A Fisherman’s Tale Review | Playing as a tiny fisherman puppet, you live alone in your tiny cabin, oblivious to the world outside. When your radio broadcasts a storm alert, you have to climb the lighthouse to turn on the light! As you leave your cabin with the help of some uncanny sidekicks, you realize what’s waiting outside is not at all what you expected…
Developer: Innerspace VR
Date Played: December 2021
Number of Players: 1
Time Taken: 2 hours
In my day job, talking about VR comes up a lot. Big words like “the metaverse” are thrown around, but really what people want to know is what is VR and what kind of thing can you do with it. When these conversations come up, there’s one game I return to over and over again.
“If you want to see what VR can do, play the puzzle game A Fisherman’s Tale”
It’s a phrase I say a lot when talking about video games versus real life brick and mortar escape rooms, but Fisherman’s Tale is a fantastic example of something that simply would not be possible in any other medium. You shrink down and look up at a giant version of yourself in an infinite tessellation of wooden fishermen solving puzzles in synchronised movements. And let me tell you: It… Is… Wild!
Tiny Fisherman Lighthouse Inception
A Fisherman’s Tale is a classic escape room game. You’re quite literally, in a room. Your goal is quite simply to escape. Beyond this, the rest is purely details. But oh what delicious details they are!
The game begins with a lighthouse keeper who wakes up every day and does the same thing. He brushes his teeth, washes his face, and then he sits down at his desk and carves a tiny wooden version of himself and puts it in a tiny wooden version of the lighthouse. That tiny wooden lighthouse keeper wakes up, brushes his teeth, washes his face, and then he sits down at his desk and carves a tiny wooden version of himself.
It’s like Inception, but better.
The whole game’s mechanics from that moment onward centre around the central premise that whatever action you’re doing in your lighthouse, there is a tiny model in the middle of the lighthouse with a model fisherman doing the exact same thing. And, if you look outside your window, there is a giant model version of yourself performing the same actions.
The puzzles are therefore solved with some clever thinking outside of the box. If an object is too small, hand it to your tiny doppelganger, and your giant self will hand it to you. Need water? Flood your model and your own room will become flooded, and so on.
Reality is bended, and to be honest, so is my mind as I play.
Small Actions, Big Consequences
But what’s the hurry little fisherman? Well, there’s a ship stuck in the storm outside and if you don’t get your lighthouse lit in time it could crash into the waves. But what can you do as a tiny wooden lighthouse keeper? Well, you’ll find out just how powerful your small actions can be!
The puzzles in A Fisherman’s Tale were just delightful and the whole experience was made all the better for existing in virtual reality. You have the ability to walk around your space, open cupboards, unlock boxes, and hand things back and forth to the infinite versions of yourself. For the 4 hours you play, you forget it’s a game (until your hip bumps into the edge of a table in real life – OW!).
Like a lot of video games and unlike a lot of escape rooms, although the goal is to escape the puzzles are quite search-and-find. In VR this is a lot of fun and works well, but ultimately you’re rushing around and looking for the correct equipment to achieve your goal. Whether that be opening a can of tuna, building a boat, or reaching a high up shelf.
It Feels Like A Modern Fairy Tale
My favourite thing about A Fisherman’s Tale are the vibes. Or, in common English, the atmosphere and general feeling. There’s something about the game that is so indescribably magical and engrossing, like you’re the main character of your own whimsical fairy tale.
The whole game is a beautifully coloured cell-shaded experience. This is both to be comfortable in VR and to look ‘wooden’ – you are after all made of wood. Each level in the game is structured like a chapter – Chapter 1, the beginning and so on through to beginning, middle and end. Along the way you meet other characters and you even made friends with the gentle, French voice over narrator of the story.
Despite my gushing about the game, A Fisherman’s Tale has one major problem. A huge huge problem…
It’s not long enough.
At around 3, maybe 4 hours if you take your time, it’s over all too quickly. I could happily play this game for months and emerge with a scraggly beard down to my ankles having not encountered a real human being in a lifetime and still be beaming with happiness.
The company is rightfully named “Vertigo” and that’s a little of the feeling you get playing the game. Looking down upon a tiny version of yourself who is also looking down on an even tinier version of himself is a wild feeling. It’s like falling, but falling over and over into a world you very much want to be in.
Once the novelty of sticking your giant head through the roof of your own cabin wears off, what’s left is a beautiful and whimsical tale of a little fisherman in his lighthouse trying to save a bot stuck at sea. I cried, I laughed, and I regret it ending too soon.
A Fisherman’s Tale can be purchased on the Oculus shop here.
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