Released: December 2018
Price: Name your own price
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Available on: itch
The premise of this game is indeed in the title. Made in Unity by Henning Koczy, the player begins in an arctic looking wasteland where they must solve puzzles to find a fox that scurries off. Left alone, the player finds a card left on the ground that reveals a clue to the next puzzle.
Each puzzle solved grants the player a new card with another clue and comment about the world. The cards are well-written as the player learns the mechanics of the game and more about this mysterious fox. The font on the cards is also cute and readable, giving character development to the fox.
The sound design more than makes up for the lack of voice acting as the music is relaxing and curious. Thanks to Max Berghaus, the variation in tracks as players explore add depth to an otherwise desolate world. The sound effects are excellent and give hints to the player akin to a game like Myst. It is worth the player’s time to take a moment and enjoy the music rather than rush from card to card.
As the player progress in the game, the number of cards received upon completion of a task begins to diminish. There is even a reference to this intentionality on one of the cards later in the game. It means that gameplay started to become intuitive. Once the color mechanic is learned, the rest follows reasonably quickly.
With this, the difficulty in the puzzles slowly ramped up. It did take time to figure out the last couple of puzzles as there was little information to go off, especially compared to the beginning where the cards specifically tell the player what to do. Slowly increasing puzzle difficulty without the loss of immersion or gameplay is quite the balancing act that Foxhunt does well.
There are only a few pieces of design where the game is its weakest. For example, the main menu screen is designed well in how it ties to the cards, but it would be nice if there were an option to use the arrow keys to make a selection rather than having to move the mouse. Using the mouse is somewhat disorienting, and when trying to tab out of the game, it proves to be minorly annoying, both in the game and menus.
Another area of design that seemed lacking was a tutorial. When picking up the second card, the player is asked to move a pillar, but there is no instruction given on how to move it. One must pause the game and mouse to the Instructions page which removes the player from any immersion they had. There is, however, one place in the game that provides a tutorial, but it is half-way through the entirety of the game and only focuses on one specific action.
Lastly, hitting the tab key brings up the collected cards, but the player must move the mouse left or right to scroll through them. Perhaps using the scroll wheel or allowing the use of arrow keys to make a card selection would have been more intuitive.
Foxhunt takes roughly an hour to play, and the puzzle design and difficulty are executed well in that short time. I was genuinely stuck near the end of the game, trying to keep the ‘aspe’ open. The music and sound effects tell the player what they are doing right, much like older point-and-click games, which I loved to play as a child. More focus on user interface could help players coming into this genre. Otherwise, I hope we see more of Henning Koczy and Max Berghaus’s work either in the continuation of this game or other projects.
Who should play?
People who enjoyed the Myst series and similar titles, or those looking for a short, relaxing game.
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