"Drawing inspiration from mid-90s adventure games, FoxTail emits a familiar glow, with a captivating, parabolic premise where things are not what they seem."
It comes as no surprise that a game called FoxTail would catch my attention. After all, I've made it pretty apparent just how much I love puns in past reviews, and there's no greater pun than one boldly placed in the title. But there's more to FoxTail than its punny appellation. Drawing inspiration from mid-90s adventure games, FoxTail emits a familiar glow, with a captivating, parabolic premise where things are not what they seem.
Players assume the role of Leah, a spunky anthropomorphic fox who visits her grandmother deep within the forest. During her stay, she discovers that her grandmother is terminally ill. Deeply distraught, Leah seeks help from Corsak, the forest herbalist and her late grandfather's closest friend. He tells Leah that he has devised a new formula which can possibly prolong her grandmother's life but he's missing a few ingredients. One of these ingredients is the foxtail, an elusive and explosive mushroom that her grandfather spent the majority of his life searching for. With time running out, Leah embarks on a journey where the key to finding the titular fungus seemingly lies in the forest folks of the present and the folklore of the past.
Disappointingly, the early access ends just when Leah's adventure begins. Needless to say, I was left wanting more. Perhaps this is because the game has an air of gravity I wasn't entirely expecting. Whimsical in appearance, FoxTail initially led me to believe that the adventure would be a lighthearted fare. But so far, it's anything but. This game contains subtle dark undertones that inspire introspection. Unfortunately, these can easily go unnoticed if you are not someone who actively reads the supplemental texts and journals scattered throughout the game. While lengthy, these additional works also provide deeper insights to FoxTail's mystifying realm and contain subplots that will hopefully be explored in later chapters.
Framing this world is a series of stunning pixelated backdrops. Each area is meticulously detailed and evokes a feeling of warmth with vibrant color palettes. What's equally impressive is the game's sprite animations. Key frames are exceptionally tweened, making the movements appear smooth and seamless. Further immersing you in this magical place is a wide array of ambient nature sounds. From the chirping of birds to the rustling of leaves, playing through FoxTail undoubtedly feels like an idyllic respite.
Fans of the genre should feel right at home playing FoxTail. The bulk of the game so far consists of finding items and knowing where or when to use them. But to differentiate FoxTail from other point-and-click games, Gingertips Game Studio has integrated a stimulating twist to their quests — they have multiple
solutions. Not having read that italicized word initially in the game's description, bewilderment crossed my face as a key item in my inventory suddenly disappeared during an optional interaction. I frantically spent the following hour trying to recover it, but to no avail. It was only after checking the game's discussion page on Steam that I discovered that this was entirely intentional. What a foxy scheme, eh? Minor frustrations aside, this mechanic adds a layer of difficulty and complexity that's sorely lacking in recent adventure titles, and it faithfully emulates puzzles from back in the day. Anyone else remember the infamous goat puzzle from Broken Sword? So folks, if you ever find yourself stuck, here's a useful tip: when in doubt, give pies out.
Originally, I had several complaints listed in this paragraph, but many of them were resolved in the latest May update. Gingertips Game Studio has clearly taken the time and effort to listen to user feedback and adjust accordingly, which is reassuring to say the least. If anything, my only concern now is that the final product might become too easy to enjoy. Several of the challenging quests have been redesigned in order to decrease the difficulty spike. I'm hoping that in the following chapters, the developers find a balance in designing puzzles so that they maintain their intricacy but aren't as mind-boggling.
On the whole, FoxTail is off to a promising start, and I for one can't wait to see what's in store for our endearing vixen. Will she succeed where her grandfather failed? Or will her grandmother succumb to her illness first? Follow the tale to find out.