FOX n FORESTS (NS) - Review

by Ben Dye , posted on 17 June 2018 / 1,880 Views

Bonus Level Entertainment’s FOX n FORESTS is an enjoyable if shallow experience that tries to capture the magic of modern throwback games. Shovel Knight rocked the world by showing us all how much we can enjoy such titles, while more recently a game like Celeste, which is absolutely fantastic, has evolved the formula by focussing heavily on narrative and emotion. Buried in the middle of such stellar titles are more average games that are playable but nothing special. This is the category that FOX n FORESTS falls into.

In FOX n FORESTS you play as a fox mercenary that decides to help out the forests, which are becoming corrupted by various villains. The ultimate threat of a 'Fifth Season' (the game’s version of a doomsday) taking over the world is what drives the story forward, and you have to beat each world’s boss and collect the magic bark in order to unlock the next season to explore.
The gameplay is, more or less, Metroidvania. There are various upgrades to health and energy to obtain, and weapon enhancements you can buy that not only make you more powerful but also allow you to unlock hidden parts of levels. These previously inaccessible areas in turn allow you to acquire other rare parts that you need to either make further advancements to your gear or to advance to new levels.
Bonus levels and new seasons (or worlds) require a certain amount of magical seeds in order to play. I found this to be slightly annoying because I would beat a world but then would be unable to access the next one until I'd collected enough magical seeds from previous levels to advance. But then, in the final world, you don’t even need to try collecting things because you know you won’t need any of them, so you can just blaze through it all the way to the end of the final level. I still had to beat the boss, of course, and these tend to be pretty fun, each either encouraging or requiring you to use your season-controlling abilities to win. The last boss I died to probably 5-6 times before finally beating, which to me is the sweet spot of ‘not too easy and not too hard.’
One of FOX n FORESTS's strength is a color-popping and cool aesthetic. Each level looks very different from the others, and all of them play a little differently too. The coolest part of this for me, in part due to the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Ages are two of my favorite games, is the fact that you can change the season in each level, which in turn causes various changes to the level's platforms and enemies. The season changer is timed out when your mana bar runs out, but it's a really fun gameplay feature that you have to use in order to get past certain obstacles and bosses.
FOX n FORESTS is a slightly more bare-bones than something like Shovel Knight, and a whole lot less story-driven than Celeste, but it's a fun experience with enough gameplay changes and replayability to make it a fun time for the few hours it takes to beat. The reality is not many games are going to capture that nostalgic magic like Shovel Knight did, and this is a decent if unexceptional attempt at doing so.



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This review is based on a digital copy of FOX n FORESTS for the NS, provided by the publisher.

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Ganoncrotch (on 17 June 2018)

That face in the background of the second image is pretty cool looking, liking the artwork.

Azzanation (on 17 June 2018)

First look, I thought it was Fox McCloud, than saw it wasn't and lost interest..