I’m not a fisherman, but fishing games feel like a perfect fit for VR. Despite my lack of prowess on the waters (I’ve caught my fair share of fish in my day, and even watched my uncle clean and cook them the same day) I enjoy a good fishing game. The Legend of Zelda series is well-known for having addictive fishing mini-games in several of its most popular entries (Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening, Twilight Princess) and spent a lot of time playing Sega Bass Fishing on Sega Dreamcast. Despite all of that, there hasn’t really been a high-quality fishing game that really reels me in, so I had hopes that Fishing Master from Snowball Games would be that game.
But unfortunately, it was not.
Fishing Master has the shell of what could be a good game, but fails to deliver on most fronts. For starters, the tutorial at the very beginning and all in-game communication with NPCs via letters and other on-screen messages are riddled with distracting spelling errors. And I don’t mean the occasional extra letter or missing word, but to the point that it’s often difficult to discern what the developers even intended to communicate. It’s in desperate need of better localization.
At the end of the day fishing Master boils down to you visiting a variety of different locales, catching a bunch of fish, then moving on to the next area. You can upgrade your rod, line, lure, and other gear at an in-game shop and from rewards you receive for completing missions. That’s pretty much the entire game.
At each locale you use the PS Move controller in your right hand to throw out your line by holding the trigger then releasing at the peak of your flick — just like with an actual rod. Then you sit and wait for a fish to bite, pull the rod in the specified direction to hook the fish, and then yank it back and forth against the fish’s attempts to escape. Once it’s tired out you start to reel it in until you catch it or it regains energy to pull again. Rinse, repeat.
It’s a solid core gameplay loop that was fun for the first few locales since some fish are more aggressive than others and it does a good job of emulating the feeling of fishing, but the limitations of the game start to appear once you dig deeper. For example, you can’t really even choose where you cast your line and it doesn’t matter how far or how hard you fling it because it lands in basically the same spot every time and placement has zero affect on the fish you catch. You can’t move the boat around, you can’t use a sonar to search for fish, or anything at all. You just cast, reel, and repeat over and over with different backgrounds.
The backgrounds look better than expected at least — especially the first two (San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge and Lake Geneva in Sweden, both shown above — but ultimately that’s all they are: backgrounds. The progression systems feels tacked on and meaningless because by the time you need to switch or upgrade gear you’ve likely already gotten some as a reward or have plenty of money to buy what you need.
On top of it all the only way I could find to return to my boat’s cabin and leave the location I’m at is to turn all the way around behind me and click an icon. That’s not a problem on roomscale headsets like the Rift or Vive, but turning around and pointing behind me with a PSVR and PS Move controller is far from accurate or simple to do.
Despite my hopes for an adequate fishing simulator on PSVR, Fishing Master can only be categorized as disappointing. There isn’t enough compelling content to keep you coming back and what’s there feels a bit unfinished and unpolished. As silly as it sounds, you’re better off just waiting for Final Fantasy XV’s Monsters of the Deep fishing spin-off.