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A Fisherman’s Tale Review

It’s all about perspective

The open sea terrifies me, and I’ll gladly keep my pasty white pins on dry land, but I do love the concept of lighthouses. Beacons in the dark that call to the lost, beckoning them home to safety; it’s a beautiful concept. Sure, it’s a cliched and romanticised take on a big building with a bright light in it, and no, I don’t know if they’re even essential for nautical travel these days, but I’ll continue to love them all the same. A Fisherman’s Tale, developed for by Innerspace VR, fully leans into the sentimental vision of a lighthouse and its keeper, telling a whimsical tale and providing creative puzzles that utilise the unique perspective that only virtual reality can offer.

Waking up in a dimly lit room, you stroll over to the sink to brush your teeth because every day should start with good oral hygiene. That is if you’ve actually got pearly whites. Catching your reflection in the mirror, you’ll quickly realise that your bushy beard is birch, as A Fisherman’s Tale has you playing as an adorable puppet version of a lighthouse keeper, complete with hands connected to string, a neat thematic way to explain the floating appendages.

A few household chores get you up to speed with the game’s fairly basic controls, complete with teleporting movement that helps avoid any motion sickness, which seems appropriate for a game tied closely to naval travel. A particularly clever mechanic allows you to extend your puppet hands to reach items from a distance, allowing you to stay seated or stand in place.

It’s like playing a huuuuuge claw machine

Everything seems above board to begin with, that is, until you take notice of the model lighthouse in the centre of the room. Removing the top of the perfect replica will cause the very roof you are under to lift, raised by a gigantic version of your puppet protagonist. Within the replica, another tiny copy of the fisherman can be seen, mimicking every movement you make. This loop creates the core gameplay mechanic for the puzzles to come, as interacting with the model lighthouse will manipulate the world around you and vice versa.

While ascending the lighthouse to rekindle the torch and bring the ship out of a looming storm, you’ll be faced with various puzzles that make clever use of the concurrent realities within and without. The puzzles themselves aren’t overly difficult, often involving shrinking an item by taking it from the miniature or enlarging it by doing the opposite, but thinking outside the box (literally) and finding the solution always resulted in me smiling to myself.

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A very charming and very French disembodied voice narrates as you and your tiny/enormous selves complete puzzles and climb the lighthouse. The narration gives context to your actions, telling a simple yet sweet story of legacy and familial acceptance, all while keeping a light-hearted, whimsical tone. A handful of supporting characters, each with a quirky personality, will also drop in and out of the picture as you progress.

Ahh, it’s a beautiful day to be out on the sink water 

Reaching the top of the lighthouse and the credits will only take an hour or slightly longer if you get stuck on a puzzle or two, and while I appreciate that the game doesn’t outstay its welcome, I found that I was only just finding my groove with the logic of the world before things quickly came to a close. I’ll rarely complain about a succinct experience, and I was largely satisfied, but one or two extra areas would’ve really hit the sweet spot.

Thanks to the point-and-teleport movement, playing through A Fisherman’s Tale in one sitting was comfortable, though a few odd jitters popped up from time to time. Aside from the odd perspective slide, the other main issue was collision detection. Being able to extend your hands is a wonderful quality of life inclusion, but it did result in me dropping whatever I was holding because it bumped a wall or other object on the way back to me. While there were a few oddities, the performance was top-notch everywhere else.

Final Thoughts

I remember being infatuated with the reality-warping mechanic at the heart of Maquette, another puzzle game that lets you manipulate the world using a scale model. Taking that concept and transferring it into a VR space elevates the experience, as you can truly feel the sense of scope and scale. While fleeting, A Fisherman’s Tale is a beautiful little adventure that’s full of heart and wonder, and its charming visuals and narration are infectiously cute. I would like to have explored this world for a bit longer, but that just speaks to the quality that’s packed into the brief journey.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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A Fisherman’s Tale Review
Perspective Puppetry
While A Fisherman’s Tale is shorter than many people’s daily commute to work, its abundance of charm and clever use of the core puzzling mechanic make it a VR title worth cozying up with on weekend afternoon.
The Good
Fun, creative core mechanic
Entertaining puzzles
Charming narration and story
Beautiful visuals
The Bad
Very short run time
The odd technical trouble
Low difficulty may disappoint some
8
Get Around It
  • Innerspace VR
  • Vertigo Games
  • PS5
  • September 1, 2023

A Fisherman’s Tale Review
Perspective Puppetry
While A Fisherman’s Tale is shorter than many people’s daily commute to work, its abundance of charm and clever use of the core puzzling mechanic make it a VR title worth cozying up with on weekend afternoon.
The Good
Fun, creative core mechanic
Entertaining puzzles
Charming narration and story
Beautiful visuals
The Bad
Very short run time
The odd technical trouble
Low difficulty may disappoint some
8
Get Around It
Written By Adam Ryan

Adam's undying love for all things PlayStation can only be rivalled by his obsession with vacuuming. Whether it's a Dyson or a DualShock in hand you can guarantee he has a passion for it. PSN: TheVacuumVandal XBL: VacuumVandal Steam: TheVacuumVandal

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