FOX n FORESTS is a throwback to action platformer games from the Super Nintendo era mixed with some light RPG elements. Even though it has a colorful charm with its visuals that take heavy inspiration from that era, it also inherits some of the problems that come from action platformers of that era. This was due to the hardware limitations of the time back then, but things have obviously changed so it’s hard to justify seeing such issues remain in a newer game. FOX n FORESTS still an interesting indie game with some goofy dialogue and good gameplay, but you may need to look past a few issues to have fun.
The visuals of FOX n FORESTS are colorful and really pop out within each stage of the game’s season themed levels. You can control the layout of stages with the power to change the season for a limited time, making certain obstacles and platforms change when you do. Though you can only change between two seasons in each stage (never cycling through all four in one place) the visual differences are very obvious. Some areas do have a few spots that blend together a bit too closely, making certain characters and platforms a little difficult to see, but it’s not a frequent occurrence.
The design of enemies you run into is all animal themed, with the bosses you fight having the better looks over everyone else. Some enemies can appear multiple times throughout different seasons, but their changes aren’t always drastic or different enough to make them stand out. It would’ve been nice to see more enemies that were duplicated get more design changes when switching between seasons or seeing them appear in later stages.
Controlling your character and exploring the area is fun and can be different as you revisit each stage with new abilities over time. You attack with a crossbow and jump around like any other platformer, but you can’t jump and shoot. This becomes a big problem later in the game and can definitely get annoying when you have to rely on a slashing attack that is wonky while jumping in the air. Why you can’t shoot your crossbow while jumping is confusing and makes certain areas much harder to traverse than they need to be.
In addition, sometimes your character can feel a bit stiff when moving around and shooting on the ground. You have to completely stop your movement in order to fire, which has a slight delay afterward when you try to move again. This might’ve been a thing for games back in the Super Nintendo era, but it’s a hindrance that doesn’t need to be around now.
Like some the games that inspired it, FOX n FORESTS has a heavy emphasis on collecting items hidden within each stage. Progressing to newer levels and new seasons comes from gathering seeds that are cleverly hidden in each stage, though it can be frustrating when you’re left without any hints to ones that you might have missed the first time around. The same can be said for gaining new abilities, which are far and few between.
Defeating a boss will get you the item that yields a new crossbow ammo, but you’ll need to collect a lot of gold from defeating enemies and additional items if you want to be able to do a ground pound. This makes revisiting stages mandatory and can stretch out the amount of time you spend trying to reach new stages.
FOX n FORESTS is an interesting take on an action platformer with a visual style that will appeal to anyone that has an affinity for retro games. The problems in its gameplay will stand out and cause some frustration, even though it has a lighthearted and colorful charm that will appeal to anyone. The emphasis on collecting items and exploring the changing environments is great but might be overshadowed by its desire to remain authentic to the era that inspired it to a fault.
This review is based on a digital review code for FOX n FOREST for the PlayStation 4, provided by Bonus Level Entertainment.