drake from the deadly feral beasts that are threatening to attack them! The Drake can’t really take care of themselves, so you’ve got to provide them with gardens, wells, and entertainment as well as defences against the previously mentioned terrors. The Drake can literally die of boredom, so they need your attention and help in order to survive – in return, they provide you with buffs that are helpful in your quest of Survival!

Take back The Hollow as you strive for the perfect village! Build solar panels and other important machines to progress! Play with friends and hold your ground together against the imminent danger, craft weapons and gear, pack your things and migrate from place to place, from season to season. Do what it takes to live on!

I really have been excited about this game for ages now. We’ve reviewed The Flame In The Flood about a year ago, so everyone should know what The Molasses Flood is capable of (the studio, not the event). 

What do I expect from this game?

  • First up, the soundtrack is probably going to be amazing.
    The Flame In The Flood featured a lovely, adventurous soundtrack made by Chuck Ragan, and I can’t imagine what they are going to come up with for the soundtrack of this game. I’d expect maybe some more mysterious and enigmatic tunes, similar to the Dungeon of the Endless soundtrack, as well as some road trip vibes with other tracks for when you’re exploring, similar to Amarante Music. 
  • Secondly, the peaceful aspects are going to be super wholesome.
    Taking care of these little fellows is going to be great. Just imagine all the cute little noises and dances they might make. I’m in love with Dufflur, the Drake that can be seen in the Steam Store Page. It’s just adorable, featuring a very lovely colour and some insanely pretty eyes!
  • Thirdly, Co-Op is going to be great when I find the right people to play this with – and I already have some in mind!
    I’d imagine that the resource gathering and base-building get infinite times better with friends, probably, just like it’s so much better to play games like Satisfactory or Ark with friends. 
  • Fourth, the combat is going to be intense and exciting!
    A change of pace is always good, so the resource scavenging, base building, and Drake-caretaking are going to be rather relaxed and fun to play around while combatting the “raids” will result in your heart rate spiking, in a good way of course. I wanna feel that thrill and excitement when facing off against these eldritch-looking monsters!
  • And at last, exploration:
    There are going to be a lot of different regions and seasons with each region being over a square mile big! From what I’ve gathered, there are landmarks to explore and, well, with every passing season there is going to be dynamically generated and populated areas, so you’ll always have places to go and spaces to loot, I’d imagine. 

So, in essence, I’m hyped. I’ve been hyped for ages but with the game coming out on July 17th, 2020, I’m getting excited again. I probably won’t be able to play it until after the 22nd, though, as I’ve got some exams on that day, but regardless of that, this is going to be great.

So, yeah, this is my post on Drake Hollow. We’re going to write a review on this game after the release so that you can see if my hype was justified, and we soon will publish an interview with one of the lead devs on the game, so stay tuned for that!

Be sure to wishlist and follow it on Steam, if you’re interested! You may also be interested in checking out the website! Cheers!

Looking out for “Occupy Mars: Prologue”

I’ve always been fascinated by space and games that play in space. Landing on some planet, starting colonies, all that good stuff. Surviving Mars is a great game, Kerbal Space Program is something I wanna be good at, and well,… today’s Demo: “Occupy Mars: Prologue” by Pyramid Games is something I want to like…

You are on Mars, duh.

You have your tools and your rover. You build and upgrade your base, discover new regions, conduct mining operations, retrieve water and generate oxygen while growing plants and doing your best to colonize Mars. You try to make living on Mars possible, step by step. I love the premise.

It’s a highly technical, open-world, sandbox, survival game that really scratches that itch that other games have scratched in the past.

It’s got a day/night cycle and makes use of mainly solar power. You also try to fix broken parts using highly realistic mechanics like SMD, smoldering, hot-air and electronic measurements, fixing cables and platines and stuff.

I’m getting “The Martian” vibes from this game, which is really neat in a way. I really like the idea of ultimately trying to create an atmosphere on Mars using Mars.

