Rather than taking advantage of the Nintendo Switch’s array of buttons, Bonus Level Entertainment have opted to push players into close quarters with monsters to initiate combat. Whilst this mechanic forces players to get stuck in, it completely buffs the use of the protagonists’ cross bow which oddly has unlimited ammo considering the aforementioned.
The Crossbow can only be used whilst standing still with blade attacks only registering with a directional input, not to mention the lack of attack capability during a double jump. All of these actions are mapped to one button, a third button is used for abilities unlocked later in the game. One feels like the developer is trying to create goals whilst neglecting the vanilla player experience.
Fox n Forrests almost certainly feels like a classic 16-bit platformer, however it also brings outdated and defunct mechanics that makes the title feel this way. Let’s talk about another example, the level design. Fox n Forests contains certain collectibles to unlock bonus levels which are linked to existing stages, but in order to progress through the game, players are forced to collect items to continue forward.
Again, this feels like another outdated mechanic designed to stretch out the already scarce amount of content at the players’ expense. Speaking of expense, players will also need to keep some coin handy for unlocking checkpoints. This reviewer feels like he’s playing a freemium game but with in-game currency and tasks. How does that even begin to make sense?
The levels are clearly not designed to be re-played, with only one or two secret areas present rather than different routes implemented to help cure player fatigue. A retro title would be forgiven for this design flaw, but in today’s competitive indie scene it doth butter no parsnips! A quick fix would be to offer the title in its full fat form with extra levels included and foregoing the mandatory collection errands. There are other collectibles available in every level that can be used to unlock other goodies, but that still doesn’t excuse the lack of content available for players.
Platform, Collect, Go Back and Repeat
Fox n Forrests offers another solution to engaging gameplay through its lightweight perks system. Whilst offering new moves and certain upgrades, it is a welcome addition. Welcome in the sense that the title needed something to mix up the repetitive nature of its own gameplay. For example, a new air attack move is introduced via this system which explains the lack of airborne attacks. But again, this reviewer feels that this should have been vanilla content from level one.
The big gimmick with Fox and Forests is the protagonists’ ability to change weather conditions on the fly. Whilst this has been seen in the Legend of Zelda series before now, it’s a great way for players to mix up Fox n Forests gameplay a little. Whilst coming in handy to freeze water based enemies in an icy abyss, it’s also used as a navigation mechanic. For example, on the third level players will need to change the current season to Autumn which will trigger giant falling leaves to navigate certain parts of the level.
Time to Recharge
With a cool mechanic comes a cost, in this case a depleting magic meter. This reduced on a second by second basis for as long as players decide to run around in the alternate weather conditions. This needs to be monitored as players approach the mid to end game as it’s quite easy to run out of magic. If this happens, the only option is to wait around until the magic meter recharges.
Fox and Forrests does present itself very well and previously mentioned. Both the soundtrack and pixel art aesthetic lends itself to a classic bygone age of gaming that the majority of us remember fondly. A lot of work has clearly gone into designing the various monsters and characters in-game, but again is tarnished by poorly written narrative and Character names such as ‘Retro’ (Who is also the guy who sells checkpoints, twit)
Graphics and Presentation: 3.5
Overall Score: 3 / 5
Whilst Fox n Forrests does a good job of emulating the achievements of its ancestors, it has also inherited their flaws. The control scheme Is a bit of a mess and ignores the potential of current gen controller input options. The gameplay has been stretched unnecessarily by making players run back and forth unlocking additional content, all of which would have been better received as Vanilla content in a well-rounded content package. Whilst Fox n Forests doesn’t actually bring anything new to the table within its genre, it is worth playing just to add another notch in the hypothetical bedpost!
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam
Release Date: 17/05/2018
Price: £17.99 (eShop)
Publisher: Bonus Level Entertainment
Developer: Bonus Level Entertainment
Pegi Rating: 3+