If the world around you forced what was left out of humanity underground, how do you think you would do? Do you think everyone would try and work together to make things work or would greed be the mindset of many? If there was a chance you could make the run to gather supplies knowing that your life could be over at any moment? But what if taking that opportunity leads you into deeper and darker paths, how many of us would still take the opportunity or just let fate take its course? It’s interesting when we start thinking about the what-ifs. But does developer Well Told Entertainment bring the desire to uncover old secrets? Let’s find out with The Foglands on the PlayStation VR2.
The Foglands is an atmospheric roguelike adventure where you’ll discover new paths and uncover old secrets. Run into the unknown, fight monsters, scavenge loot, and try to make it back before you are swallowed by the fog. So before you go running in with guns blazing with nothing left to live for, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First, as always, make sure you have enough room. You don’t want to be swinging your arms and hitting something or someone do you? Second, make sure those Sense controllers are charged. Third, a lot of my gameplay footage did not record as intended, so I will only be showing footage from the earlier parts. And finally, just try to have some fun.
To help with the story so you can get a sense of what is going on, long ago, a mysterious and toxic fog rolled across the land. Humans formed strongholds and went underground just to survive. The humans relied on those that were brave enough to set foot in the fog to gather resources, called ‘Runners’. As time went on, the Runners dwindled and basically, if you are well, fit enough, then you would be recruited to become one. And congratulations are in order, because you, Jim, have just been recruited.
When you start the game, I want to point out that the setting does give off the underground vibe with the darkness that surrounds you in a fog-like manner, with the only lights being present with lanterns and the blueish distance. you have a few choices to make. You can start the game or start the game in the First Person Mode. More on this in a minute. Once you pick your slot, it’s going to be a choice of difficulty. If you want the challenge, then select the Normal Mode. If you want to enjoy what is presented with the damage that you do is increased while any damage you take is decreased, then select the Story Mode. The next choice is if you want to play standing or seated.
You will start descending down only to come in contact with Marion who gives you a choice. Head to the left to go through the tutorial or to the right to get in the elevator to descend down into the mines. It would be a good idea to go through the tutorial so you can learn how to pick up and throw items, use and reload your weapons, crouch, jump, and so on. As you continue, it’s where you come across a worm monster that well, adds to the end of Jim’s journey as we know it. But, it’s not over for Jim and that’s when you will meet The Stranger who gives a Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog vibes, with his help and a handshake, of course, thinks you have some kind of potential to be a legend in the Foglands.
Your venture into the Foglands has you going through three biomes with two floors each where you will be trying to find loot, keys that the past runners have left, and fighting monsters & bosses. You will be trying to pass each room of each of the procedurally generated floors, which to be honest, felt more of the same rather than procedurally generated. As you are moving around fighting against monsters either by shooting them throwing objects, or using those objects as a melee weapon, you will come across random ammo, which I strongly suggest you take the time to pick up and have golden scrap automatically be picked up
Any scrap you do pick up can be used to help upgrade things such as your weapons and health, which you will want to try and do before each run. This can be done at either Ursa’s shop where there are computers where you can select weapons, tools, equipment, and health, and also during your run where you will meet the Mine Man who will be happy to trade with you as well as sell items that seem to be a little on the higher price side. I mean, I get it, the resources are hard to come across and there are not that many Runners out there, and the ones that you probably heard about from some person that has been underground a little too long have told you, but geez, it’s expensive to by some health aid that you can usually find health from some of the monsters you face.
There will be cases that have a purple color to them and will hold cards that you can select from. Each card is different and they do different things and have different levels. The keys you come across can also be used to unlock lockers in the back of Ursa’s shop. In my time, I found a few cards that seemed to help more than the others.
When shooting enemies, I noticed that after the third shot, they would be defeated, and sometimes if you perform different combos, things would go gray and time slows down so you can reload, shoot other enemies, and even dodge bullets which I found to be something additional that I wish there was more of in the game.
Earlier, I mentioned about the First Person Mode. Yes, you can play this in VR as well as playing just on the TV using your DualSense controller. Playing in the mode, you do have a center point to help assist you when you are trying to aim. There are some things that I liked in this mode vs playing in VR. First, was the reloading. In VR, you actually have to eject your ammo, grab ammo from your chest area, and then drop it into your gun. This becomes more challenging than it should when you are trying to defeat the bosses with more enemies than the actual rooms of the floors themselves, and trying to pick up ammo and reload. In First Person Mode, just push the triangle and instant reload. And second, entering different rooms. In VR, when you get to a certain point and enter a room, the headset will go black for a few seconds and then you can resume. Playing in the First Person Mode, there was none of this, and I am still puzzled as to why the breaking of immersion has to happen as frequently as it does.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. When playing, I always like to look at not only things in the distance, the design of things such as weapons and characters, and even my hands in VR. When the game starts and you are descending in the elevator, seeing your hands with the details of the material and even the light shining off the plates on the gloves to even being introduced to The Stranger for the first time, it looks good. I did enjoy the overall look and feel of this Apocalyptic Western world with the different weapons and how the developers used the PlayStation VR2 features with such things as headset rumbling, eye-tracking, and using the triggers for resistance. However, seeing some of the monsters versus other monsters, and the looks of the level designs up close seemed more basic than they should given the power of the headsets this game is out for with the Quest 3/Pro and PlayStation VR2. With the sound, the soundtrack has this Western energetic sound with the voices of the characters that I really enjoyed. This is the type of soundtrack I could just listen to on its own.
There are some things that I would love to see. First, the ability to just have the ammo automatically picked up like the golden scrap would be very helpful, especially when it comes to the boss fights. Second, an adjustable belt. Being able to have the option to move the belt would be great as at times, it can be challenging to look at what you have and you might have to bend forward more than necessary at times. Third, the melee system. There is something off about the melee and doesn’t feel as effective as it should. Fourth, the graphics. Add a graphic update that can really take advantage of these headsets. Fifth, add an option to increase the walking speed. Sixth, the breaking of immersion in VR. And finally, take what works with the First Person Mode and add that to the VR mode.
The Foglands provides an action roguelike experience using a unique Western theme from the characters to the music that just needs some tender loving care to fix any shortcomings and add to what works well as there is something special here. Sometimes we see things in people that others may not see or understand, but sometimes, the more we spend time and experience what is being offered, the more we can understand others and ourselves.
In case you missed the trailer please enjoy. Until next time, I need to listen to this soundtrack more.