Buuuut… it’s super janky. I struggled for ten minutes to try and pick up a rock with the rover’s crane. Some cables that you unplug or pick up, vanish into the ground, rendering the game broken sometimes. It’s only a demo and the game will start out in Early Access as well but I feel like some of the “realism” is harming the experience as you are trying to lift a rock or getting those ores while your oxygen, food and hydration meters are emptying over time, threatening your survival… I feel like some guide rails would be really helpful.

We’ll see if that changes in the actual game.

I guess I’d tune in for the finished game but I wouldn’t enjoy an EA-phase where the game breaks itself. I feel like the intent and the premise are there but they don’t necessarily are just “good enough” at this point. Alas, I’ve got it on my wishlist, waiting for possibly the full release… and then I might pick it up and review it… or I might not, judging from other people’s response to it.

Indietail – The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands

In today’s Indietail, we’ll take a look at The Bonfire: Forsaken Landsa game that I bought for two bucks and while I really want to like it, there’s some flaws that I can’t overlook. Stay tuned for a review on The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands!

Developer: Xigma Games
Publisher: Xigma Games
Genres: 2D, Strategy, Survival, Simulation
Release Date: March 9th, 2018
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC, Androids, iOs
Copy was purchased

In The Bonfire, you’re a wanderer from distant lands who settles down and starts chopping some wood. There’s some background story to it but I haven’t really understood it for the past few playthroughs. The game has a few different menus: Actions, Build, Craft, Workers.

You’ve got one character that you control by selecting an action to do, like chopping wood to get some wood. This takes a lot of time, usually, but once you’ve managed to get your hands on a few pieces of wood (I guess), you’re able to build a Bonfire which then will attract wanderers that then can work for you. 

Good job! You can now attract other wanders!

In the Build-menu the different buildings, you’re able to build, are listed. That includes farms, mines, huts, and other buildings to get more resources and workers. Once you build the first buildings, the next ones are available. For instance, you need food at the beginning and therefore have to build a farm first to nurture your workers. Afterwards, you can build an Iron Mine to craft iron tools and improve your workers’ efficiency. After that, there’re sheep-herding, a tannery, coal mines, steelworks, a shipyard and other buildings for other jobs and resources.

Your additional workers can be assigned to different jobs via the workers-menu, while you still can work at the different places via action-menu. Workers will collect those materials automatically and bring them to your shed, one by one, day by day. Once they’re exhausted or once dusk arrives, they’ll head to the sheds or huts to go to sleep. During the night, you’re still able to work on your own since you apparently don’t need any sleep at all. 

After a bloody fight, I got to defend the village against the demonic beasts!

Here comes another mechanic into the game, though: During the night, monsters appear that try to kill your “villagers” aka workers. They range from wolves to giant spiders (ugh!) and even deer-monsters. After you managed to kill them, you’re able to skin them for leather, gems and other materials (it seems to be random). To combat these monsters at night, you can also make wanderers guard the village at night. When they’re guards, they can’t work during the day but will stay awake at night and fight the beasts. However, this requires you to craft a torch per guard. 

That’s where I’d like to introduce items. As already mentioned, there’s the crafting-menu where you’re able to craft items for your work-efficiency. By crafting a cart (10 wood), your workers can carry more resources before returning to the shed instead of getting, e.g., one wood, bringing it back to the shed, going back to the woods, chopping another piece of wood and repeat. Instead, they chop five pieces of wood before they return to empty their cart. There’s the torch for one piece of wood that is needed for guards. There are iron tools, later one, that improve the work speed and also allow you to clear paths to the coast. Later on, you’ll need to upgrade your guards’ gear, too, as the few guards, equipped with wooden spears and torches, won’t deal enough damage to the enemy hordes. Instead, you’ll give them iron or even steel swords and armour. 

What I really liked about the game was its simplicity and the fact that there are still a few mechanics that require strategy. The atmosphere is great and overall the game feels quite relaxed. You later unlock trading, research, dungeon crawling and now and then you even encounter mysterious wanderers that need food and tell you stories in return or reward you with equip. At some point, however, you notice the game’s flaws.

My town is growing!

For instance, you can’t upgrade the protagonist. You’re able to give carts, tools and armour to everyone else but not use those yourselves? At some point, you’re short on wood or iron or something else and you click on that “mine iron” or “chop wood” button to only bring back one wood or one iron each time, which gets quite annoying. You’re not able to click on some “repeat until” or “repeat forever” button and let it run on for a bit but instead have to click on that button again and again and again. Quite repetitive. Also you can’t work at the tannery or the coal mines or somewhere else and only are limited to three to five options.

And you can’t get more efficient at it. There are workers with different traits like “Strong”, “Honest”, “Wise”, “Quick Footwork”, “Hardworking”, and others but there is no explanation for those traits and there are no bad traits, either. Sure, hardworking is good for workers, I get that. Strong is really good for warriors (that don’t protect your town btw), brave is nice to have on guards but I have no clue if I’d rather have a wise or an honest trader. Also, in the beginning, I thought that “Quick Footwork” would make them walk faster, like in Grim Nights but it doesn’t. It seems like it’s just good for Scouts, which is quite disappointing, to be honest. 

Another flaw that I noticed was the material-list. You can’t move around the UI like in Banished at all and while the presentation of the game with its snowstorms and the snowy lands and all that is quite pretty, you sometimes can’t see your material list at all.  Having it on a grey or darker background and just on the side of the screen instead of the top half of your monitor, would have been quite smart and handy. Instead, at nights, I’ll just have to guess what resources I’ve got and what not. 

Here’s my shipyard and my coal mine but due to the stormy weather and all the fog, the white material list can’t be seen all that well. There’re occasions of snow storms that make it even worse to see and there are no ways to customize its colour or anything at all.

Speaking of the UI, changing jobs is a pain in the butt! You need a few different clicks in a menu that sometimes assignes jobs while you’re scrolling through the horizontal list of jobs. Afterwards you’ve got to re-asign stuff like pickaxes, carts, axes and other items. It would’ve been better if they just autoassigned those.

There are also other UI-choices that I can’t really support like the dungeon crawling having the retreat-button on the left, even when you’re travelling from right to left (which in my brain doesn’t make sense, leading to me pressing on “retreat” instead of “forward”, hence leaving a dungeon instead of proceeding).

The sound-design is horrible, too. The music is the same track all over again on days and a different one for combat. Sound and Music are often way too loud but you’re only able to turn it on or off in the settings. Once dusk arrives, you’ve got some time to work, still, before the beasts of the nights let out their demonic screech and visit your village for some tea with blood and sugar, as well as some villager-scones. That screech is even louder than the usual sounds. It’s so badly mixed that it’s too loud, even with it turned to the lowest settings in my windows sound mixer. 

And for disclaimer purposes, I’d like to say that I don’t want to trash the game or anything but I personally find these flaws so annoying that I don’t really want to play the game for more than an hour or two..
When I bought the game, it was only 2€ but they raised it to ten bucks now, which is outrageous for a game with only three hours worth of gameplay and this many flaws. I still enjoyed the game for a bit for its “city-building”-aspects, I guess, but I would never have bought it for the ten bucks it costs now. It has its good sides but there’re some aspects and flaws that I can’t overlook when it comes to a review like this.

The dungeon crawling – “Retreat” shouldn’t be on the left when you’re moving “forward” to the left, in my opinion. Other than that quite interesting..

So, in the end, I can’t recommend this game at full price.

If you’re in it for the experience, wait for a sale to come and buy it for two bucks or so. And, as I said, I want to like the game but I can’t fully recommend it because of the poor execution, the horrible sound issues, the repetitive gameplay, the bad boss-fight at the end (that I haven’t even touched here btw) and all that.

