Thursday 31 May 2018

Fox N Forests Review (Nintendo Switch)

The indie landscape is filled with 2D platformers that are inspired by the 8 and 16 bit games of the past but very few them go to the lengths that Fox N Forest does to make you really feel like you are actually playing something from a bygone era. The game markets itself as being a 16-bit style action platformer and it certainly wouldn’t be out of place on a system like the Amiga.

The impressive pixel art style is the first thing to hit you when you first open up the game. A lot of faux retro games don’t really look the part but this certainly does with rich colours and character design that helps to create a beautifully unique game world while also firing off many a nostalgia rocket.

The plot is something lifted for gaming’s golden era with a breezy fable so slight it doesn’t even grace the pages in the various online shops the game is listed. It’s something about a magic fox having to restore seasons to a forest and break a spell. It matters little and serves as a good device for the games key season changing mechanic.

As the hero fox progresses through the levels you are able to change them to a predetermined second season. This affects the landscape considerably and is essential for progression and hunting out all the secrets that each area contains. For instance, you might need to change a season to winter in order to freeze a lake or autumn to make the tree branches free from foliage and thus climbable. It’s an integral part to the game and forms the core of your exploration - proving to be far more than a simple throw away gimmick.

Level design is mostly excellent with the varied stages designed to be visited multiple times in order for new routes to be sniffed out. This is a good thing, as in order to progress there is an arbitrary number of magic seeds you will need to find to unlock the next area. This was the one part of the game we felt a little let down by as though levels are generally a pleasure to experience over and over it did become frustrating when we couldn’t find the one seed we needed to open the next area.

The other slight issue is that the fox takes a bit of getting used to in terms of controls. A conscious decision has been made to not allow you to shoot arrows while jumping which is fine but our hero has a slightly strange weight to him which certainly took as a while to master. Some moves can also be a little tricky to pull off and in a game which can become stubbornly tough the last thing you need is to feel like the controls are against you as well. That said there are generous checkpoints throughout so progression is rarely halted for long.

At the end of each world you face off against a giant boss who requires thought and use of the season mechanic to vanquish. These are impressive showdowns with a memorably match up against an imposing wasp being particularly memorable.

Overall, Fox N Forests is an excellent take on the retro inspired action platformer. It has a unique world and it requires players to think about the game mechanics and how they and the character you control interact with the world. It also looks lovely and it’s clear that near endless thought and passion has been poured into it.  We would have liked some more levels and there are certainly a few things that could be refined but it still comes out head and shoulders above most other games of this type.

Overall 8/10

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