You open your eyes and the first thing that fades into view is a small white fox. Before you can react to this fluffy sight it spots you, fleeing in fear. You now find yourself alone in a pale landscape dotted with abandoned structures with no sense of direction or memory of how you got here, so you turn to the oldest navigation aid known to man, The Sun. When you look up for it, an alarming realization sets in as you finally notice the impossible… the life-giving Sun slowly orbiting a small pillar right next to you, smaller than ever.
You look down to where the fox was and find a note with an introduction and your first clue. It seems you and the elusive critter share a goal: Finding a way to escape.
Foxhunt is a clever and fluidly-paced puzzle game by Oregon Animator Anomalina, self-described as having similarities to Jonathan Blow’s first-person pondering simulator The Witness. If anything I found myself drawing instinctive comparisons to games like Myst, mostly due to the whimsical imaginative visuals and intuitive easy-to-learn yet difficult-to-master puzzle structure.
It’s evident right from the start how much love and polish has been put into Foxhunt, the game’s credits mention it took over 300 hours of development time, and it shows. The deceivingly simple, well-thought out presentation of the design keeps your focus locked on the task at hand without overwhelming you, and very quickly I found myself completely immersed for the full hour of gameplay.
Amonalina’s pacing seamlessly trains player’s abilities by incrementally introducing smaller concepts and puzzles, intuitively coming together as the foundation for complex solutions later on. It’s a design method familiar to anyone with knowledge of level design in games like Half-Life 2, and works perfectly here to establish a nice natural momentum
I only ever found myself stumped at the very end of the game where I eventually had to seek out the assistance of our editor, Mx. Medea. Foxhunt is the kind of title that demands you dust off your note taking skills and pay attention to the smallest details. Requiring the player map out a puzzle’s logic on paper is an old, and increasingly rare design choice that brings social circles together over the time-tested ritual of trading notes and sharing observations. It’s the beauty of puzzle games, they don’t have to be single player if you don’t want them to be.
With such a clean presentation and sense of depth, Foxhunt is an indie game you simply must make the time for.
Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for rebind.io and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice