Review – Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure

A while ago, I talked about my brief experience playing Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure at E3 2019. I did mention that it had enough interesting additions to the extremely tired fishing formula to make me actually look forward to the final product. Then again, my experience, as previously mentioned, was very brief. I had no idea how a fishing game would be able to hook me on the long run, pun definitely intended. After finally playing it, I certainly have mixed feelings towards it, but there’s one thing I can certainly say: they really tried their best.


Hmmm…. sushi…

“How to make a fishing game interesting for a wider audience” is the problem Natsume tried to solve with Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure. As previously mentioned, they have decided to include a bit of story, some anime artwork, as well as light RPG mechanics in order to make this game appeal to a demographic other than the half a dozen fishing game enthusiasts out there. Namely, they’re trying to appeal to Japanese gamers with these new inclusions.

First of all, the additions. How do RPG mechanics work in a fishing game like this? It’s simple, as they’re as shallow as the puddles you’re fishing in, and that’s more than enough. Each one of your three main characters levels up in different ways. The main playable character levels up by catching lots of fish. That allows you to improve him through a big skill tree, upgrading stats like stamina, reeling strength, concentration, and so on.

The other two characters level up by crafting items for you in between fishing days. Your best friend is the craftsman, the one who will constantly create new rods, reels, and bait. He acquires the necessary materials by himself while you’re fishing at the nearby pond, but you can also buy extra ingredients at the shop. He levels up by creating the aforementioned fishing tools, meaning that he gets better at crafting the more he crafts. Your female friend is the group’s cook and will level up by making more and more dishes. They act as passive buffs in between fishing days, as well as active stamina potions while you’re fishing. Overall, the RPG mechanics aren’t very impressive, but they do create a somewhat compelling gameplay loop at times, especially in the beginning of the game.

The story elements are very forgettable, but hey, there is a plot in here at least. It’s all about cleaning nearby lakes and looking for rare fish specimens in order to prove that the cleaning process is working. You don’t even kill fish or eat them in the game, you just take pictures of them and throw them back into the water. It’s a plot that will most certainly appeal to Captain Planet enthusiasts.


As the Guns n’ Roses have said, all you need is just a little patience.

The Persona-inspired character portraits and menu layouts didn’t impact the game as much as expected. Everything is very static. With the exception of the fishing sections, everything is presented in static cutscenes, with no animations or spoken dialogue whatsoever. At the very least, there is a neat jazz soundtrack being played in these long and uninteresting sections.

Finally, let’s talk about the fishing mechanics. They’re fine. It’s all about properly aiming at the pond, waiting for the fish to bite the bait, and then managing your line strength and stamina until you catch it. The controls are responsive enough and the gameplay is simple and self-explanatory, but I feel like there’s more than could have been done with it.

Weirdly enough, I feel like this would have been a perfect game to feature motion-based controls, had Natsume decided to market Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure as a Switch exclusive. Being able to properly tilt your fishing rod with motion controls would have been a neat feature, but sadly, we’re stuck with normal controls, as this is also available on PS4 and PC.

With that being said, is the overall gameplay loop engaging? It certainly is better than I could have expected from a game like this, but it gets boring very quickly. The day cycles are ridiculously short, meaning that, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll catch two fish in a day. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to catch a fish big enough to let you advance through the plot. Fishing is all about waiting and being patient, but the game itself is as patient as a hyperactive kid stuck on a fishing boat with his father on a Saturday morning.


Whoever localized this game must have had a lot of fun.

I need to give Natsume credit. They really tried to spice things up a bit in Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure with its anime-ish cast of characters and light RPG mechanics. Both managed to engage me in a fishing game more than I could have ever expected, but at the end of the day, well, this is still a fishing game. There’s just so much you can do in a game like this, and as a result, Road Trip Adventure gets quite boring after a while. With that being said, that’s probably the first time I’ve had some moderate kind of fun with anything related to fishing in a videogame ever since Ocarina of Time, so I need to congratulate the developers on achieving that.


Graphics: 6.5

The game makes up for its repetitive and stale fishing-related visuals with some charming Persona-esque characters.

Gameplay: 6.5

While the fishing mechanics are simple to understand and responsive enough, and the RPG mechanics try to spice the gameplay up a little bit, the overall gameplay loop is a bit shallow, and it’s hindered by an incredibly short day cycle. The lack of motion controls is also a bummer, as the joycon would have worked perfectly in here.

Sound: 7.5

Although the fishing sections are obviously devoid of any background music, the menu and cutscenes feature some really well-composed jazz tunes.

Fun Factor: 5.5

There’s just so much you can do in a fishing game to make it more interesting and engaging. This game tries its best with friendly characters and light RPG mechanics, but it gets stale pretty quickly.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure is available now on PS4, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure was provided by the publisher.