BUT the sequel is in the works and it’s going for a rather isometric style with a different UI and some more city building-like aspects. From what I’ve seen it looks a lot better and less problematic, hence, I’m quite interested in that one and will probably do a review on that, too. I don’t want to bash that one but the dev seems to be quite excited about that one, too.

Anyways, have a nice one!

Indietail – Forager

In today’s review, we’re taking a look at Forager, “a 2D open-world game inspired by exploration, farming and crafting games like Terraria, Stardew Valley and Zelda” by HopFrog.

Developer: HopFrog
Pubslisher: HumbleBundle
Genres: Survival, Open-World, Adventure, Indie
Release Date: April 18, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC (Windows, Linux), PS4, Nintendo Switch
Copy was purchased.

I actually planned on posting another format called “The Chase for Closure” where I try to get all achievements (in Forager, that’s 6 remaining for me!) but then I saw that I needed to have all achievements in one file for the last one and there’s one achievement that I can’t get in my other file and yadidadiyada. You get the drill. So, I created another save file and started anew for that last achievement… before I realised that there’s the Combat Update coming out soon that includes new skills, items, bosses, a whole new biome and also new achievements. So… I gave up on the chase for the 100% (for now!) and instead decided to release another review. This time on Forager.

At the start, you spawn on an island, only equipped with your basic backpack (with not that many slots) and a basic pickaxe. On the island, there are resources that you’ve got to mine, forage, etc. to proceed. By doing so, you gain experience points and, well.., the resources (trees -> wood, rocks -> stone, bushes -> berries, etc.), duh. Once you’ve earned enough experience, you level up and have to spend a skill point on one of four different available skill trees: Economy, Industry, Foraging, and Magic.

The different skill trees unlock new items, buildings, enemies, resources, equipment and overall make your life easier. For instance, I struggled a lot with coal at the beginning, which is necessary to smelt ores into ingots. Hence, I burned wood to gain coal instead before then burning that coal for the ingots. This, however, resulted in me struggling with wood at the beginning. But once I advanced far enough into the Foraging-Skilltree I earned a skill that lets coal drop from all rocks! And I never struggled with stone again.

Top hat! Cause why not?

The foraging-skill-tree is about grinding, mining, and foraging those resources, while the industry-skill-tree is all about machines and technology, granting you improved work speed, automation and other goodies that are quite neat! When you get into magic, you’re able to forge swords, brew potions and craft scrolls that have all kinds of effects! The economy-skill-tree gives you more coins, helps you with storage, improves the number of resource-drops, and overall is also a great addition to the game.

Speaking of coins, they’re very important! As I said, you’re on one island at the beginning. To gain more land, you need to craft up coins that then can be used to buy more islands. There’re also markets where you can buy and sell items with and for gold! Coins and materials are the heart of Forager but at some point later, you just won’t have to worry about them at all.

The museum is quite empty, so we need to fill it!

The map is divided into five areas: The Grass Biome (where you start), the Winter Biome (North), the Graveyard Biome (West), the Desert Biome (East) and the Fire Biome (South). Each area/biome has different enemies and resources, as well as many different Quest-NPCs, Puzzles, and even a Dungeon each! When you complete Quests, Puzzles or Dungeons you gain a reward.

The dungeons were my highlight in Forager as they felt really Zelda-ish! The Quest NPCs are also quite cool as some of them have great dialogues. There’s a ton of references and jokes in them as well as a whole lot of quests. For instance, there’s this old guy at a giant tree in the Grasslands who warns you about this small guy with a pickaxe who’s exploiting nature! Naturally, he asks you, not knowing that you’re the guy who is exploiting nature, to help him protect nature by capturing a few torch bugs and bring him other stuff so that that madman can’t harm them anymore. Quite paradox and fun! I had to chuckle at that quest.

