All right, here’s where we start to get into the inherent issues of Early Access—I spent much of the day hopelessly stuck in Foxtail, and I could have sworn that I used every object on every other object both in my inventory and the world to no avail. In a finished release, you know that this sort of thing is almost certainly a “you” problem and a solution really does exist. In an Early Access game, however, you’re left wondering if you’ve simply hit the wall of the current content and no puzzle solution has been implemented yet. Or maybe something was done in an order the developers didn’t anticipate, leaving you without some crucial item needed to progress. None of those things turned out to be the case, and a quick look back through my screenshots allowed me to piece together what I had been missing, but I was certainly frustrated enough to weigh the possibility for awhile there.
I turned shinies on for a little bit
I’ve finished enough adventure games without guides to feel a little guilty turning on these shiny hint things that show you what can be interacted with, but desperate times called for desperate measures; while the first hour and and half was full of new discoveries even in those rare moments of not knowing what to do, the following two and a half hours or so were spent in a static world where a single puzzle blocked off the rest of the game. The problem is simple: you’re tasked with finding four tea ingredients, and two of these were obvious and easy to acquire. The other two, on the other hand, gave me some serious trouble. One (tutsan) is a yellow flower that I could have sworn doesn’t actually exist, and it turns out that I was right—it’s scripted to appear once you have the other three ingredients, ensuring that it’s the last one you grab for story reasons. The tutsan wasn’t driving me anywhere near as crazy as the catswort, though. This is protected by a cat, and no items work to move it away. I tried everything I could think of, from distracting it with a ball to going outside and using the sunlight and a puppet to create a silhouette of the house’s former owner.
The shinies allowed me to make one new item discovery, which was a carrot that you can only acquire by clicking on a specific area of a bin. That seems like a strange decision given how the other items have stood out, but it’s entirely possible that the carrot is a pointless item. You’d think that it would work to draw out Foxtail’s lone rabbit, but no. The cat isn’t interested, either, and giving it to the creature in the tree hollow doesn’t cause it to hand you a new item like with other foods. I ran around using the carrot on everything whether the combination made sense or not, and ultimately realized that I was every bit as stuck as before. It was only when I decided to give up and start organizing my Foxtail screenshots that I realized that the cat had actually accepted a slice of pie much earlier. On a hunch, I went outside of the house and put another slice of pie on the ledge, and this lured the cat away.
All things considered, not my favorite puzzle. I was frustrated enough that I would have accepted bloody murder via the knife or hammer options (and believe me, I tried) without making a peep about animal cruelty. At the same time, though, the cat accepts the pie right off the bat, so there’s enough of a clue there to figure out what you need to do, even if it’s a pretty tough puzzle for the very first area to have.
After finally clearing the cat hurdle, it was a straight shot to the credits. None of the remaining puzzles are quite that difficult, so it felt like more of a pleasant victory lap than anything. I’d characterize my Early Access Foxtail experience, then, as a bell curve of cat-related irritation, where the beginning and end were thoroughly charming, but ever so slightly marred by a giant cat-shaped ball of madness.
Some bugs I’ve found
I’ve seen this message on multiple occasions, and this was the root of my paranoia that I might have failed to receive a crucial plot item required to continue forward. This isn’t something that I could consistently reproduce, but the message appeared most often after I’d dump a bunch of items into the hollow at the top of the tree and then climb down to pick up any new goodies that appeared at the base.
This bug, on the other hand, is 100% reproducible. When you unlock the chest in Leah’s grandfather’s shed, there are some pictures that you can look at. Pressing F12 (and possibly other keys, though I only tested with F12 because that’s my screenshot key) causes the picture to be put down before all of the dialogue about it has finished, leaving the mouse cursor in its spinning wheel state and making it impossible to interact with anything. Basically, the game becomes softlocked.
[Update: the softlock bug has already been fixed in a patch despite the game not officially releasing for another week and a half, so Foxtail is going to release without any major bugs that I personally encountered.]
Something else you might notice is that saving takes much longer than it used to. That’s because the save size has ballooned from 1 MB to 3 MB to 13 MB as I’ve made progress in the story. It’s hard to say if this is intentional or not, but I’m a little worried that this pace will continue and saves will eventually be 500 MB each.
Foxtail is a worthwhile game
Cat-related bouts of psychotic rage aside, Foxtail is really special. I was worried at first that it’d turn out to be a furry game (which isn’t judgment—it’s just safest to avoid games that pander to a fetish), but it’s actually more like Zootopia in the sense that it’s an entirely innocent experience that furries will incidentally get something extra out of. As a non-furry, I found that it holds up as a genuinely entertaining and charming experience, and I look forward to seeing how it develops over time.