Fishing is a relaxing and somewhat exciting experience. There’s nothing quite like that thrill of the chase when you think you’ve got a 90lb catfish and it turns out to be a 9lb roach. Well, okay, maybe that’s far-fetched but you get the point. That level of uncertainty, never knowing what’s on the other end of your hook, is a feeling that’s tough to match. The question is, does Dovetail Games’ Fishing Sim World replicate that sense of wonder and excitement? To be fair, it does. However, that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its cons.
The game is penned as the most realistic and authentic fishing simulator ever developed. Fishing Sim World takes players around the globe to some widely diverse fishing spots; whether it’s the canal spots in England, or lake boulder in the US of A, there’s some lush locations to throw your line at. Seven locations in total – with over eighteen different types of fish. Each location is filled with special species to work towards too. Simply walk, or drive your boat (complete with a nifty GPS fish tracker) to your desired destination, and you’re ready to dive into the experience ahead.
The game packs hundreds of different equipment pieces within to unlock and use throughout your angling journey. Safe to say that no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll have all the necessary tools at your disposal. The game offers a wide pool of videos that aim to feed you into the experience and give you a firm understanding as to how the game is played out. These videos include the likes of casting your line across a variety of distances, which baits to use, and even how to drive your boat successfully. That, for me at least, is one of the game’s drawbacks.
Now, when it comes to a game that boasts as much realism as this, the hands-off approach just doesn’t cut it. Games such as Fishing Sim World benefit from guided tutorials as it helps to truly bond the player with the gameplay mechanics. Here, on the other hand, it’s a case of watching and learning. This may indeed work for some, but I would have much preferred something more hands-on, rather than being expected to remember all of the game’s functionalities when it came to diving into the game. Nevertheless, however, it is what it is.
Once, if you’re like me, you’ve watched the same video over and over, you’re free to dive into the game’s free roam fishing mode or its tournament mode. I would personally recommend starting in free roam just to get a true feel for the game and work on your casting, as that can indeed be a bit tricky to get the controls just right. There isn’t much to talk about when it comes to what’s expected from the player. You’ll have rods, reels, baits and hooks, all of which are interchangeable – which is helpful depending on your target fish.
Fish are categorized into three types; Carp, Bass and Predator. There are of course several other fish in the game, but they’re all categorized into the above. Once you’ve found a nice spot to cast your line, it’s a case of sitting and waiting for a fish to take the bait. When that happens, it’s your job to pull the fish in and net it. This is where the game’s diverse mechanics begin to surface. Each fish type will behave differently depending on strength, habitat, baits, floats and so on. Generally speaking, the time it takes to catch a fish largely depends on its strength.
You’ll find some fish can be caught in no time at all, whereas others will take a considerable while longer. You’ll need to adjust your reel-in speed as well as account for the tension of the line as you’re bagging your fish. Throughout all of this, the game does a remarkably good job at keeping all the info well laid out on-screen. Because of this, it’s easy to keep on track of your progress per-struggle. Keeping an eye on the tension gauge will help to prevent a break in your line and once your fish is weak enough, you can reel that sucker in.
Controlling the rod can be a bit tense at times and make it feel like you’re dancing with the thing due to the sensitivity of RS, but you can indeed pull your rod in all sorts of directions to achieve better handling. Catching a fish will present you with an info panel; weight, length, and so forth, it’s pretty standard stuff here. Though, when all is said and done, Fishing Sim World’s systems remain robust and flexible enough to stand out. When you’re done with the game’s free roam mode, you’ll be ready to dive into the tournament mode.
Here, you can select from a total of four choices; catch the longest bass, carp, predator, or most fish. One thing that broke immersion here for me was the lack of atmosphere. Nothing really hits you nor stands out here, making for a very isolated and somewhat empty journey. Hell, you don’t even see your opponents when you’re against them. It’s a niggling issue, for sure, but something that stole my attention on a frequent basis. What I will say, to the game’s credit, is that the gameplay is instant. There’s very little waiting about involved here.
You’ll find that you can cast the moment you reel-in, thanks to the fact that the bait on your line is automatically added. This allows for constant, uninterrupted sessions throughout, which given the complexity of the game’s nature, is a wise design choice indeed. The bottom line here is that Fishing Sim World ticks many of the boxes that it needed to, but by trading that for a better and more involved atmosphere, sadly only goes on to hold it back to some degree. It would have been great to see more life to bolster its overall design.
On the visual front, Fishing Sim World is a bit hit and miss. The environments all look amazing, regardless to the time of day and weather you set, and each and every fish looks realistic and well detailed. The water effects get a special mention for their photo-realism, right down to the ripples, reflection and lighting. Though, it’s almost the direct opposite when it comes to your avatar. There’s a sheer lack of detail here, and I’ll go so far as to say that it can be overly grainy at times. The same can be said about the game’s draw-distance, with far out surroundings looking slightly devoid of life.
As for the game’s audio design, this is again somewhat fifty fifty. The audio cues are on point for the most part, but the lack of soundtrack or soft melody that we often see in other games of this type, just goes on to further solidify that feeling of emptiness. I suppose the addition of the game’s online mode – being able to chat with your buddies – helps to alleviate this to some degree. Still, when all is said and done, Fishing Sim World is a decent game with deep systems, and one of the better examples of fishing simulation made fun.
Fishing Sim World offers a soothing, robust and faithful representation of its real-world counterpart. I take issue with the game’s lack of atmosphere and its hands-off tutorial system, but outside of that, there’s little else to scoff at here. When all is said and done, Fishing Sim World manages to tick many of the boxes that it needed to, it’s deep, diverse and packed with choice.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.