A Fisherman’s Tale was one of the standout VR games I played back in 2019 – a beautifully crafted puzzle adventure that dealt with scale and perspective as well as having something to say about the pressures of expectation and the challenges of isolation. It was as lighthearted as it was heartwarming, and exactly the type of game that made you want more when the tale finished. Now we have more as Innerspace VR have just released Another Fisherman’s Tale, though rather than regurgitate what came before they’ve taken a slightly different route… albeit a tad more mind-bending. Will the change in direction bring a bigger haul, or is it likely to fail to snag a catch?
Bob is back, and our favourite French accented angler is on the hunt for treasure and is definitely NOT trying to be a pirate. Stranded on a desert island after being caught out by a storm, Bob needs to find a way to get back on track, mainly by putting himself back together. See, through some unsaid quirk of fate, Bob’s head and hands are now detachable and that’s exactly what he needs in order to make his way around. Using his cunning and ingenuity he’s able to make his way to a vantage point, only to discover that real pirates are also on the island and he quickly gets captured. Thus begins the story and the discovery that you’re not actually playing as Bob, but someone else who’s recounting his adventures using dioramas which they’re meant to be clearing away. It’s a lovely conceit that plays with the “lighthouse within a lighthouse” theme of the first game, yet allows the developers to really stretch their legs on twisting perspectives.
Another Fisherman’s Tale place across several different miniature models, each used to cover a distinct section of the overall story, and all built on the base premise of having ambulatory limbs. Bob can throw his head into static locations to view the environment, and still move his body around to access whatever he needs to. Additionally, both Bob’s hands can be independently shot off and then controlled to run about Addams Family Thing-style, meaning there’s the ability to scamper along narrow ledges, up pipes and into tiny gaps. Movement is controlled by the relevant left or right Sense controller and is based on gyration rather than stick movement – you have to physically rotate your wrists to go in the direction you want. Bear in mind that each time you do this you’re keeping your viewpoint static so it’s akin to old school fixed perspective 3D games and you have to mentally prepare yourself for that. Then layer on controlling two hands potentially doing very different things, and a head that needs to pop off to somewhere else, and it’s not long before it all gets really disorienting… in a good way.
Bob’s hands don’t only roam around freely, they can be swapped for different tools like hooks for climbing or claws for cutting; and this is essential for solving the various environmental puzzles you’re usually walking through. There’s always an option to swap between “hands” with whatever tool is needed lying around, and the blend of sending them off, gripping and pulling objects back in is pretty satisfying when you get the knack of it. It’s intuitive despite it sounding odd, and it’s only when looking at the situation from a strange angle do you have to remember what’s left, right, up and down. As with most VR games there’s little in the way of a HUD, relying mainly on what you know Bob can do, and as you explore you begin to spot the visual clues that point to answers. Whilst nothing is overly taxing – Another Fisherman’s Tale is really about the adventure rather than the challenge – there is a nice hint system that puts ghost visuals up in key places as a clue if you find yourself getting too stuck.
Visually it’s all a treat with the bold and colourful worlds realised well in the VR space. The fantasy places are punctuated with great details and have a feel of being intricate models, and the real world does a wonderful job of grounding you, especially as each of the dioramas are a worth a reinspection after visiting the level to see how they eventually come together and trace out where you’ve just explored. Being accompanied by the ongoing voiceover adds a layer to the events too that ties in a story of discovery, fear and responsibility, and depending on your life stage when you play you may find this more emotional than you’d expect. There’s a sweetness to Another Fisherman’s Tale that doesn’t shy away from the sadder moments it’s contemplating, and that enhances the feelings it evokes more. I’ll not lie, it all got a bit teary towards the end as the story beats hit close to home.
There’s maybe less of a revelation in the gameplay with Another Fisherman’s Tale than the first game, though arguably that’s because I was now expecting something a little leftfield. That’s certainly there, and just as delightful at times in the playful way it goes about making you try something new. Describing itself as poetic and captivating is certainly appropriate and probably is about the only way it can be summed up – the beautifully melancholic atmosphere that builds is a rare commodity in gaming. It’s a terrific game that delights consistently throughout, even when you’re battling your own sense of direction and co-ordination ability. Simply a must for VR owners who want story and substance.
A PSVR2 review copy of Another Fisherman’s Tale was provided by Innerspace VR’s PR team, and the game is available now on PC and PSVR2.
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