Everyone has their own routine in the morning, you get up, brush your teeth, have a shower, get dressed, have your breakfast etc… But, what if you awaken one day and things are different, something seems out of place and stops you from completing your morning ritual? To most of us, this wouldn’t be an issue, but what if you were a puppet who has no purpose in life other than to follow this set routine, a small inconvenience for us would be a major event within this circumstance. This situation is the beginning of one of the best narrative stories I’ve experienced within VR, A Fisherman’s Tale.
Developed by Innerspace VR and published by Vertigo Games, A Fisherman’s Tale stands proudly alongside other strong narrative masterpieces we’ve seen on PSVR, games such as Red Matter, Blind, Torn, and The Invisible Hours. However, for a game to stand out and have an impact on you, it has to have it’s own ‘thing’ and I can honestly say that A Fisherman’s Tale certainly has a ‘thing’, one which will both impress you and leave you in awe upon first seeing how it works.
so, let’s find out why I can’t wait to put on my VR headset and play this game all over again from the beginning…
You are Bob, a puppet who lives within a tiny cabin which is attached to a lighthouse. As previously mentioned, every day you do the same routine – you wake up from your rocking chair, brush your teeth, fuel the fire, polish your long shell (not a euphemism), open the window and work on your tiny model lighthouse. This has been your routine for as long as you know it and you simply go with the motions every single day as you await the return of your father, a very proud and stubborn fisherman.
However, one day you awaken and find that the window has been boarded shut! Just who could have done that? You don’t recall your father coming back and doing such an event. As such, you arm yourself and rip down the boards which are blocking you from your precious sunlight, so that you can continue with your model creation. Little did poor Bob know that this single event would quite literally turn his world upside down with the rather unusual turn of events which are about to occur.
You see, Once the window was open, Bob didn’t see the sun, he saw a gigantic version of himself with his back to him. Upon moving his own limbs, this giant also mirrored everything you did. It isn’t long before you rip off the roof of your tiny lighthouse and see that there resides a tiny version of you in there, who is also mimicking everything you do. This is one of the most ingenious and clever gaming mechanics I’ve seen in a while. Working with multiple versions of yourself, you must find a way to the top of the lighthouse to activate the signal and save a poor sailor from meeting his doom…
As above, so below
The core gameplay mechanic in A Fisherman’s Tale is so creative and fantastical, it really does leave an amazing impact on you upon using it to solve the puzzles you’ll come across. As I mentioned, within your room, if you look up then you can see your bigger version of you mimicking yourself, and if you look below then the other you is also mimicking your actions. This means, for example, if you pick up an object in your ‘normal sized’ room and then drop it into the tiny model you created, the bigger version of you drops an enlarged version into your world.
There are some puzzles which utilise this feature to create a very unique puzzle game. For example, later on, you’ll find a tiny pipe, but you need it to be bigger – so dropping it into the model means the guy above drops a bigger version for you to use. This also works the other way – you can interact with the smaller model to retrieve smaller versions of items in your world, say for example if a certain request is for a much smaller edition of an item you’re holding. It all works seamlessly and the whole concept is so cool.
I won’t go into too much detail, as it’s only a short game, but believe me when I say that A Fisherman’s Tale is a game which everyone who owns a PSVR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Windows Mixed Reality headset should play – not just for the amazing and imaginative mechanics, but also the story as it’s very sweet and touching at times.
One of the things which a game has to get 100% correct within VR is its controls, a great game can be severely knocked down if it controls like ass. A Fisherman’s Tale was a dream to take control of! You must use two move controllers, no DS4 here, which operate as your two hands. There’s no crouch button but you can extend your arms, as you’re a puppet, in order to grab things out of reach or that you drop. Everything just works really well – from picking up tiny objects to operating switches to raise and lower a crane – I had no tracking issues at all.
In terms of movement, as I know a lot of people will ask this, the rotation is done in snap turning and moving is teleportation. There are no options for free movement or smooth turning. To be honest though, you’re always in very small rooms or areas, so you don’t really need to be able to move around freely in my opinion.
Another key feature, which a lot of VR games rather stupidly don’t include, is that all items return to their original position after a minute of being somewhere it shouldn’t be. Now, it’s not quite as good as Blind, which has an option in the menu to return all key items back to their original location, but it’s better than nothing! This feature is essential in this game as I had quite a few items not behave for me – I had an item vanish inside of the toy lighthouse at the beginning, one fell through the floor, one sank into the boat floor instead of the place it was meant for, and the boat itself slipped out of my hand as I threw it incorrectly down to the ground (from the top of the lighthouse). So, if that happens to you, just wait where the item originally was and it’ll come back.
Visually, A Fisherman’s Tale looks amazing. Once you don your PSVR headset, you’ll forget that you’re playing a video game as the visual quality is really good. I’m playing on the PS4 Pro but I don’t know if there are any Pro enhancements to the AA or resolution. VR games are looking really good on PSVR these days, you may get the odd one here or there which isn’t up to par with other games, but the majority of them are a lot better than they were on launch. I don’t know what it is, but seeing your reflection in the in-game mirror as you, a puppet, is such a surreal and fantastical moment – for the 90 minutes I played, I WAS Bob the fisherman puppet!
Soundwise I personally can’t falter anything. the music is well suited and fits the game perfectly, the voice actor does a great job on both the radio and the narrator, and the general sound effects are all great. If you’re also interested, it has English, French and German vocals within the game. The game also has a hint option, this means the narrator will give you vocal hints on what to do next if the game thinks you’re stuck or need a push to progress the story. Thankfully these can be turned off if you wish to figure out what to do next by yourself. I’d advise playing it without the hints as some of them are almost “here’s the answer” and it takes the fun out of figuring things out.
On a negative note – there are no subtitles within the game (even though the store page says it has them), so those who are hard of hearing or deaf won’t be able to fully experience the game.
A Fisherman’s Tale is one of the most imaginative and surreal narrative experiences on PlayStation VR. From the moment you put on your headset, you’ll be ‘hooked’ as you become fully ‘submerged’ within this fantastical and dream-like experience. The ‘as above, so below’ mechanic works seamlessly and turns a simple puzzle game into one which stands out above the crowd with its unique and interesting concept.
The game itself isn’t very long, clocking in at around an hour from beginning to end, but if you wish to get the platinum then expect that time to be a bit longer as you backtrack for collectables and random trophies. If you like imaginative and thought-provoking puzzles, coupled with an interesting story and bizarre characters, then A Fisherman’s Tale is pulling on your line waiting to be reeled in today!
A Fisherman’s Tale£11.99
- - Creative, Imaginative, Surreal, and an awesome way of solving puzzles
- - Really moving and funny narrative which is delivered perfectly with the voice actors
- - Motion tracking and general interaction works perfectly
- - Lots of collectables and random trophies to figure out
- - Visually looks really good in VR
- - No subtitles
- - If not worried about trophies, the game is only about an hour long
- - Some people may not like the fact you only have snap turn and teleport as an option