Saturday , 13 July 2024
PSVR2 GamesReviews

The Foglands Review (Updated)

The Foglands is the new player in the VR roguelike scene, which seems to becoming a popular genre in the current marketplace. With games like Synapse and Ghost Signal bringing some new touches to the genre, does The Foglands continue this trend?

Release Date: October 31st 2023
Developer: WELL TOLD ENTERTAINMENT
Publisher: WELL TOLD ENTERTAINMENT
Price: US $34.99 / CA $46.99 / €34,99 / £28.99
Reviewed On: PlayStation VR 2
* Code Provided For Review *

THE LIFE OF A RUNNER

You will take the role of Jim a new runner, a job that helps the new underground civilisation by scavenging scrap from The Foglands. As you would expect, on your first run you meet your demise, until a shadowy character arrives and offers you immortality. With this new found immortality you set out in The Foglands once again, and you start to unfold the mysteries held within The Foglands.

SALVAGE, GUN-SLING, REPEAT

This start of the story allowed the team to set a pretense for the ‘live, die, repeat’ cycle for the roguelike genre. But, what they have done well is allowed your death and the next run unlock more backstory and lore of the characters and The Foglands – giving you a better idea of the world you are exploring.

As you would expect with a roguelike, you have to accepting dying at first, as you gradually build up your character to be stronger, upgrade your weapons with a number of permanent upgrades, and mix these with randomised power-ups you find while exploring The Foglands.

For your permanent upgrades you will need Ichor, this is something bosses drop when you defeat them, and can sometimes be taken instead of a power-up. This can be used to upgrade your health, melee and throw damage or each weapons ammo count and damage. Each player will have their own approach, but I found myself upgrading more the character stats first before moving onto the weapons.

Your power-ups which are lost on death, come in the form of finding boxes throughout your run. These will give a choice of three power-up cards, which offer a main and sub benefit. So, make sure to check both, as in some cases the secondary benefit was more useful than the main ones or could also hinder you. The power-ups come under three categories gun, hands and keys. As well as finding these power-ups you will find ‘runner keys’ while exploring, these will allow you to unlock additional power-ups and maps to open doors to secret areas. With the 1.0.3 patch giving you more information on each locker in the Lookout, it really helps guide you in which ones to unlock for your play style. Personally I would recommend using these to buy the maps first over the extra power-ups, as these open rooms throughout your run (highlighted with yellow lights), which could contain power-up boxes and/or runner keys.

The final element you will  be collecting on your runs is scrap, this the currency in The Foglands. This will allow you to by items at intervals between your runs from Mine Man or by using it before a run to purchase some items in the Lookout to take in with you from the start.  These are limited to four-slots you carry on your belt. As with your power-ups any scrap you have on you when you die will be lost. However, you can deposit it back to the lookout when you run into Mine Man, via a near-by pipe. Although doing this you might leave yourself short for buying something you might need down the line.

When it comes to the combat and taking on the creatures and monsters of The Foglands, this can be done using guns, melee and throwing items. You will find a gun that best suits how you play, however, after settling with the pistol for so long in my runs, I pivoted to the automatic as I was got further and further into my runs.

The issues I had with the gunplay have been addressed with the 1.0.3 patch, with the guns no longer seeming angled in a weird position, meaning all my bullets got in the direction I am expecting – which was the issue that made it feel so broken for me. I think one area I never gave a real chance in when originally reviewing the game was the throw-able weapons, and came away with a couple on new learns from revisiting after patch. The first was the eye-tracking plays a big part in your accuracy when throwing items, the wrench is one hell of weapon and finally if you can pick it up, it can be thrown and cause damage. Which really gives the game a a fun aspect, and you will soon learn how the game should not be taken one-hundred percent seriously when approaching your runs.

The game comes with two difficulty modes, which are story and regular. I would advise skipping over story, as I played this mode first thinking it would present some challenge at least while I learn the mechanics. But, I managed to get through my very first run in just over an hour with no real difficulty – then I switched to regular and it made it feel more like a roguelike than a very short shooter.

I wasn’t sure on the inclusion of only two difficulties when starting, as I thought once regular is done, what’s next to challenge me? To combat this We Told Entertainment took the steps of increasing the quantity and health of enemies over successive runs, making it gradually become harder the more runs you complete. With the latest patch, also bringing better AI and increasing the enemy damage, bringing more challenge as the amount of enemies increase. Since, I played for review as well, they have introduced some very interesting ‘crab surprises’ as the team at Well Told Entertainment call them.

The worlds are procedurally-generated per run, with it mixing it up by generating a random mix of set rooms and environments – and although in my twenty-three hours of playtime I am now starting to learn a lot of the rooms layouts, I am still finding them fun.

One little hint I would give is in-between each run make sure to exhaust any possible dialogue in the lookout. As failing to do this will not progress the games storyline. This is something I failed to do, and was informed of this by Zara from Well Told Entertainment. (The team are currently working on a narrative guide to help players make sure they have done everything required to progress the story in the meantime).

THE WILD WEST

One area I loved in The Foglands is the design and art direction aspect the world, mixing together post-apocalyptic and old wild west themes – which came together perfectly. With a Borderland-esc aesthetic, mixed with the dark, murky and foggy locations you would expect underground. At first I thought the dark caves were all a bit dull and not that pleasing on the eye, but the more you play and areas start to open up, it does offer nice places to explore and fight in.

The part of the audio that standings out for me is the soundtrack, this is outstanding and something I wish was on Spotify, as I would listen to this outside of playing the game. As you progress though your runs the soundtrack progresses with it, adding guitar, industrial beats with a spattering of harmonica. All of the voice work is of a high quality with each characters voice portraying that character and their attitudes well. Will the atmospheres fitting with the foggy caves and caverns you are in well, with that sort of claustrophobic closed of hum is the air. My only real issue with the audio is a feel some of the guns sound should pack a bit more a punch than they do, but this doesn’t pull you from the world or game in anyway.

COMFORT

Review Updated: 26/02/2024
Following Patch 1.0.3 – Gameplay in the Fog update
Previously graded 60%

81%
THE VERDICT
Summary

The Foglands covers everything you would want out of a roguelike, bringing reasons to keep running to get your permanent upgrades, unlocking all the possible power-up cards and improving each run, as you find your perfect play style. But, what it does differently is brings a narrative driven story, that also gives you an additional feeling of progression on top of getting stronger each run. Over my twenty-three hours of playtime I now have in the game, I am also finding ways to use some of the power-up cards in ways they weren’t made to be used, which certainly makes it feel open to experimentation, as well as offering what has now become a very solid roguelike with the 1.0.3 patch updates. With the team at Well Told Entertainment still taking onboard feedback following the 1.0.3 patch, I am certainly excited to see what comes further down the line.

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