04/06/2018

🦊🌳 Review: Fox 'n' Forests "A Hidden Gem from an Alternate Universe" 🌳🦊 #GameDev #IndieGame

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Game Title: Fox n Forests
Developer: Bonus Level Entertainment
Platform Reviewed: PC (Steam) - £15.49
Rating: Ice Cool
Fox n Forests is a throwback the video games platformers of the mid-90s with a very Super Nintendo vibe running through it. 
From the colourful graphics through to the visual styles and touches, this is very much a game that could have been released in 1994 to critical acclaim and, like the best of those games, it still stands up today.

The story of Fox n Forests is a pretty straightforward one, you play the role of Rick, the titular fox who is on a journey to gain five pieces of bark from a magic tree. The game plays out as a platformer with some twists and light RPG elements that help keep the game feeling fresh. The levels are quite lengthy and designed to be replayed multiple times, luckily they're interesting enough to warrant this design choice. Multiple paths, hidden areas and a ‘season-switching’ mechanic add variety to the game.
Aside from the usual platforming action, as you work through the levels you’ll come across sections that seem impossible to cross such as waterfalls, and unclimbable, dead trees. Pressing one of the triggers on the controller will alter the season, causing water to freeze, climbable fruits to bloom and leaves to fall, all of which can be used to traverse areas. This is a simple mechanic but works well in the game and is reminiscent of a similar idea used in Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (another tasty title). The season-changing also comes in handy on the multi-stage boss battles, which can be quite intense and challenging.
Movement in the game is more deliberate that speedy, with collecting seeds and cash for upgrades being of more importance and resulting in more rewards than would be gleaned from rushing through the levels. There have been some comments made in relation to trailers for the game giving the impression that Fox n Forests is more frantic in tone than it actually is, leaning more towards Gunstar Heroes, for example but in reality the game is far more methodical in its approach and exploration of the levels, discovering secrets and alternate paths definitely being more of a focus than blasting your way through with your trusty crossbow.
The RPG elements of the game come from spending cash at the central game hub, with each shop run by your feathered friend, Patty. As you collect certain items, you are able to unlock different attacks and potions which help you in the main game, including arrows that can be fired at targets dotted around the levels that in turn lead you to further treasures. This really adds replayability to the game and I found myself quite enjoying re-working through levels I’d already mastered and finding out the extras that were unreachable on the first run through.
The music is suitably jaunty and has a very SNES tone to it which completely matches the visuals. The checkpoint system is also quite fun with ‘Retro’ the badger saving your progress on a level for what is initially a small sum, but as you use him more and more, the price rises and can get to a point where you have to offset your riches against the chances of dying, a nice touch which led to me cursing my tight-fistedness on occasion! 
(I also enjoyed Retro’s comments, nods to classic titles which add to the cheery vibe of the game)
Summary
Fox n Forests is a fun and challenging title that relishes the retro-gaming nostalgia it creates and the love that the developers have for the game shines through in the game play. 
Sometimes games that focus on re-creating the past can feel stuck in it but Fox n Forests has enough charm and character up its sleeve to make it feel like a lost gem of the 16-bit era...and firing that crossbow is SATISFYING.
Right, I’m off to learn how to flip seasons in real life so it’s permanent summer.
 ❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt