What I found after many hours into Märchen Forest was a world out of fairy tales with all sorts of friends to meet from snakes to flowers. Create our own potions through the art of alchemy and learn how to fight in a massive dungeon crawling experience! Humor, friendship, valuable life long lessons and a heartfelt story about little Myln saving her mother.
A special thanks to the developers at Primary Orbit for giving us a chance to explore this adventure and trusting us with this review.
I wonder if the developers forgot to optimise their game for the Nintendo Switch console? My very first experience with Märchen Forest was like this: I pressed the A button like we always have to when starting a new game but nothing happened. I thought “What’s wrong? Did the game froze on me already?” I tried to press all the buttons and then found out that I needed to press the B button instead, my reaction was just “Huh that was unexpected”.
This layout is great for PlayStation and PC players but not for those playing on Nintendo consoles, too many times I found myself pressing the wrong button.
Now for the overall gameplay analysis, Märchen Forest splits the narrative in episodes with increased difficulty by changing the gameplay a little bit with new mechanics added in later episodes as well, spices up the grinding inside the dungeons but it still is very heavy on said grinding. Let’s take a look at them separately without any spoiler so you know what to expect.
Starting her training as an apothecary Mylne is told by her grandfather to gather many ingredients for the potions she will have to make. We explore the area around their house and a little of the forest around it but it’s not big. In order to gather every ingredient I talked to all sorts of friendly creatures or plants. Just talk to everyone and anything so you won’t be stuck without knowing what do to like I first did, even a rock may surprise you!
The gameplay at this stage is just slow with only dialogue and fetch quests so can be a very boring start, especially if you get lost on what to do next. Märchen Forest could have improved this part of the game a lot more in my opinion, an idea for example would be to let us make the same potions we will be using later in the dungeons, this first episode was mostly skippable and nothing you learned here skills wise will be useful again in the game so it felt like a wasted part of the game that only served to start the narrative of the next episode.
Our little apothecary has passed her tests and managed to finish the strongest potion so everyone gathers around to celebrate the occasion. This powerful potion enough to change the weather but with this, a dangerous cave entrance also appears. This episode is when the game started for me, after 2 hours with nothing too exciting going on to keep me entertained the dungeon was very much welcome to change the dynamic and pace of the story.
At first glance the dungeons are very simple in design, not randomly generated either and unfortunately you have no map to help you navigate them. Exploring the maze with a top down view and get lost until you find the stairs to move to the next floor will be your usual and then the random encounters. I enjoyed the battles for sure, It let’s you perform actions on a real time so if you plan your attacks correctly you can evade their attacks very easily and then move for the kill speeding up the exploration and it will be many hours worth of it too.
As you explore your character will have their hunger depleted, food isn’t hard to find so no stress there but if you do starve or die in battle Mylne is forced back to the first floor of the dungeon. The only way to make progress is by finding portals that will let you start from that floor onwards.
Episode 2 had a lot more going for it but it takes a long time to reach the last floors and grinding for the last battle is also necessary… There is at least 6 hours worth of grinding until you reach the level and hear necessary to finish this episode and all you will be doing is dungeon crawling, if you like the grind then jump in on this adventure.
I was very surprised that episode 3 existed after watching the credits. Episode 3 will let you start over and make a different choice so you can hopefully save everyone this time. A new ability mechanic is added to help you but the dungeons will now deplete your hunger much, much faster spicing things up a little while making sure you still feel the challenge during your adventure. Aside from this the gameplay doesn’t change, you keep going deeper into the dungeon until you reach the area you were before in episode 2 but seeing the story unfold in a entirely different route was fun for me and made me want to keep playing.
A little nice feature that you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery and the music. All-around very good sound choices in and out of the dungeon, memorable tracks played in every key moment that enhances your experience like it should be.
The voice acting from the Japanese actors is amazing as always too, you can disable them if you wish by talking to a frog inside your home but English voices are not available.
Märchen Forest is a game with lots of love put into it by the developers, you can really notice it when playing through the game. A loving story between mother and daughter with a very vast dungeon to explore and after all of that every character you meet that will help you. Some caracters stuck with me and I will keep fond memories of them for a long time. Despite feeling like it dragged down for too long the ending was very rewarding, definitely worth the effort you put into it. The levels are huge and their designs down the line only get better and better.
In my overall experience, even after appreciating the ending, there was not enough content to feel like it was worth the price for my taste. I played tons of other indies from this genre and certainly many of them had many more features to offer with a more accessible price. That said, it can certainly be a more suitable game for newcomers at exploring dungeons and the basic RPG gameplay.