A Fisherman’s Tale is a little short but deeply immersive mind-bending puzzle game that has you second-guessing your actions.
A Fisherman’s Tale is a puzzle adventure game that places you in a world that’s turned upside down and inside out, as you explore the small confines of a stormy hilltop lighthouse and also what lies outside of it.
You play as Bob, a small bearded fisherman puppet, with strings attached to both of your arms, a floating torso dressed in a yellow fisherman’s coat and a red sea-faring hat on his head. You are all alone in this tiny cabin that’s attached to the side of the hilltop lighthouse. A storm is brewing outside, and as the radio in the cabin broadcasts a threatening storm alert, your goal is to get to the top of the lighthouse and turn on the light to warn nearby ships that may be caught in the storm.
Of course, this is a videogame, so nothing is a sample as climbing a flight of stairs to the top of the lighthouse. You’ll find doors in the cabin are blocked or locked, cupboards are missing their handles and water pipes have missing parts that allow them to function, and this is just the start. Various creatures in the cabin begin to talk to you, and you soon begin to interact with them and the various objects scattered around the bigger (or smaller) world around you.
Keeping Bob busy during his ‘alone time’ in the cabin is a scale model of the lighthouse that he is taking shelter from the storm. Early on in the game, you are asked to take off the roof of the model lighthouse, and as you do so, the entire roof above you also lifts off, revealing your much bigger puppet self outside. It’s here that you soon realise you are seeing a smaller version yourself inside the scale model below you, as well as your bigger self above you. It’s a mind-bending scenario to be in, and what follows are some incredible gameplay experiences.
Your actions are mirrored in the scaled model of yourself as well as the bigger version in the world outside too. Because you can pick up anything in your world as well as in the scale world, you can begin to bring objects to and from each of the current and scale model worlds. For example, picking up a huge anchor that’s blocking the door may be a challenge in your world, but pick up the same tiny anchor in the model world is much easier to accomplish.
Completing the puzzles you face requires you to cross between both worlds and this type of gameplay and its mechanics feel fresh and compelling to experience. I loved the winch mechanic and it took me a few seconds to choose which world I should focus my attention on in order to pick up, move and drop the various objects between each of the current and bigger worlds.
Graphically, the world around you has been well crafted and designed. It has a graphical aesthetic that’s similar to the game Firewatch, which is no bad thing. The world around you has been wonderfully created to make you feel part of both outside and model worlds. Looking above you, you get to see your bigger self mirroring your every move and interactions. It’s almost awe-inspiring to watch.
The game’s audio and voice acting have also been well executed. There are some fun and humorous voice acting from the various sidekicks that help you on your quest to the top of the lighthouse. The game’s narration is also warm and welcoming.
For the asking price of £10.99 from the Oculus Store, A Fisherman’s Tale sadly runs a little shorter than I had hoped. I managed to complete the game in just over an hour. Without anything else to do, other than to replay through the game again, there is little reason to return to the game once completed. With this in mind, I would recommend turning the hints option off if you want to lengthen your time and experience in the game.
A Fisherman’s Tale recently won Game of the Year at this year’s VR Awards, for me though, there are already a number of VR titles on the Oculus Quest that will overshadow this title as my GOTY, however, I did have a lot of fun getting lost in this game. If you’re happy to pay the entry fee to experience this little gem of a game, I am certain you will not be disappointed with the whole experience.