Review – A Fisherman’s Tale
A Fisherman’s Tale is a different take on what seems to be becoming a popular VR experience: the diorama-like puzzle game. In most of these, you are presented with a beautiful dioramic scene in a story book setting. You can pull closer, push further, rotate and manipulate the scene as you search for and obtain clues and items. But A Fisherman’s Tale adds a unique twist. You are both the manipulator and the manipulate-ee.
You start your day and follow your routine. Brushing your wooden teeth before stoking a fire. Dusting your shells and then opening your window to look out at the sea. That is, until one day when you complete the model replica of your lighthouse. It is then when the room begins to fell literally too small.
Imagine an old photo or video, or a man watching a TV of a man watching TV of a man watching TV. And this goes on, stretching infinitely into space. This is the basic hook of A Fisherman’s Tale, but the gameplay only focuses on three levels of that infinite loop.
In A Fisherman’s Tale, you play as an old fisherman in charge of a lighthouse. Your environment is perfectly replicated in a model of the lighthouse. And you, yourself, are in a direct model of said lighthouse. And so on, and so on. Your movement is mimicked by both the fisherman in your model and the doll who’s model you reside in. If you grab a normal size shell and drop it into your lighthouse model, then the larger version of you is grabbing a larger shell and dropping it in yours. It is a 1:1 relation. Where you move, what you pick up, where you place things in your lighthouse is perfectly duplicated both in your model and outside the model you live in.
You solve puzzles using this 3D-like universe manipulation, making your way from room to room. You can set the game to give you hints or not, but the hints are rarely needed. They will give you direction on what you need to do, but what you need to do is rarely the problem needing to be solved. The “how” is the true puzzle. And A Fisherman’s Tale does a good job of making “how” just trippy enough that it never feels too simple. Your mind will instantly know what it needs to do which can make it struggle that much more with exactly how to do so.
You use Move controllers to operate your hands. The bottom two buttons are used to rotate left and right in 30-degree segments. The top two buttons are used to elongate your arms to reach things on the floor or items higher up. The center Move button is used to teleport through the environments, so VR-sickness is minimal at most. The trigger, naturally, is for grasping objects.
The art style is what you come to expect in these types of games. Cute and simple marionette characters and graphics. But in A Fisherman’s Tale, where you are basically manipulating a dollhouse, it really does fit well. Creating a charming world and forgiving the story absurdity of the tall tale. Which is told rather nicely through interactive objects in the world as well as its narrator. Both used to make the game linear through prose.
The story itself, is not a long one. From beginning to end, A Fisherman’s Tale’s six chapters took me shy of two hours. And that is with a puzzle or two really being harder for me than it should have been. So overall, expect a 90 minute to two-hour experience. However, A Fisherman’s Tale is also priced right for such a game. But in its defense, if you multiplied those two hours by each universe layer then you have an infinite amount of gameplay. No? Ok, that was a reach for me too.
Innerspace VR doesn’t really do anything to move the needle for VR, but not every title or developer needs to do this. Instead, A Fisherman’s Tale is a very well-crafted experience that is a joy to play. It runs about the length that it needs to in order to stay fun and refreshing. And in an age where every game needs to be AAA, open world, or over one hundred hours, it is nice to relax and enjoy a tale. Even a tall one.
Everything has a marionette woodchopped look that fits the story type and feel. But there are moments the game reminds you it brings more than that to the table.
Movement mostly consists of rotating, teleporting and grabbing. Puzzles are not overly complex. Game length has to be mentioned.
Narrative is well read and there are a couple other characters within the chapters. Nothing stands out as noteworthy but neither in a negative way.
Fun Factor: 8.0
Relaxing and entertaining fun game. Reminds you that not every game needs to be a shooter or AAA to be fun.
Final Verdict: 8.0
A Fisherman’s Tale is available now on PS VR, Oculus, and Vive