A Big Fish in a Small Pond
Occasionally, larger development studio will use Early Access to fund a game that they’re not sure is worth the risk. Dovetail Games Fishing appears to be such an example, a fishing simulation game to add to their already extensive catalogue of simulators. Let’s have a look at the game in its current state.
Hints of Polish
It became apparent very shortly into my time with Dovetail Games Fishing that the studio working on it has more resources available than most who use Early Access. The interface, graphical fidelity (even if performance isn’t there yet) and AAA-like introductory cut scene speak of a determination to reach a high standard.
There’s a tutorial game mode in place, but not fully fleshed out yet. It’s currently a guide through the process of claiming a peg and casting off – something that it does well in an intuitive and informative way – again it shows the craft of an experienced studio.
There are still issues with the game, as with any Early Access project. The game is currently not at all optimised, and will perform poorly on pretty much any system.
There’s no key rebinding, and controller support is spotty.
Multiplayer has only recently been introduced, and it’s not really in a playable state yet. It’s very glitchy and unstable.
Pricing is a concern to me. This is a game that has undergone 4 price increases just this year as more features are added. In principle, it’s fair enough – however, as a consumer it looks troubling. Perhaps it would be better if they made a compromise on price and left it alone for six months, regardless of what features get added. Making money is supposed to be done at release, not during development. They risk losing the trust of their customers and pricing themselves out of further development funding with this approach.
Release Date: 04/11/2014
Available on: Windows, PC Download
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Dovetail Games Fishing vs Carp Fishing Simulator
There’s really only one other fishing simulator on Early Access at the moment, and that’s Carp Fishing Simulator, which I have also reviewed.
Carp Fishing Simulator has taken the route of going for a full simulation experience, with very little “gamification”. Dovetail Games Fishing is taking a slightly more compromised approach.
There are player levels which increase through experience gained from achievements and completing challenges – levelling up will allow access to more content – and there’s an in game currency that can be used to purchase equipment.
The advantage of this approach is that it gives the player a sense of challenge and objectives to work toward. Carp Fishing Simulator allows everything to be accessed immediately, giving the player complete freedom without restriction. The former is my preference, although there’s the risk that it becomes victim to microtransaction fever and pay-to-win syndrome, especially when multiplayer is present. The latter doesn’t carry these risks, but it can be overwhelming to new players and can reduce enjoyment.
Both games allow the player to walk around the environment and choose a peg to set up at. Dovetail Games Fishing makes use of first and third person views, while Carp Fishing Simulator is limited to first person only.
Comparing the two, Dovetail Games Fishing looks better, has better sound design and looks much more authentic. The locations are incredibly lush with flora, trees are varied and actually move in the breeze. Although the game needs some tweaking, especially with the anti-aliasing, it presents incredibly realistic environments.
Carp Fishing Simulator, on the other hand, is very lacklustre in this regard. The environment is sterile, very small and includes the same tree copy and pasted several times. There’s a single bird sound repeated constantly which becomes incredibly aggravating.
Lakes are not uniform across their entire area, neither on the surface nor on the bed. This is something that Dovetail Games have worked into their simulator. Different areas will have a different bed – it might be silt, gravel or full of weeds, and this has an effect on bait selection and technique. Carp Fishing Simulator at present has uniform lakes, with no implantation of lakebed environments at all.
Another major point in favour of Dovetail Games Fishing is the way it deals with populating the lake. There are fish leaping out of the water and surface disturbances – the fish are in the lake before you cast off. Casting toward an area where a fish has recently broken the surface will give you a higher chance of hooking on one. It makes the game feel alive.
Carp Fishing Simulator has chosen a different method. Instead, there are no fish in the lake. It’s empty – until you cast off – at which point it will decide, after a random amount of time, to spawn one on the end of the hook. The game looks lifeless in comparison.
While both games are still in development, Carp Fishing Simulator probably at an earlier stage, it’s clear that Dovetail Games have spent more time on the animation. Everything looks pretty ship-shape already – from the way my character walks around in third person, to the way the rod reacts to a fish pulling at the line, to the way the fish themselves move – examples that Carp Fishing Simulator doesn’t currently have perfected.
If I were comparing gameplay and nothing else, choosing between Dovetail Games Fishing and Carp Fishing Simulator would be a no-brainer. Dovetail Games Fishing looks to have the most potential by far, it’s created by an experienced studio and it has a larger team behind it. However, the pricing history of the title is already suspect, and there are rumours of microtransactions being introduced in the future, neither of which appear on the horizon for Carp Fishing Simulator.
Primarily for those reasons, I don’t feel like either game is worth spending money on yet – Carp Fishing Simulator just isn’t ready, and while Dovetail Games Fishing has a playable single player mode, I just don’t trust Dovetail Games enough to spend the current €20 asking price. If you want a fishing fix, go with SEGA Bass Simulator for now.
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Dovetail Games Fishing is developed by Dovetail Games.