When an email crossed my inbox to notify me about a fishing game on Steam that was receiving Vive support — including motion controllers — I got pretty excited. I’m far from a professional fisherman and have in fact not gone fishing in over a year, but it’s something I always enjoy in video games. Fishing in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of my favorite non-essential moments of the entire Zelda franchise, for example.
So as someone that writes about VR games every day now, imagine my shock and surprise when I noticed the palpable lack of love the genre has received thus far on the new immersive platforms. Sega Bass Fishing VR, where art thou? But fret not, because Ice Lakes has arrived.
For a game that wasn’t even designed with VR in mind originally, it comes as a bit of a surprise how well it translates over. You begin each map from a top-down bird’s eye view and can direct your character by pointing and clicking somewhere in the environment. Once you’re out on the ice, you can drill a hole with the press of the button, at which point the game switches to a first-person perspective.
From here your Vive controllers become a lot more useful. You can point to different objects like a scoop to clean out the water hole, your tackle box to switch lures and bait, or the rod on the ground to change the type of rod you’re using.
Pressing the trigger on one of the Vive wands will drop the jig into the water. You’ll have to physically move and probe it around to attract fish and once one starts to nibble, you can yank up on the controller to start reeling it in.
What I would have really liked to see is the ability to use my secondary controller to make a spinning motion, as if I was actually reeling the fish in. But alas, that is not the case here.
“We remade all the menus and UI system to work better with the VR, and especially with Vive and its controllers (Oculus is supported later.) The gameplay is also tweaked heavily towards the direction of VR, but still keeping the game playable without VR,” explained Lasse Liljedahl, CEO from Iceflake Studios, during an email interview with UploadVR. “The rod is controlled like a real fishing rod with some simple buttons on Vive controller. For gameplay reasons some things are controlled with the other controller like you would be using a mouse cursor, the UI is still made to work with VR.
“We ended up to do certain things automatically, because the equipment are so small that they are really hard to use, or they are needed to use so often (ie. slush skimmer) that it becomes tiresome for players to do that. In the next update we will add optional freedom for VR users, so that the drilling can be done manually and we add more interactivity to the fishing scene in general…There have been challenges to incorporate VR into an existing game and game mechanics, but so far the feedback has been excellent from the players and based on that feedback we will continue improving the VR side of things.”
There are tournaments to participate in, online multiplayer, tons of rods, bait, and jigs to unlock, and so much more. The gameplay is a nice start, but the unlockables and multiplayer are what will keep you coming back for more.
While Ice Lakes isn’t as deep of a dive as future VR fishing expeditions likely will be, it’s still an excellent dish to whet your appetite for the next big catch later down the line. You can download and play the game now, either in VR or outside of VR, from Steam for $14.99.