I seem to recall while growing up that I went fishing with my father a total of one time. I was fairly young and I have been told that I caught a bigger fish than he did which led to the joke that this was the reason that he never took me again. I believe however that it’s more likely that he came to the realization that while he might have enjoyed outdoor activities, it just wasn’t something that I was terribly interested in. Fishing, hunting and sports just weren’t to my liking. Instead I was more involved with reading, playing music, and of course video games. My distaste for something such as fishing hasn’t ever kept me away from games.
The PlayStation 4 has seen a few different fishing titles since its released but with the PSVR now being something that developers have access to, fishing is going into a virtual realm. That’s where Fishing Master comes into play. If the title wasn’t a big enough clue, Fishing Master puts you in the role of an aspiring fisherman. After learning the basics you’ll be on your own and visiting locations such as Lake Geneva, the San Francisco Bay, and even the Arctic. You’ll be given requests to fulfill, gear to buy and even a tournament to participate in as you attempt to obtain the goal of becoming a true Fishing Master.
As with just about every game that falls into the sub-genre of virtual sports fishing, the main goal is of course to fish. This game also isn’t to be confused with the Fishing Master title which was released on the Wii a decade ago. There are a few things to keep in mind with this game however and the first, and most obvious, is that you’re going to need a VR headset. The second is that you will need a move controller. Anyone who picked up the PSVR bundle already has one but there are those such as myself you may have went with the standard edition and if you only happened to over the PS4 camera, you’re going to be missing a vital component.
The game begins with a simple tutorial which will teach you how to fish. To cast you must hold the trigger button and move the controller behind you, then cast forward releasing the trigger in the process. This is much easier than it sounds. After that it’s a matter of waiting and fortunately Fishing Master doesn’t take too long before the virtual fish start biting. Once you’ve got one on the line you’ll first need to move the controller in the indicated direction to get the next portion of the game moving. To actually catch your fish you will need to hold the trigger button and move the controller in the opposite direction that the fish is moving. This will send “damage” down the line which will begin to tire it out. However the fish will start fighting, constantly thrashing about in the water which will put strain on your fishing line. If it turns red it’s in danger of breaking and you’ll need to release the trigger or try and move in the opposite direction. When the fish is tired you will automatically begin to reel it in but the fish will also start gaining its strength back. This can lead to yet another fight in the water but once the fish is close enough you will be instructed to pull the rod back. Your fish will fly out of the water and land in the boat.
As with many fishing games players also have the opportunity to upgrade their gear. This can come from being awarded for completing objectives as well as simply catching fish and earning coins. Inside the boat you will have access to a tablet which lets you shop. You can purchase different rods, reels, bait, line and even energy drinks to give you a bit of a boost. There is a glossary containing details of the types of fish you’ve caught and so far everything I’ve seen has been real world fish, nothing imaginary. You can also repair your gear in the boat as fishing will begin to cause wear and tear on your equipment. The game however will show you general information about everything with each fish you catch so there’s never too much question about if you need to do a little work. If what you currently have setup doesn’t seem to be working you can always make changes and hit the water again.
As the game progresses players will find that the objectives can become increasingly difficult. Often it does come down to having the right gear in your inventory. When I hit the point of needing to catch three star fish I seemed to pull in those which were one and two. After purchasing better lures and setting them up, grabbing three star fish wasn’t really an issue at all. I did notice however that at times the daily goals tended to be a bit vague while others were fairly straight forward. Sometimes simply going out fishing and doing various things allowed me to achieve those were I wasn’t necessarily certain what needed to be done.
Playing the game via VR does give you a decent sense of being out the in world although it’s not necessarily a photo realistic environment. When you’ve caught a fish you can look down at the deck of the boat and see it flopping around, desperately trying to breathe in water as it seems to slowly die but even after watching for a few minutes, the fish never really dies. I suppose that’s just the cruel part of me desiring to see just how realistic Fishing Master wants to be. The big drawback I felt is that when you’re on deck and ready to cast, you are stuck with a static screen. You can look around all you want but you aren’t free to move your in-game position around. The entry to the boat also happens to be behind you which makes sense but then to enter you need to completely turn yourself around. This also requires you to push the trigger button and there were a few times while I was casting where I hit trigger as I moved the controller back and instead of fishing, I found myself back inside the boat. You will unlock different areas in each of the games fishing locations so you won’t always have to stare at the same screen.
The idea of Fishing Master having you sit in one spot and wait for a fish to take the bait probably isn’t going to appeal to those who like to be outside and sit in one spot while they wait for a wish to take their bait but that’s certainly not everyone. As I wrote as I started this review, I’m not much of an outdoors type of person so virtual fishing is more to my liking. I would have enjoyed seeing the game include the ability to move around a bit more, not just on the desk but even going as far as allowing players to pilot the boat to other parts of the area to fish but perhaps that’s something which can be done in a future release of the game. Fishing Master isn’t certain to hook everyone but there are those who are going to find that the quaint fishing game is just the thing they’ve been looking for.
Mike is the resident reviewer for Couponing to Disney and his own site Underland Online. He has a toddler daughter and is obsessed with Haunted Mansion and all things Disney. You can read Mike’s complete bio here.