Moonglow Bay came out at the end of October, direct into Game Pass. Since then, I’ve tried several times to get into the game for review but each time I bounced off, either distracted by other titles (hello Halo) or simply not finding it gelling with me. However, this weekend I wanted to give it one more attempt and…I actually ended up really enjoying it.
I started off with this tale as I suspect it may be the kind of title that other might bounce off early on. It’s slow, there’s a fair few things to learn in an extended tutorial, and the general atmosphere is one of complete lack of urgency. Being set in a sleepy fishing town that has seen some hard times recently. this tone makes sense, but it’s also definitely an acquired taste that doens’t so much grab us at the off as it does meekly suggest that we can keep playing if we want, but you know, it’s cool if not.
Push through the opening though (that really isn’t that long all told), and there’s a lot to like here. That slow atmosphere actually gives way to fairly snappy missions and exploration. While the town of Moonglow Bay isn’t massive, there are lots of characters to meet, tasks to undertake, buildings to restore, and of course, fish to catch.
It’s a tale of redemption and resotration, with our character having lost their life partner after the games opening to the seas. It was their life goal to fish and set up shop here, and so three years after the accident we are spurned on by our friends and family to restart the business and help the bay return to its former glory. The writing is sweet, with enough charm and humour to get by, if a little too twee at times. Dialogue exchanges are kept brief though, and let us get back to exploring in no time.
Chatting to characters is the best way to unlock extra money-earning missions, with them asking after certain types of sea creatures to eat, or display in the aquarium. A mission board in town has yet more money making extras, and as we progress more stores are made available to help us sell or buy items to help out with all this. The main money making activity though is cooking and selling our own fare. This is done back at our house (or at the later acquired boat kitchen), and takes the form of a handful of snappy reaction mini-games. By successfully hitting buttons at the right time or using the sticks to keep a bar within a certain area we can produce better quality meals. These are then displayed in our very own cabinet out front for people to stop by and purchase. It can get a little tedious making meal after meal (though we can batch cook up to four at once) but as we progress these are more for supplemental income than our main source.
Onto catching the fish then, and it’s about as simple as it could be. We’ve the choice of a few rod types, bait, and lures, which will attract different types of creatures. There’s not much to stress over though as while some fish will only come up of you have the right part equipped, for the most part we can get by with whatever combo we fancy. It pays to explore the bay fully with more types of fish to be found all over the area. It also pays to upgrade the boat early on, as then we can spend more time out on the ocean without the need to come home to cook and offload.
It’s a chill affair for the most part, but it’s not without fault. The interface can be a tad clumsy at times, especially when it comes to the mini map and objectives. We can choose what objectives to track, but when looking on the map the icon merely says ‘Objective’. If we have a few on the go it can be a pain to know which one we’re wanting ot focus on, and newly accepted ones get auto-tracked which can add to the confusion. I found myself flicking between the map and journal menus (both on separate buttons) to try and figure out what was what which definitely felt like a chore at times. The journal does have a little map cut-out under the objective but it requires cross referencing with the map to figure out where it is. For such a relaxed game this felt like an out of place way to track what we were doing. As mentioned, the cooking can get a tad tedious too, and when running around the town I found my character getting stuck on small ledges or in the geometry more than a few times, especially when venturing off the pathways.
Still, even these issues weren’t enough to put me off once I got into the game. The chill nature of the gameplay, the exploration of the oceans, finding new fish and completing quests for the townsfolk meshed together to make a really rather enjoyable time. Moonglow Bay is the perfect palette cleanser in between other grittier titles, and another solid addition to the Game Pass service.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.