Co-produced by Innerspace and ARTE and published by Vertigo Games, A Fisherman’s Tale is now out on several VR-enabled platforms. We explored this unique narrative-driven puzzler on Playstation VR – here’s the review.
At every Gamescom, we always make sure we stop by the Indie Arena Booth, where a bunch of possible indie gems always turn up. Last year’s edition was no exception, and it gave us a sample of A Fisherman’s Tale, which at that moment in time had JUST been signed and announced by Vertigo. They weren’t the only ones who saw the game’s potential, because we also came away thinking we had just played a hands-on demo of something quite unique.
A Fisherman’s Tale has a main draw that is as unique as it is perfectly tailored to virtual reality gaming. In VR, one of the most convincing effects is seeing things depicted to scale. It’s scary going into a creepy house – it’s way scarier to stand on its doorstep and have a giant creepy house loom over you. In Innerspace’s puzzler, this is used to great effect. You play as a fisherman who controls a puppet version of himself inside a series of scenes – and you view the action from the perspective of the puppet.
Inside every scene, there is also a miniature version of that exact scene that you can interact with – imagine a dollhouse representation of your actual house and you’re halfway there. So when you look up (or out a window) you’ll see the real life (and giant) version of you, and gaze into the dollhouse and you’ll see the even smaller representation of yourself.
This may seem like just a neat visual gimmick at first, but it also plays an important part in the gameplay as you find that all three levels of scale are connected. That sounds vague, so I’ll illustrate with an example. Suppose you’re in need of a life preserver, but you can only find a tiny toy model version of one in the room. Pick it up, drop it inside the miniature house, and suddenly a full sized version emerges in your own version of the scene. It’s a clever mechanic, and the key to how A Fisherman’s Tale progresses.
It doesn’t progress for too long though – the puzzles aren’t that tricky once you grasp the base concept and how it can be used to manipulate each scene, and as long as you don’t get too stuck the entire adventure can be over in under two hours. The tale is narrated as well, and the narrator will provide hints if you appear to be stuck on a certain puzzle (a feature that can also be disabled). The narrative works towards the ultimate goal of “lighting the lighthouse”, so the story is rather casual in how it plays out – making for a delightful yet short experience.
What takes away some of the sense of wonder are the occasionally glitchy controls though, with objects that are sometimes hard to grab or keep hold off. They’ll reappear if you drop them, but it can be a little frustrating nonetheless. I remember this being somewhat of an issue during the demo as well, but it’s sad to see it wasn’t fully ironed out for the final release You eventually try to find ways to work around possible issues, but it does take away from the experience a little.
In the end, combined with the short length, that makes A Fisherman’s Tale a delightful but flawed experience, but well worth the time for VR puzzle fans.