Märchen Forest is a dungeon JRPG developed by PrimaryOrbit and published by Clouded Leopard Entertainment. This game was first only available for consoles, recently being brought to the PC platform.
Note: There are two different versions of this game on Steam, Märchen Forest: Mylne and the Forest gift plus the DLC Märchen Forest: Requiem of the Astral World, and also just Märchen Forest which is a complete version with the DLC already packaged in. My review is based on the newer complete and reworked version.
We live in a Forest, still unknown to the open world, filled with lots of mysterious creatures and events. Mylne, the little girl we will have the honor to accompany through her adventure was given to an old Pharmacist to take care of her while her mother had to go away for some time.
Mylne, eager of discovering new capabilities and knowledge, was experimenting over the cauldron of the old Pharmacist. Thanks to this she was given the possibility to learn to brew potions with the Pharmacist giving her lessons and overviewing her.
Success didn't wait for us very long. After gathering ingredients and taking parts in a quiz game around Mushrooms we successfully reach 3 pharmacist titles in no time.
After having conjured a spell that brought Winter for a few days over the warm forest, Mylne discovered a hidden entrance to an underground cavern. This is where we start our true adventure.
In search of our mother, we take things at hand and we start working our way through this labyrinth.
On our way down we encounter lost souls, haunting through the galleries of the labyrinth, which we will have to defeat to continue our way. The deeper we go the more new souls are blocking our way and the stronger they are. While we fight our way down we can gather items, which are necessary to give us upgrades for food, health, armor, weapons, relics, notes, and ingredients necessary for cooking and brewing potions.
All the while we travel down the labyrinth consuming food. This means we have to be able to provide ourself if we don't want to die from hunger. The First Layer of the labyrinth is designed to help gather a good amount of food while food becomes scarce the further down the dungeon you explore. This provides an additional touch to the game by giving us a sense of realism and challenge since food is not easy to acquire deep down.
While exploring more and more of the labyrinth we end up discovering Flamel's Laboratory. Flamel is a highly capable alchemist and researcher from the past millennia. This is where we find our first clues about our mother which are quite surprising and with this information a new adventure begins.
For this second adventure, we are this time not alone which is a very appreciable change. Rosetta, the girl buying our relics from the previous Labyrinth is accompanying us. With her on our side we start our way through the unknown depths of the Astral world, again gathering for all kinds of items and ingredients, but also be careful with new types of enemies which are very strong and hard to defeat.
A lot of new elements give us a completely new and dark story, where we also discover elements of Rosetta's past thanks to Lethe, Mistrel of Dusk, and her music box. We see what Rosetta had to go through and what led to her being what she is today here and now. But what called us still remains a mysterious matter until the very end.
In addition, before we face the final boss, we have the possibility to make our way back to the entrance, which will give us the opportunity to unlock access to new bosses and a brand new Dungeon with new enemies even stronger than the previous ones.
What secret hide the new dungeon is a mystery which has befallen the dead Researchers, trapped in a dimensional world unable to die.
The game is presented as a gathering and Dungeon JRPG. We level up Mylne by challenging lost souls and monsters and upgrade her skills by finding rare materials and defeating bosses. This game is also about survival, where you have to search for food, cook and brew potions, and defeating enemies along the way.
Aside from this, a couple of small side games can be done, as example completing a Mushroom quiz or even helping an Owl to discover the Astral world through different quests.
The Dungeon is presented in layers, with each having a number of rooms that also may contain their own labyrinth to get through. Be too careless, and death awaits you by walking over traps. The game keeps a consistent feeling of suspense knowing that danger may be lurking around every corner. Progressing through the dungeons unlocks the story further.
What starts out with a story featuring a happy-go lucky catgirl eventually moves into one with a much darker tone. This took me by surprise and was something I absolutely was not expecting.
Visuals, Voices, and Music:
Märchen Forest is presented to us in a 3D animated world, with beautiful graphic design and very cute character arts. The CG's are often flashing us with a bright light at first, then transitioning into some very beautiful and stunning backgrounds to the scene, with also a well-detailed dungeon world, scary-looking monsters, and souls. All this combined together gives the story-flow an even darker appearance to the game.
The game is fully voiced, contrary to its predecessor which was only partially voiced.
The music fits the tone of the game quite well with a variety of different instruments depending on the current story-part.
You can play in both full-screen mode and windowed mode, but I highly recommend playing fullscreen as it is a pretty game.
Routes and Achievements:
The game does not feature any routes, but there are a few missable events if you simply follow the story that will take a second playthrough to obtain all of them and unlock the achievements.
There are 29 Steam achievements, with most being very challenging get.
Märchen Forest is not at all the game I did expect to play. From the presentation, I was expecting a peaceful happy-go-lucky game with a very cute-looking Catgirl, some item gathering, and idle playing in the forest. In the end, I was surprised as to how quickly the atmosphere of the game changed, from a happy Pharmacist grinding to a deep dark, and unknown dungeon which is all but inviting to enter.
The grind through the dungeon may be long but was for me all but tiresome. The monsters kept challenging us, the difficulty was permanent thanks to time running out for food, traps hindering our way, and occasional side quests/missions to complete giving additional content to the game and still be a part of the current story.
Unveiling the story was a lot of fun and suspense. I kept asking myself, how darker can this story become? And each time I thought it can't be worse it was getting worse. We experience death, foolishness, courage, sadness, and pain throughout the story. We get strongly attached to some of the characters in the game because of what they had to through and the actual character type.
The character evolution was very neat, with fighting we level up, chasing down treasures and relics we earn money, and new items allowing us to buy and find new clothing boosting up our overall stats. In the second story, having Rosetta with us with very cool, I do really like her, and how she attacks with her scythe, supports us by using relics, and even heals us or gives us food during battles.
Thanks to a mysterious priestess we are capable of also leveling up Rosetta and so improving not only her effectiveness in a battle, but improving the heal and food ratio she gives us who is definitely game-changing once she reaches a high level.
I did really love all the side quests and the side characters too, giving their own touch of appeal and humor in the game helped to lighten up the quick darkening of the story to a comfortable pace.
The end of the game and the additional dungeon are a challenge through and through. The bosses being hard enough to defeat that we need a lot of reruns to have our first win, not to mention that every good thing means once is not enough but also that on the second go it become even tougher thanks to new attacks and often changing attack pattern rendering the fight even more challenging.
The game does not fail to make me sweat, requesting 100% carefulness and attention on what our next move is.
I found myself loving absolutely everything about Märchen Forest and can definitely recommend it to not only every RPG and JRPG fan but also to every Anime fan!
Check out the game in STEAM
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