The idle genre has been one of the easiest to design games around, but the hardest in terms of iterating on. Leave it too simple and people get bored, complicate things too far and they’ll get pushed away. For my #7 pick, we have a game that embodies the idle design, but adds to it in great ways.
Forager originally started as a game jam title with the success at the jam giving the developer the motivation to turn it into a full-fledged game. Forager’s design is simple, keep on building and unlocking new things to do.
Like a traditional idle game, the game begins slow with players having to mine rocks and chop trees by hand. Resources are refined into new items with the early goal to unlock new equipment that speeds things up. The game does an amazing job of presenting the notion of scale — as each new unlock greatly improves on the respective task.
That kind of design is nothing new to idle games, but its where Forager goes from there that gets it on the list. Keep playing, and you’ll soon unlock new islands with their own resources, dungeons to explore, puzzles to solve, all while growing in scale. The game’s progression system also awards experience, which upon leveling up, lets players unlock new things to do or upgrade aspects of their production.
Of all the idle games I’ve played, this one provides the most depth in terms of growth and things to do. With that said, the main reason it’s not ranked higher is that at its core it’s still an idle game. You’re going to have to spend a lot of time doing things slowly before you can ramp up. Since the game’s release, there have been updates that added in more content and items to build, which is rare for an idle game.
Forager is one of those games that’s aimed at a specific market. If you hate idle design, then it’s not going to do anything for you, but it’s possibly the best example of this kind of gameplay loop.
Coming in at #6, we’re going to talk about one of the biggest surprises of the year, so surprising, that even the developers didn’t think it would be that big.
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