I remember fishing.
I only went once or twice back in England, but always had a good time.
Admittedly that had more to do with the copious amount of drugs partaken in before getting anywhere close to sticking a maggot on a hook, but i still look back fondly on those trips and remember the rush of catching my first carp with a wry smile.
The worst part about fishing was always a combination of the weather and the wait. England is wet, dull, miserable even, so hanging around on the side of a lake for HOURS at a time in the small hope that you might get a nibble on the end of your line was somewhat of a chore.
Hence the drugs.
I have since grown up (arguably) and no longer need recreational substances to enjoy a trip to the river. To be honest though, i rarely feel the call of the wild. I’d much rather just hang out in my basement and do things on my own terms.
Catch & Release is perfect for me.
PSVR has had a few fishing games, although none of them really hit the nail on the head. I mean unless you like demon fish in a Final Fantasy setting or Dream Angling…whatever the hell that is.
Catch & Release seems to be the first game of its kind to actually get the idea of fishing right. Just you, a lake, and a mixture of relaxation and excitement for when you eventually do get a bite.
After the initial “what button does what” breaking-in phase, and a quick glance at the options, I was ready to hit the lake. Mercifully, everything is relatively simple and explained well. The VR settings don’t run awfully deep, but why would they need to? It’s not like we’re ripping around a futuristic racing track at 200mph. Rowing a boat is fairly intuitive and definitely doesn’t need a vignette for sharp turns.
After rowing out to the center of the lake it’s time to get to grips with my surroundings. I notice a couple books, a sandwich, a beer, a stone, a radio, a cooler, some bait and of course, my rod.
The tutorial does a great job of explaining the opening salvo. So i thread my bait (much less icky than real life) and cast out. Within a minute or so i get a bite, and before i can even really register what’s going on, my line breaks.
Apparently this is going to be a little tougher than first thought.
I need some tunes. So i reach for the radio and find the least audibly offensive station i can (hope you like country) and give it another shot. This game is all about give and take. If your fish is pulling hard, slack the line. If your fish isn’t doing much, reel it in. This to and fro is what eventually tires your enemy and allows you to pull it aboard. Once aboard you have two options – stick it in the cooler, or let it go.
You get cash either way, but the amount varies. Smaller fish should be thrown back, bigger fish kept and sold. You can even buy a small weighing station for the boat to determine if a fish is worth it or not, In fact you can buy a lot of things. Bait, food, drink, stones, hats, rods, all from your handy dandy magazine. Think the lake equivalent of Sky Mall.
Lake Mall…if you will.
Honestly this is pretty much all there is to it. Which in my eyes, is fucking great!
Row boat, catch fish, buy stuff, catch bigger and/or more interesting fish…repeat.
Mix in some decent music and some fun VR distractions, like drinking virtual beer, and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker. Pun intended.
That’s all it ever needed to be. Just you and the lake. The fish genuinely feel massively procedural. It is exciting to get a whopper…and they do exist.
Being able to travel to different areas and make use of your little guide book to discover exactly what your fish likes bait-wise and its whereabouts, is fun, and makes you feel like you have to do a bit of detective work to truly get what you’re looking for. This makes it vastly more enjoyable when you finally hook it and start the fight to reel it in.
Catch & Release is everything it needed to be. Light on exposition, fun mechanics, replayability, decent graphics and actually benefits from a VR setting. It’s the ultimate palette cleanser after digging into something more spooky or adrenaline peaking. If you’ve been looking for a relaxing fishing sim in VR…look no further.
You can see 30 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay right here and make up your own mind.
Catch & Release is available on PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive & Windows Mixed Reality.