One of the first pickaxe-upgrades

While the levelling and grinding are a bit slow at the beginning, it picks up the pace quite quickly. Once you skill the right skills, you don’t have any struggles regarding stuff like coal, wood, food, etc. There’s even one skill that allows you to eat rocks! The next update will remove some of the skills that are “useless” while adding new skills in the skill trees that unlock all kinds of new items like trains and portals. There’s also going to be new bosses.

I’ve been playing Forager for quite some time. I’ve got about 23 online-hours on Steam but I also played the Alpha-version on itch.io that didn’t have that many features, yet, but was still really addicting. Forager is a nice game with many features, that has been improved a lot over time. There are weather effects, a day-night-cycle in place, new boss enemies and even hats – a ton of hats – in the game, that make the game quite fun.

One of the new bosses!

I guess you can criticize that there’s not much end-game-content once you’ve upgraded all your gear, skilled every skill tree to the fullest, done all the dungeons, and built on every island, but the new item tiers and the new Void Dimension in the upcoming update should fix that quite neatly. The slow pace at the beginning feels necessary as you’re always “this close” to levelling up or advancing which makes you want to keep on playing “for just a little bit more”. So, I actually don’t have anything to criticize. I like the style, the music, the humour and all the frequent updates. Therefore, I’m recommending the game, duh. But then again, I should mention that I enjoy the grinding and leveling aspects of this game and am a big fan of the Zelda-ish dungeons and puzzles and an even bigger fan of games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley and Graveyard Keeper. This game might not be something for you when you don’t like games like those but you probably got an insight on this game by reading my review.

All skills (in the beta since that update will launch soon and the other ones are not as good as these ones)

Anyways, feel free to leave feedback! Have a nice day 🙂

Indietail – The Flame In The Flood

For my first review on this Indie Game Blog, I’m presenting you The Flame In The Flood (Trailer/Shop) – one of my favourite games – where the protagonist Scout goes on an adventure with her dog Aesop/Daisy to find the whereabouts of the humans that escaped after the Great Flooding. To do that, they travel on a great river with their tiny raft and scavenge, forage, craft and survive on little islands full of dangers that nature has prepared for them. It was developed by The Molasses Flood whose developers previously worked on titles like Bioshock and Halo 2.

Before you can set out for an adventure, you’ll have to choose one of two modes to play: The campaign and the endless-mode. While the campaign consists of you playing through ten procedurally generated areas to reveal the mystery of the missing humans, you’ll have to try to survive on an endless river in the endless-mode (duh.) while the difficulty is raised the farther you travel. When you die in the campaign, you’re able to either restart your journey or revive at the last checkpoint you reached – in the endless-mode however death is permanent which adds the rogue-like-ish feel to the game and has a certain thrill to it since all your boat-upgrades, collected and crafted items will be lost forever then! 

The menu shows the skeleton of the previousplayer and the dog that has been left behind.

After choosing the mode, you’re able to set the difficulty. There’s the “Traveler” difficulty that is recommended to newer players with checkpoints and a normal abundance of resources and the “Survivalist” difficulty that is recommended for experienced players with permadeath, fewer supplies, and stats that diminish at an increased rate. On top of that, you can tick an option that allows your pet dog’s inventory to persist through runs that decide whether or not you wanna go for a rogue-like or a rogue-lite experience. In the end, you can choose between Daisy and Aesop, your canine followers that will accompany you through your run.


