Fishing in VR would be great, wouldn't it? While fishing video games have been around for decades, there’s a spirit to the sport that only VR could truly capture. Lounging around in a little wooden fishing boat and basking in nature while waiting for your next catch to nibble at your line would be made that much more relaxing when you’re completely immersed in your surroundings. A Fisherman’s Tale is certainly immersive, but it almost couldn’t have less to do with the act of fishing - you don’t touch a single fishing pole in its entire runtime. It’s instead yet another VR puzzler that still manages to delight courtesy of its quippy charm, neat gimmick, and effective setpieces that don’t overstay their welcome.
You spend your time in the game as a puppet that’s trying to light the lighthouse atop the fisherman’s shack he inhabits. It’s a first-person puzzler that requires you to interact with the environment and find certain items to progress. Thankfully, it does have its own little unique twist to freshen things up: your actions are duplicated by both a giant and miniature version of yourself. Your puppet character has a little replica dollhouse in which everything is accounted for (including yourself) while the same goes for everything outside your shack - only on the outside everything is enormous instead of fun-sized. It’s a unique set of perspectives that requires some outside-the-box thinking and makes creative use of the PSVR’s scale-depicting capabilities.
Everything controls well enough to successfully execute what you intend to -- most of the time. Move controllers are required here since you need complete control of both the puppet’s hands to grab and combine various objects in your shanty, and the wands work effectively enough when they’re kept within tracking distance. To make up for PSVR’s lack of a room-scale setup, there’s a button that extends your hands a few feet in front of you which allows you to still grab those distant objects without having to leave your seat or lean too far in any one direction. It’s a smart way to accommodate multiple VR configurations, but it can be a bit cumbersome in certain instances. Having to remember that your arm is currently invisible because it’s extended and has to be reeled back in can cause some unneeded frustration in a game that’s otherwise incredibly straightforward.
Some of the puzzles will require a bit more thought, but each of the game’s challenges don’t take much effort to overcome once you acclimate yourself to its logic. The teleport-based movement works well and helps to mitigate any potential motion sickness while also allowing for free mobility. Other than a couple of collision detection issues, everything functions the way it’s supposed to and works as intended in its small-scale environments.
What helps keep A Fisherman’s Tale interesting amid its par for the course puzzle-solving antics is its cutesy charm. The simple visual style works incredibly well, and everything is narrated and voiced by a Frenchman that was clearly enjoying himself in the recording booth. His smooth and high-browed delivery gels extremely well with the game’s aesthetics, and it makes the overall experience that much more enjoyable. There are a couple of crazy characters you’ll encounter along the way that easily amuse, but the narrator persists throughout the whole playthrough and never quite ventures into annoying territory. He’ll give you hints that will repeat often if you’re taking a long time on any particular puzzle, but they’re easily disabled if you only want to hear the new stuff that comes next.
This tale’s main weakness is its length -- it’s a bit too short. It’ll only take a couple of hours tops to get through the game’s handful of bite-sized chapters, and that’s if you’re taking your time or getting stuck. The shorter length means you won’t get particularly sick of any one part of it, but it also means that so little of the experience is given a chance to breathe. New characters and mechanics are introduced just as soon as they’re discarded for the next chapter. The novel multi-dimensional premise allows for some neat puzzle solving, but it never quite realises its full potential. There are collectable pearls and little easter eggs hidden within each chapter, but they’re hardly enough to warrant an entire second playthrough. It’s still a tightly focused experience that doesn’t waste its time with filler or uninteresting puzzles, but it was a bit quick to throw in the towel before it had a chance to really play with the universe it established.
A Fisherman’s Tale is a typical puzzle-solving first-person VR experience that stands a cut above with a good-quality gimmick that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It barely stays long enough to finish saying hello, but it has the wit, charm, and novelty to make it worth the single sitting it’s asking for.