A Fisherman’s Tale review – the one that got away

A mind-bending story inside your VR headset. Here’s our review of A Fisherman’s Tale…


 

When it comes to games, the player is the puppet master of every protagonist you assume the role of. It’s an idea Innerspace’s immersive VR adventure, A Fisherman’s Tale, doesn’t shy away from, since it casts you in the role of a puppet.

Specifically, you’re a puppet resembling your fisherman creator, who frankly isn’t much of a fisherman, as the narrator tells you about how he spends his days in his cabin building models, including an exact replica of the house where you both live.

The house also has a cabin model with a fisherman puppet inside, who in turn has his own model cabin. Or wait, is your master also just a puppet himself who might have another creator? It really is a mind-bending Matryoshka doll of a paradox.

To keep things relatively grounded, the game prioritises your puppet’s perspective, so you’re the sentient one whose actions will be mimicked by the other versions of you. Hunch over your fisherman’s cabin diorama in the centre of your room, then look up, and you’ll see your giant master also peering from above.

This is where the fun comes in, as you’re required to solve a series of puzzles that cleverly play with scale, such as how dropping a fun-sized object into your model cabin results in a larger version of the same object dropped into your cabin by your giant self, or vice versa.
But for all A Fisherman’s Tale’s storybook wonder, the experience is often hampered by the controls.

In PSVR, locomotion is done by teleporting, but instead of blinking to set points, you aim your Move controller at a trajectory, which is fine when you want to move from one side of the room to the other, but awkward when you’re just trying to reposition yourself about a foot to the left. Another mechanic extending your puppet arms should solve the problem of interacting with items just out of reach – an issue I’ve had with SUPERHOT VR – but because it’s limited to one setting, it often results in your arms then becoming too far out, so I’m having to stretch my arm backwards so my hand can come back within an item’s grasp.

There’s also some clumsy glitches where things get stuck through a wall, in which case you’ll have to wait around for an item to respawn in its original location.

Control issues aside, A Fisherman’s Tale is also yet another very short VR-based narrative. That’s not to say this land-dwelling fisherman’s quest needs to be dragged out, but when its mechanics are this inventive, I feel that it could have easily been used to sustain more inventive puzzles around a game not limited to its short narrative. To paraphrase a certain character, I could do with more – and bigger – fish.

Highlight

As demonstrated by Moss last year, a story told with a diorama is a comfortable fit for VR, except A Fisherman’s Tale essentially has you in a diorama, within a diorama. You also get an old-fashioned storytelling vibe as the narrator doubles as the voices of the other characters.

Verdict

An original but short-lived VR narrative, while awkward controls interfere with its clever ideas.

65%

Genre: Adventure / Puzzle
Format: PSVR (tested) / Vive / Rift / Windows MR
Developer: Innerspace VR
Publisher: Vertigo Games
Price: £11.99 (PSVR) / £13.99 (Steam)
Release: Out now

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