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Catch & Release Review

Extremely immersive and polished fishing adventure.

Reviewed by Chris P on 10th March 2019 on HTC Vive


From the moment the game started up, I was immediately wowed by it all. From the gorgeous scenery surrounding the beautiful tranquil lake I was on, to the wonderful ambient sounds of insects and birds all around, it was like a sudden soothing of all the senses, and I knew already that this game was going to be something special, which is exactly how it turned out.

You start off the game sat in a small wooden rowing boat containing all you need for an enjoyable day out on the lake, including refreshments of beer and sandwiches, a radio that lets you tune into different local stations, an ice box to store your fish in, and of course a rod and line and some bait to catch your fish with.

Fishing is instinctive and easy to get to grips with, being a simple case of putting the bait on the hook, and then casting out into the beautifully clear waters, where your float sits on the surface waiting to be pulled under by any of a variety of nice looking fish.

Once the fish bite, it's a fairly uncomplicated affair of not letting the line get too taut, so giving line out when the fish pulls, and then reeling him in as he tires, just like you would in real life. Pop him off the hook and straight into the cooler if he's big enough to sell, as every time you close the lid on a fish, your money earned goes up allowing you to purchase upgrades and items from the shop, including more refreshments and a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. The shop is accessed through a book contained on the boat, which is a handy little feature.

The graphics in this game are truly excellent, with a slightly cartoony look rather than something ultra realistic, which is fine and helps keep the frame rate silky smooth which it was all the way through on my relatively old system. The scenery was wonderful, and you couldn't ask for a more picturesque setting to be transported to, all in all helping to keep you incredibly immersed.

The rod and line felt great to handle and the line moved naturally, which again helped with the immersion, unlike some other games where the line has remained rigid and completely taken me out of the game on many occasions. Casting out was superbly done too, allowing you to be really precise with each cast, so you could get your bait out to exactly where you wanted to put it, such as close to a reed bed, or out near the middle of the tranquil lake.

Rowing was intuitive and enjoyable, simply grab the oars and off you go, which really added a new dimension to the game and a level of freedom I hadn't expected to feel. This allows you to completely explore the lake, parking your boat wherever takes your fancy, and it was a really wonderfully relaxing experience simply rowing around the lake for the first time, enjoying the sights and sounds that the game has to offer.

I probably spent almost 2 hours in the game on my first play session in order to compile this review, but I could have easily whiled away many more, as it just felt so peaceful and enjoyable being alone on the lake, doing something I enjoy, surrounded by beauty and the incredible ambient sounds, and I can honestly see myself spending way too much time in this game already.

One thing I think would really add to the ambience and realism is to see or hear the occasional fish jumping out of the water to catch one of the flying insects. This is something all fishermen like to see and get excited about, and was something I really missed whilst playing, and I am really hoping they can add this to the game, as it really would up the ambience another notch or two to incredible heights, but that really is my only negative, if you can call it that.

One small thing that may need looking at is the button press that initiates the tutorial at the beginning. For some reason I did not press the button long enough to move to the next step, which left me with a controller in my left hand in-game for a good half hour or so until I managed to sort it out. Perhaps they should change it to 'Press and hold' instead of just 'Press' on the instructions, which should cure any confusion. Apart from these two small things, and they are only minor issues after all, I found the game an absolute joy to play and hands down the best fishing experience I have had in any computer game. In fact it was one of my favourite experiences in any type of VR game thus far, and I rate it up there with some of the best experiences available today to play in VR.

Beautiful graphics, wonderful sound, and one of the most immersive VR games to date.

      Reviewed by Chris P on 10th March 2019 on HTC Vive

      8 out of 10

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