During the course of 2023, I’ve been looking for that one game that truly sells virtual reality. Some have come close like I Expect You to Die 3 and The Light Brigade but I’m still after something with panache. Well Told Entertainment’s The Foglands seemed to be a good contender as an atmospheric roguelike shooter. However, as this The Foglands review will detail, the experience gets caught up in its own gloom.
In the world of The Foglands humanity now lives underground due to a deadly fog. You play a Runner, a dangerous job which involves scavaging for loot and trying to make it back alive. The main goal is to head down into the depths to reach and kill a dangerous beast that threatens the whole community. Unfortunately, this loose sci-fi/western mashup doesn’t evoke the sort of charm you’d expect. The one interesting aspect – the mysterious stranger – is sorely underused whilst the rest of the narrative lacks spark.
Even before the narrative begins, The Foglands gets off to a bad start with a series of glitches. It’s never a good sign when you first encounter an issue in the opening menu, with a couple of laser pointers floating in mid-air with no hands attached to them. For the sake of interaction and immersion, you’d expect your hands to feature. Alas, this problem arises elsewhere when looking through items at the store. My hands would appear and then disappear making any selection frustrating at best.
This led to one of the most bizarre occurrences I’ve encountered in a VR roguelike, going in unarmed. Most games in this genre supply you with a base weapon that you’ll initially go in with, then upgrade. And The Foglands sticks to this basic premise. However, you do have to go to the store and pick one up, it isn’t in your holster automatically. Due to the annoying selection frustration as mentioned I went into my first run assuming I’d be armed. My bad, no weapon meant hand-to-hand combat which The Foglands does support but I wouldn’t encourage. Creed: Rise to Glory this isn’t.
So it’s best to rely on your ranged weaponry and explosives to deal with threats. You’d hope this is where the game shines but its gunplay is mediocre at best. It’s so unsatisfying and quite telling that my favourite aspect was flipping the pistol back up once an energy clip had been inserted. You’ve got four equipment slots plus a fifth central one for all your ammo, providing a middle ground between full auto and manual reloading.
So there must be good aspects to The Foglands, you may ask. Well, the mysterious stranger – an aspect of Death – helps you return time and again for another run. He’s the most notable part of the entire game and features some great lines and voice work.
That doesn’t make up for the litany of issues that plague the rest of the game. Poor optimisation means that walking through dull environments causes judder and noticeable lag. It was shocking in the training area when I had to use the crouch button only to find my head clipping through the environment. Or the time when I faced a boss only to dispatch it with ease because it jumped up and down on a ledge endlessly until dead.
And then there’s the constant loading of new areas. It’ll occur every couple of rooms, with the screen going black with a loading wheel appearing. Hardly keeping you in the moment. This wound me up even further having walked through six-odd rooms without a foe in sight!
The Foglands Review Summary
The Foglands went from one of my more anticipated VR games of 2023 to my least favourite. Unlike exciting roguelikes such as Yuki, The Light Brigade, In Death or Compound, The Foglands manages to make the genre dull and lifeless. The action isn’t exciting, the enemy AI offers no challenge and there is a myriad of issues that need to be addressed. You are best to avoid The Foglands and choose from any of the much better roguelike games currently out there.