Now that your journey begins, you’re playing through a small tutorial that shows you the most important information needed to survive via signs that can be found across a camping ground. Those signs show you information regarding your inventory, crafting, stats, and dangers. After that, you’re pretty much left alone and although it’s the tutorial, you’re not safe yet since your stats diminish per second. Those stats include hunger, thirst, temperature, and fatigue. If any of them reach zero, Scout will die. To prevent that from happening you’ll have to collect materials in the starting area and the little islands that you encounter on your adventure. The game consists of two types of levels: The river and the islands. While you’re able to walk on the islands, search for loot and hunt for food, you’ll have to manoeuvre your raft across the river and head for different islands that contain different loot. This, however, is easier said than done since the currents are often so strong that there’s no returning after you’re going into one direction. Most often the game isn’t forgiving you for ignoring one island or choosing one over the other. You’re usually left with little to no time to think before your raft steers into one direction, so you have to make quick decisions:

Do you visit the church to have a higher chance to find clothing, alcohol (for the medical purposes of course!) and some decent housing or do you maybe go to the docking station to upgrade your raft or repair the damage done to it by previous mistakes? Sometimes you’ll have to even think about steering near cars and other objects that may damage your raft but contain loot that may be needed later.

The river is a one-way road and there are many objects that you have to manoeuvre around to not risk sinking! The wild river is accompanied by a great soundtrack that not only makes it fun to steer through the river but also calms you down in times of quick decisionmaking and storms. 


The island levels aren’t a lot safer though since you’re often awaited by wild animals and since death seemingly has his hots for you. In the early levels, you’ll encounter wild boars that are defending their territory, later you’ll also encounter even more vicious creatures like poisonous snakes, fierce wolves, and even threatening bears! Even when you don’t encounter wild enemies, death seems to be omnipresent: You may walk into fire ants, get sick or walk into poison ivy. Bites can end up in threatening sicknesses, catching a cold may result in death and having a broken leg hinders you from running away. All these debuffs have to be treated with craftable ailments, medicines, and bandages. However, resources are scarce in this post-apocalyptic world. While the learning curve is certainly steep, it isn’t insurmountable! After quite a few runs you’re able to understand priorities and improve your decisionmaking quite a lot.

The river at dawn is beautiful, even when wild currents are awaiting you!

As previously mentioned The Flame in the Flood is a game of choices. These choices are a part of the survival-experience and contribute to the feeling of never feeling safe. You’re not able to settle down on an island or build a base with farms and such like other games like Don’t Starve or The Forest. The only thing that comes anywhere near the word “base” is your raft that you can upgrade for more storage room, a stove or other things that help you survive. Without any upgrades your raft only has a limited storage room, the same goes for your dog’s and your own backpack. You sometimes have to abandon useful resources only because of the missing storage. 

What do I leave behind? May I need these resources later? May I find these on some island along the way? Will I come across another camping ground or even another church? 

me, while struggling with leaving behind recources

You may ask yourself these questions but since no run is like the other, you’ll always have to count on your own instinct and the luck that you may get a fruitful scavenge later on. Since you can’t sort your inventory with a sort function, you may as well not see that some of your items could’ve been stacked. There are also items that may expire like food and herbs. Sometimes you may not even find the needed materials for the next upgrade. These things and features can be frustrating but after quite a lot of trial and error, you’re able to survive for quite some time. Using your acquired loot you’re able to build traps and weapons to catch rabbits or trap boars to receive meat and hyde. Crafting new tools allows you to craft even more items.

Some of the features like expired food or certain other mechanics may also be used in other ways. Meat can be crafted into a poisoned bait to kill some of the predators that lurk in the shadows and sometimes you can also simply eat it, get sick but then immediately treat the sickness (although that’s more of a last resort). Interactions and mechanics like these make the game quite a lot of fun! It may be described as a true survival game where you’re holding onto the last bit of hope and fight your way to the goal of the game!

Your canine companion is also a great help since he not only carries his own inventory but also is able to point at collectable resources and nearby dangers. If you don’t deactivate it, you can also plan out your next run and make it easier for you to survive early on by putting materials, tools and other items into its pouch, which would make it a rogue-lite-game.

