TL;DR: A deep and immersive fishing game that will satisfy even the most hardcore anglers.
Hook, Line, and Sinker!
Fishing games are a niche genre if there ever was one. My first real encounter with a fishing game started when I first laid my grubby little hands on Super Black Bass for the SNES. After that, I was literally hooked.
But over the years, there have been a handful of fishing titles that can be best described as boring, uninspired, and unoriginal. The same cannot be said, however, for The Fisherman: Fishing Planet by developer Fishing Planet LLC which delightfully reminds us all that for every crappie we catch, there’s a precious lunker hiding somewhere deep below.
As a simulation sport, The Fisherman seemingly has all the elements of a good fishing game: authentic equipment including float, spinners, bottom fishing as well as over 140 different types of fish species displaying their own unique aquatic behaviors.
On the graphical side, virtual fishing has never looked so good. From the lush fauna surrounding the massive lake beds to the dynamic changing day and night cycles, The Fisherman offers the type of ambient surroundings you could only get from actually being outdoors. The backdrops, sound effects, and presentation had me totally immersed. Special mention should go out to the team who created the meticulously realistic water effects. From the gentle sway of the ripples to its shimmering reflections, the water in this game looks and feels so natural.
On the graphical side, virtual fishing has never looked so good.
Using a controller lends itself quite well especially when you have force feedback enabled, which is a big plus. However, I was more content with the mouse and keyboard combo since it gave me more precision and accuracy when reeling in and casting out.
Reelin’ in the Fun!
Gameplay-wise, the game replicates exactly what you would expect from a fishing simulator. Choose your gear, your hook, your reel, your bait, the area to fish in, and cast away. And just like real fishing you wait and wait. Luckily, the excellent tutorial helps guide you to examine what gear is needed to catch the species of fish that dominates a particular lake or river.
This is the challenge I would say many new anglers will struggle with because you simply won’t catch fish just by throwing a baited hook in the water. Laugh all you want, but half the battle is knowing your setup and knowing where to cast your line. The excitement of exploring every murky area adds another layer to the fun factor. Make no mistakes about it this is a thinking man’s fishing game.
Once the fish latches on, the wait time would have been worth it as the fish swims and struggles in a life-like manner. Every zig-zagging move is replicated convincingly and adds visceral pleasure to an already dynamic play mechanic.
My biggest pet peeve with this game (and something almost all fishing games are guilty of) is that in order to make the game more challenging, the weight of the fish seems directly related to the gear/combo you’re using. So if you’re using sub-par or average gear, it would take you the same amount of time to lure in a fish that weighs three pounds versus one that weighs in at ten pounds unless you’ve upgraded your accessories. I’m not sure if this is always the case, but it seems pretty consistent in the time I’ve spent with the game.
My biggest pet peeve with this game (and something almost all fishing games are guilty of) is that in order to make the game more challenging, the weight of the fish seems directly related to the gear/combo you’re using.
While the Fishing Planet franchise is essentially free-to-play, this version does have all the DLCs, enhancements, and other exclusive content included without you having to grind for them in the free version.
Overall, The Fisherman: Fishing Planet is a solid title that is obviously geared towards fishing aficionados and those who have a keen interest in the sport. The detail and depth of the game world are extremely satisfying, even against the jarring complaint I have. Fishing Planet LLC is within reach of creating a game that will be loved by all anglers as long as they continue to improve on the mechanics and continue to listen to their fan base. With any luck, they will hopefully achieve that goal in the near future.