Friday , 23 February 2024
PSVR2 GamesReviews

The Foglands Review

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 civilization 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 into The Foglands once again.

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 expect to die at first, as you gradually build up your character to be stronger 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. Unfortunately outside of increasing your health, these boosts don’t have enough punch or impact that makes you feel like you have that extra power.

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-ups, 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. 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. Personally I would recommend using these to buy the maps first over the extra power-ups.

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 the scrap man or by using it before a run to purchase some items in the lobby 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 base when you run into the scrap 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. But, this sort of came across as mixed-bag for me, and in most cases I just stick to the guns – and to be honest I prefer the gun you start with.

Where the gunplay does have some issues, like the weapons feeling weightless and no visual recoil with the bullets just going off in random directions, it offers less frustrations than the other options. The melee is very hit and miss on whether it picks up the collision and where the throwing works feels a little pointless.

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 completed it on my very first run in just over an hour with no real difficulty – then I switched to regular and it made it felt 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.

The worlds are procedurally-generated per run, with it mixing it up by generating a random mix of set rooms and environments – and although I have seen some rooms a good few times it has never really got boring or repetitive.

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 some nice places to explore and fight in.

Unfortunately, the audio doesn’t quite live up to the visual design and is very much mixed. The soundtrack is outstanding and I would love it be on Spotify (as I would listen to it outside of the game). As you progress though your runs the soundtrack progresses with it, adding guitar, industrial beats with a spattering of harmonica. But, then this is matched with weapon audio that lacks that punch, which makes the weightless feeling of the gun stand out even more. Outside of the music and the voice acted lines being well done, the rest of the audio made it a functional game, rather than feeling like it was designed to bring the great setting to life.

COMFORT

60%
THE VERDICT
Summary

The Foglands covers everything you would want out of a roguelike, but none of it stands out from what is already available. With the strongest elements of the game being the art design and soundtrack. I think ultimately if you are a big fan of roguelikes and fatigue for the genre has not hit you yet, then you might find a place in your library for this game. Even with this mind and the flaws it has, I do enjoy my visits to The Foglands and find myself wanting to return for another run.

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