You know how when you hold up one mirror in front of another one you can see yourself reflected into infinity? Well, A Fisherman’s Tale is a bit like that but with added Sou’westers, puppets and talking crustaceans.
This odd but charming mixture of narrative adventure and physics puzzler does its best to entertain and there are some lovely moments in here that demonstrate the wondrous possibilities of VR. Sadly the incredibly short run time means that A Fisherman’s Tale’s inventive and original premise ends up feeling rather underdeveloped. There’s a potential for greatness here but it’s not quite reached and instead of thinking “Wow, that was great!”, when I finished the game, it was more a case of, “Wow, was that it?!”.
If you’d like to see the game in action, you can catch a glimpse of me playing the first two levels of A Fisherman’s Tale in this week’s episode of Ian’s VR Corner. Oh, and if you don’t get the little visual gag and song at the start, congratulations, you’re not old!
A Fisherman’s Tale casts you as a puppet, a replica of a real-life fisherman that lives inside a scale model of a lighthouse. On a table inside this lighthouse is a replica model of your own lighthouse, which you soon find out is home to a smaller version of you. Your lighthouse also exists on a table in a larger model of the lighthouse and that replica is also home to an equally large version of your fisherman, and so on and so on.
Confused yet? Well you should be because this is where the reality-breaking puzzle elements come into play.
Lift the roof off of the model lighthouse in your reality and the first thing you’ll notice is the roof above you being torn off too, revealing the giant version of yourself towering over you. Stick your finger into the model below you and wiggle it about in front of the tiny fisherman’s face and a giant finger will appear from above and tickle your own nose. Every action you take in your reality is mirrored in the replications above and below you and by passing items back and forth between them, you can increase or decrease their size in order to unlock ways to proceed up the lighthouse tower.
The press release for A Fisherman’s Tale makes this sound way more complex and exciting than it actually is though. “You will work with infinite, ever smaller and bigger replications of yourself to find your way out of a world where physics are utterly broken”, it states. This is an over-exaggeration though. You’ll never go more than one layer above or below yourself so the potential for interacting with infinite versions of your character just never truly materialises.
That said, there’s still plenty of room for some classic moments of jaw-dropping magic that only VR can provide. In one such moment, which you can witness in the video above, I held a small shell above the smaller me’s head. This allowed me to reach up and snatch a full sized key out of the gigantic shell that hung above me.
Solving puzzles like this is incredibly satisfying but I found the fun to be hampered by the games incredibly tight locations. The cramped quarters of the lighthouse meant that I was often clipping through the scenery, a problem that’s exasperated when held items also clip into the walls and suddenly vanish without a trace. These items do reappear after a short period of time but the regularity with which this kind of thing occurred made the proceedings much more fiddly and frustrating than they needed to be.
The slow paced gameplay in A Fisherman’s Tale means that newcomers and VR veterans alike will feel comfortable. Blink turn and teleport are the only movement schemes available though, so it can feel sluggish to those who are used to free movement. Controls are limited to dual Move Controllers only on PSVR but this is an inevitable outcome for a game where picking up and interacting with objects is a necessity.
In the grand scheme of things, A Fisherman’s Tale feels like an extended tech demo rather than a full game. There’s scope here for a mind-blowing Portal-esq experience that really tests your perception of reality but with a run time of only two hours it never expands on the idea in a satisfying way. If you’re in the market for a short, sweet puzzler that makes inventive use of the extra dimensions that VR allows, A Fisherman’s Tale should scratch that itch. Unfortunately, in terms of gameplay, it’s a tiddler rather than the monster catch I was hoping for.
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian’s VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I get silly with Kona VR, Salary Man Escape, The Exorcist: Legion VR, Killing Floor: Incursion, The Persistence, Detached, Pixel Ripped 1989, Rec Royale, Arizona Sunshine, Transference, Zone of The Enders 2, Downward Spiral: Horus Station, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Evasion, Free-roam Zombie Survival, Home Sweet Home, Paper Dolls, Legends Of Catalonia: The Land Of Barcelona, Beat Saber, Arca’s Path VR, Gungrave VR,Borderlands 2 VR and Ace Combat 7.