Fishing simulator is not a crowded genre on any platform. Steam’s Early Access and other platforms, such as Facebook, are proving to be somewhat of a haven for what is an underpopulated niche. Here I’ll take a look at one such Early Access title, Carp Fishing Simulator, developed by the wonderfully named Dangerous Derk Interactive. Is it the real thing, or a red herring?
A Weird Beginning
I guess I was expecting a staging screen of some type. Perhaps set in a shop where I could choose a rod, my bait and accessories, while being limited by carry capacity or money. What I got was entirely different. I Matrixed into a world that consisted of some dodgy looking shacks and a small pond.
I was told to walk around using the arrow keys, so I did. I’ve always thought that simulations only really work if they’re immersive. Shuffling around like a zombie with sound effects that would be considered average on a BBC Micro is not immersive. But at least they’ve stuck to the idea of realism.
Until it comes to setting up my gear. Now, given that I have to physically walk my character around, I was expecting some contrived routine of setting up a tent and assembling my rods – instead I just pressed a single key and everything magically appeared. Heh. That’s not a consistent level of design, and it served as a warning for what was to come.
So I’ve set up, and it’s time to pick my equipment. From a pop-up menu. With no restrictions. I can also change my gear at any time. Undoubtedly handy, but why go through the pain of having my character walk around when everything else is unrestricted and instantaneous?
Casting off is pretty dull, and the sound effects don’t really improve either. It sounds suspiciously like the sound of the float hitting the water was recorded by dropping something heavy into a toilet bowl in an echoing bathroom.
Sadly, the most important and vital part of any fishing game, simulation or otherwise, the actual catching of a fish, is utterly lifeless in its current incarnation. Most bizarre of all, there aren’t any fish swimming around in the pond. There’s no sign of life anywhere – until the game randomly generates a fish on the end of the hook. This fish will then casually swim around with a rudimentary animation until it reaches the net, which never actually goes underwater, yet the fish, which never comes out of the water, somehow manages to get trapped inside anyway.
Once landed, the fish then magically appears on a table, where I photographed it. If it weren’t for the message appearing at the bottom of the screen telling me I had done so, there would have been no feedback of any kind. Then the fish disappeared.
Release Date: 28/04/2015
Available on: Windows, PC Download
Play the Game
It’s an Early Access Title – but…
There’s some weird decision making going on here. The start of the game lead me to believe that everything would be very involved and lifelike. Yet nothing, apart from having to walk to my spot, was. A lot of the issues I encountered with stability, a lack of animation and proper sound effects can be explained away by Early Access – but sometimes that’s an easy answer. Indeed, previews of version 2 look much better in terms of graphics and animations, but there’s no guarantee that the underlying flaws will be fixed or reworked.
There’s no indication that anything will be done to deal with the immersion-breaking inconsistencies, which is the biggest problem for a game that’s supposed to be a realistic simulator.
It’s worth noting that the developer has hinted at various improvements to come – controller support, an online mode where other players will be visible (this could go a long way to making the game feel less lifeless), a possible crafting mode a la Rust and friends, and new locations (perhaps a lake worthy of the name?).
I’m just not sure that these changes will be enough. The premise is wrong, for me. I wonder if the developer had hopes of a game suitable for the Oculus Rift and then realised that they couldn’t actually achieve that, but decided to go ahead and make it a traditional game anyway? It would certainly explain the rather odd beginning.
I am a fan of fishing. I love being outdoors at a beautiful location with something to read, something to drink, a pair of binoculars to watch for birds and wildlife while I’m waiting for a bite. That’s half the joy to me. That’s half the joy that Carp Fishing Simulator simply does not appear to have any idea how to replicate – so what’s left is something that perfectly simulates the worst part – waiting around – without being able to simulate any of the pleasures that counteract it.
Avoid. Even if you’re missing an in-depth, realistic fishing simulator, Carp Fishing Simulator is not the answer, certainly not at this stage. Perhaps keep an eye on version 2, when it’s made available, and see if things look better. I have a feeling though that it will be like giving a car with a missing engine a new paint-job.
Play the Game
Carp Fishing Simulator is developed by Dangerous Derk Interactive.