We all know how rare it is for a sequel to match the success of a celebrated predecessor – let alone exceed it – but Innerspace VR has pulled off such a feat with Another Fisherman’s Tale. The original A Fisherman’s Tale is not only a clever puzzle game but also a charming kind of fairy tale that takes players on an entertaining journey in virtual reality. It takes advantage of the medium to fully immerse players in an interactive setting that engages the heart, mind and body in equal measure. The sequel does the same while also implementing a new puzzle mechanic that entertains in its own right.
This new adventure finds Nina, the daughter of Bob the Fisherman, sorting through her father’s models (and tall tales) and her memories of childhood to try and piece together the man that was her dad. It’s fitting, then, that the core gameplay is also piecing together Bob from a variety of parts after he was shipwrecked and left in pieces. When not controlling Nina, players act as a puppet of Bob to choose from various appendages that aid in solving puzzles, which might have elements such as platforming, moving parts and hidden objects for players to navigate and overcome.
I’ll try to avoid significant spoilers, but if you want to experience the game for yourself, you might want to avoid some of the following detail or accompanying videos (which explore a little of the puzzle design). Bob, it turns out, can replace body parts depending on the challenge he faces. His head can be tossed for surveying/scouting, his hands for grabbing/retrieving, a claw for cutting and a hook for grappling, not to mention a fish tail used for swimming. Sometimes a puzzle will require several, and at times in combination. That will depend on the level design and puzzle elements.
Each level is an interactive model where the action takes place, from an island to a ship to a freight yard and more. Free movement and teleportation are the default locomotion options to navigate each area, which are designed with scale and verticality in mind to encourage consideration of all the tools at the player’s disposal. A typical puzzle might involve Bob launching his head to survey inaccessible areas or just get a new perspective, using the hook to grapple beyond an obstacle, employing the claw to cut a rope and utilizing a hand to pull a lever, turn a crank or retrieve an object.
It's important to note that Innerspace VR puzzles are anything but typical. While they might involve familiar objectives such as fetch quests or navigation challenges, they take advantage of changing perspectives in virtual reality for a unique twist. An example is when using Bob's detachable head to also control his body or appendages, but later, more surreal levels use elements like scale (as in the first game) to inspire creative solutions.
Gameplay controls on the Meta Quest 2 include using triggers to launch a hand, claw, hook, etc.; grip buttons to retrieve a hand, etc.; B+Y buttons to launch or retrieve Bob’s head; and thumb sticks to orient and move a launched hand, etc. All controls work well and are fairly intuitive, though it’s to be expected that some movements take practice when changing perspective, such as controlling Bob’s body when watching it from his launched head, or when moving a launched hand. In total, the puzzles are thoughtful without frustrating, and often entertaining.
The only issues I encountered playing the game should not prevent players from enjoying it overall. In general, you can’t do things the game doesn’t want you to, even if it seems like you should be able to, i.e. teleport to any surface that appears accessible or launch an appendage anywhere you want (you can point your hand etc. but it will launch in the direction of specific spots, which can annoy when engaged in trial and error puzzle solving). On one puzzle, a key object would disappear and rematerialize – not where it originated, but in another spot out of view; I had to restart before I figured out where it went.
The otherwise solid controls, well-conceived levels and creative puzzles are complemented by an impressive production that meets the high bar of its predecessor. Settings are beautiful with simple lines but inspired details and a rich color palette. The story is entertaining and poignant, and the dialog is engaging and thoughtful. The music and voice acting evoke fairy tale charm with a lyrical score and endearing, earnest delivery. Each element contributes to an overall enchanting tale that is superb in its own right but succeeds especially as the perfect bookend to the terrific game that came before.
Innerspace VR (and publisher Vertigo Games) knows what works in a virtual reality space. Their games take advantage of the medium to deliver immersive experiences that engage players completely, from fully interactive gameplay to charming stories with emotional hooks. Another Fisherman’s Tale successfully introduces a new gameplay mechanic and an extension of its story to deliver a perfect sequel that might the high expectations established by its predecessor. It’s a rare feat for virtual reality let along video games in general.
(This post was based on a review code of Another Fisherman’s Tale for Meta Quest 2. The virtual reality game released May 11 on that platform as well as on PSVR2 and all PCVR platforms.)
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