Not only has the player to fight with inventory-management but also with the previously mentioned stats. Every stat has a different way to tend to it. You need food, clean water, warmth and rest – and the latter also influences the rest of the stats since by sleeping you’re not only passing time but also getting hungrier and thirstier, the longer you sleep. This mechanic is nice when you want to wait out a storm but sometimes puts you into a dilemma: Do you pass time until the storm is over but get hungrier or do you risk a cold and continue your journey? Again, there are choices!

The fireplace not only restores your warmth but also acts as a safe-zone against the creatures of the night.

As for the presentation, the game’s overwhelmingly beautiful. The art style is astonishing and the river is able to convince you of the beauty of nature. Between biomes, there’s a fluid transition, just like with the different times of the day. Dusk and dawn are probably my favourite times to be on the river while the night shows you the dangers of nature with red eyes and approaching storms. It sometimes seems like a double-edged sword that you can enjoy these small moments of peace on the river at daytime and feel scared at night or when it’s getting stormy. The environment is truly enigmatic and influences your experience positively. On the islands you sometimes alarm crows when walking near them which then alarms boars and other dangers, so you always have to watch out for those. There’s also red eyes at night staring at you from the dark, proving that the abyss stares back when you look into the abyss. However, I feel like the main focus of the presentation laid on the river since that is also the main part of your adventure. The Molasses Flood could have tuned up the island-environment a bit more to make even those levels a bit more atmospheric in my opinion but it doesn’t bug you all that much while playing – it certainly didn’t bug me.

Another strength of the game is the soundtrack that is brought to you by songwriter and singer Chuck Ragan and further strengthens the game’s adventure-feel. It’s fun to hear his voice while manoeuvring through currents and steering forward into the unknown, although it sometimes changes abruptly and even may leave you alone with nature and the sound of the river. It sometimes also occurs that the soundtrack switches to another song when changing biomes which I didn’t like all that much but for the most part the soundtrack transitioned fluently.

While playing the game I tested out both the controller and the mouse and keyboard configurations and I must say that I prefer the controller. The controller makes this game a lot easier since you’re able to use the D-Pad to use your most important items on the spot without having to open your inventory, select the item and then use it after a few steps. By you using the left trigger you can switch between useables, meds and placeables which improves the pace of the game by quite a lot.

Two wild kids that have been left behind.

Another thing that I noticed was the fact that the camera sometimes gets in the way of you which leads to you sometimes running into fire ants without noticing at all. While you are able to tilt the camera a bit with the right joystick, it still could have been improved a bit here with a free camera.

Summary

I’d say The Flame in the Flood is a great game that presents you not only a beautiful presentation and a great soundtrack but also quite a few mechanics that make your journey(s) enjoyable for at least 15 hours or even more if you’re a completionist and want to meet all the NPCs or if you’re a hardcore gamer and want to challenge the odds even more by competing for the longest journey in the leaderboards. Once you get over the steep learning curve you’re able to enjoy the game even more even with small bugs that you may encounter every now and then or the fact that you can’t sort through your inventory unlike in other games. There’s also the fact that the endless-mode and the campaign don’t really differ all that much except for the finality of the latter. Most of the information that you need to proceed is available only through signs that can be found every now and then but you can also miss useful information by just steering to another island which is another minus-point for the game. But to counter that you also have a quest-system that rewards you for crafting certain necessary items which act as some sort of mini-goal to work on, even in endless-mode. There’s also bits and pieces of side-stories that can be found sporadically through quilts and NPCs which also may be missed, although it adds a bit of replay value to the game. For the completionists, there are 36 achievements but other than that you’re probably going to run out of stuff to do once you’ve seen everything at least once.

Scout and Daisy at night

At last, I’d say that the game is an interesting survival-experience with a steep learning curve, a great presentation and a lot of fun for fans of the genre and newcomers. While it has a few flaws, the good points that speak for the game are clearly overwhelming, which is why I’m recommending this game to you. If this game sparked your interest, you can get yourself The Flame In The Flood for PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.

Anyways, cheerio!