Imagine my surprise when I found out that A Fisherman’s Tale wasn’t just another virtual reality fishing game, but instead a surreal first-person puzzling adventure that sees you take on the role of a puppet-fisherman that’s trying to bring light to a lighthouse. It was certainly unexpected given the title of the game and the concept alone sounds a little peculiar on paper – truth be told, the game itself isn’t shy of oddities either. That doesn’t stop it from providing both an innovative and heart-warming experience though, with A Fisherman’s Tale standing out as one of the first must-own PlayStation VR titles of 2019.
A Fisherman’s Tale is a first-person puzzler that’s full to the brim with peculiar sights and well-designed enigmas to solve as you work your way towards the top of the lighthouse. I don’t really want to go into too much detail about the puzzles themselves, especially since uncovering and solving them is the best part of the experience, but you can take my word for it that they’re all fun to solve and carefully designed to encourage both logical thought and experimentation. Admittedly, you probably won’t find yourself particularly stumped at all during your journey, but that didn’t make each puzzle itself any less fun to solve.
Whilst I don’t want to spoil the puzzles themselves, I will mention A Fisherman’s Tale’s most unique gameplay hook: everything you do in the game is replicated by both a larger and smaller puppet that exist within their own versions of the game world. You can interact directly with the puppets too, with a small dollhouse like representation of the environment found in front of you where you can see the miniature puppet doing exactly the same things that you’re doing. Of course, that also means the bigger puppet around you will be copying your actions too, with your own environment essentially acting as HIS dollhouse.
It’s with these replicated actions that you solve most of the game’s puzzles. For example, if you drop a ‘normal’ sized item into the miniature environment in front of you, the bigger puppet will drop an even larger one into your world – sure, it might sound a little confusing, but it all makes sense in-game. You’re essentially passing yourself a variety of items and changing their sizes by utilising the dollhouse in front of you, and it makes for a really clever and unique mechanic that acts as the foundation for the game’s puzzles. It’s a lot of fun to toy around with too and makes for plenty of creative (and often silly) moments in-game.
You’re going to need two Move controllers to play A Fisherman’s Tale, with the player able to grab at just about any object in the environment. Movement itself is limited to only teleportation which is a bit of a shame, but in fairness the environments are small enough in size that it didn’t bother me too much. One thing I will recommend though is standing up when playing the game: I typically play most PlayStation VR titles sitting down, but there were plenty of instances in A Fisherman’s Tale where it was easier to reach out at objects or explore the game world when I had the flexibility to move the whole of my body. It’s not essential by any means and the game does cater for players who prefer sitting down, but it’s definitely the more accessible way to work through each puzzle.
One thing I really have to compliment is the game’s presentation, which felt top notch throughout in both its audio and visual design. The music and voice acting is absolutely on point with the fisherman’s voice proving to be soothing throughout, whilst the environmental design felt so comforting and homely that I simply didn’t want to leave the charming world. It all managed to look great in the PlayStation VR headset too and you’ll really feel like you’re in this bizarrely comforting lighthouse.
Whilst I’ve got a lot of praise for the game though, I’d be remiss not to mention some of the small flaws I encountered. One obvious one was the way that objects would get stuck in the environment, which is something that was more predominant when trying to bring larger versions of them into your world. Thankfully, items’ positions will reset after a fixed amount of time, but seeing them floating around in the walls of the environment could certainly be a little jarring at times. Actually picking up the items themselves can be a little clumsy at times too thanks to their positions, though this is only reserved for a handful of items in-game and isn’t a common occurrence.
Another sticking point of A Fisherman’s Tale that might put some players off purchasing is the game’s short length, with it easily beaten in under two hours. However, it’s definitely a case of quality over quantity, with the impressive presentation, the intricately designed puzzles, and the charming narrative binding the whole experience together into one impressive package. If anything, the length felt just right and ensured that no aspect of the game outstayed its welcome – it’s also priced at £11.99, which feels pretty fair given the effort that’s gone into making sure that A Fisherman’s Tale will be memorable for anyone who plays it.
Publisher: Vertigo Games
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift