VR is still a strange and budding medium, one that seems to invite experiences instead of games. Last year started to really change things with games like Beat Saber, Tetris Effect, and Astro Bot all feeling like must play experiences, rather than cute gimmicks. It seems that VR is hitting its stride, and really starting to deliver on some of the things it is capable of.
A Fisherman’s Tale is a puzzle game that makes the most of VR by being completely immersive, and impossibly wonderful as a result. You play Bob – a tiny puppet fisherman who lives in a lighthouse and passes the time by making small models of everything around him. This isn’t your first task though.
The game introduces itself to you by asking you to brush your teeth. It seems odd, but it sets a tone that holds up throughout the rest of the game. This game is whimsical, it’s charming, it is like a fairy tale that you get to take part in. Even the controls replicate this feeling.
Movement is done via teleportation, which isn’t that unusual, but it’s how you control your hands that makes things interesting. Rather than simply bending down to pick something up off the floor you extend your hands – shooting them out like Rayman. It makes everything so much more convenient and every puzzle more palatable.
Every section of the game will challenge you to the utmost. The puzzles are unlike anything else you can play because you are surrounded by them, this is honestly one of the most immersive VR games about and you can expect a few moments of utter bewilderment because of the mind-bending puzzles. It’s all based around the idea of recursions, with you exploring a lighthouse within a lighthouse within a lighthouse, recursing infinitely in either direction. You have a tiny little model lighthouse with which to interact, where everything you touch and pick up is then affected in the environment around you. It’s a wonderfully trippy effect and makes for some delightful puzzles and moments of realisation.
The story beats are both touching and incredibly well done, thanks in part to the heavily accented narrator. You feel a huge amount of empathy for your little puppet, the kind you won’t have felt for a puppet since Pinocchio. His plights and reactions are all so natural, so incredibly endearing. You just find yourself completely in love with the world that he inhabits and the things he does to overcome the challenges ahead of him.
It is a shame then, that the experience is so short. It will only take a couple of hours to get through in its entirety. The joy of the game is somewhat counterbalanced by the fact that you feel like you’re only just starting your journey before it ends. It is a real shame there isn’t more to it.
A Fisherman’s Tale succeeds in being one of the most interesting games on VR. It is charming, magical, and awe-inspiring. It manages to do all of this with you playing as a puppet, and feeling a huge amount of warmth towards that little puppet. It is just a shame that the playtime is so short, even just an extra couple of hours would have made this impossible to miss. As it stands, it is a wonderful game that deserves playing, but the play time is such a drawback to an otherwise impeccable game.
Version tested: Oculus Rift – Also available for PSVR, HTC Vive