When we were offered a code for Fishing Sim World, as our resident simulator aficionado I thought I’d give the game a whirl, I mean, I have okay memories as a kid of going fishing, bored out of my mind, sitting out in the cold looking over a still, dulcet reservoir. But does the game live up to the real-world experience?
I remember back in the day being taken on a day out fishing. My dad (who wasn’t my real dad but he will be for the sake of this review) was a bit of an outdoorsy type but not the modern Instagram-worthy outdoorsy, rather the type of person who was happy with a renewed fishing and shotgun license for Christmas and would occasionally be found skinning a hare or Pigeon in the backyard.
So it’s safe to say that I’ve had a handful of experiences with, I guess you could call them, “alpha-male activities” of hunting and fishing. So I thought “what the hell, let’s relive my youth” and jumped right into Fishing Sim World expecting to be enthralled with the relaxing yet intense activity of fishing. And in very brief I can say that the game certainly lived up to my real-world experience.
Before getting up to my knees in river water, I decided to dive right into the tutorial because I’ll be honest, I have no idea how to fish. Back in the day, I was given the “kiddie rod” which was essentially a long pole with some fishing line on the end. It didn’t have a reel, it was essentially a PVC pipe. According to Google this type of pole is a “still fishing” rod, or a coarse fishing rod, which makes sense considering we literally sat still for like, six yawn-filled hours.
Anyway, Fishing Sim World is from the same company behind Train Sim World which had some pretty impressive, practical, tutorials. The reason I mention this is because Fishing Sim World essentially offers videos for you to watch. The whole “learning by doing” ethos isn’t here and frankly, I learned next to nothing from the tutorials to begin with.
So with some basic idea of how to cast and reel in – largely due to the on-screen controls – I decided to hop in the boat and find a fancy looking fishing spot. Luckily, the boat comes equipped with a radar which gives you some idea of where fish are located. Having traveled out into the lake I found a nice cluster of both small and large fish at around 180 feet. Surrounded by lush American environments, this lake was picturesque and peaceful, I decided to chuck my bait hook out into the water and thus I waited.
At first I simply just started reeling in the line, slowly at first, but after about half an hour of doing that and getting nothing, I decided to let the hook sink some more as I recalled the fish were swimming quite a bit below the surface. Once again, nothing. After another 30 minutes, I decided to change spots. Perhaps my engine disturbed the fish. So I approached a new location a little slower, found a cluster of fish, and started again… nothing.
After around an hour and a half of getting nothing I was almost considering that Fishing Sim World was a parody title. A game which has people sitting and fishing and getting absolutely nothing, not unlike real life. But then I decided to try the tutorials once again. After having some idea of what to actually do in the game I had more of an understanding the third, fourth, and fifth time I watched the video.
Then I realized something. I was using a rod, bait, and hook for catching Bass. And in the tutorial menu, there’s a lovely video on “How to Catch Bass”. Watching this video I realized all this time, I’d actually wasted almost two hours using the wrong set up for catching whatever fish were located in the middle of the lake. Turns out, Bass are cheeky little fish which like to hunt from the shadows of the shore. “Predatory fish” they’re called.
After watching a handful of other tutorials regarding set up, fishing styles, and how to actually catch the fish I was set up for, I was prepared to catch me some supper – despite having to return the fish back to the lake… Instead, I settled on a cup of tea.
Anyway, after ten minutes of messing around with Constant and Start and Stop reeling techniques, I actually caught my first fish. The hook was a bit poor, but reeling in was simple enough and adjusting the tension was intuitive albeit a little panic-inducing. That being said, within a blink of an eye I’d reeled in my first fish.
Was I excited by the catch? Honestly, it all happened a little too quickly. I know the intention is to tire the fish out before fully reeling them in, and maybe with a much larger catch I’d have had more of a struggle, but simply put it was quite underwhelming, which is a shame considering I put a fair bit of time into actually mastering the technique (albeit a little sloppily).
Fishing Sim World did, however, teach me the basics of fishing Bass and I can come away saying that I’ve learned a few things about the sport. Ultimately though, the tedium of fishing is perfectly encapsulated in this game, which, to some, might consider this a detriment to the game. However, much like most simulators, it offers a way for fans of the subject matter to enjoy their hobby, craft, or career from the comfort of their own homes.
While there’s Bass fishing in Fishing Sim World, players can seek out other fish to catch, experiment with different rod configurations, and explore the environment which I will admit is actually pretty stunning. Fishing is about enjoying the world around you, it’s not a rush, it’s a calm, relaxing hobby, and that’s also brought across in this game.
With fishing being a very seasonal affair, Fishing Sim World gives hobbyist or even career fisherman the chance to do this all year round, and I think that’s the point of Fishing Sim World. It’s not the next SEGA Bass Fishing, and while I personally can’t compare the game to any other big fishing sims out there today, I can say that the Fishing Sim World is a solid and fairy accessible fishing sim.
While I would prefer the tutorials be more “learn as you play”, diving into the game blind actually helped me understand aspects of the game shown in the tutorial videos, which might be a round-about way of learning how to play the game and understanding the various aspects of fishing. Though I feel that this experience might be more personal to me, rather than someone who has at least some idea of fishing, whom I believe this game would be catered to.
Overall, I went into Fishing Sim World blind with little to no familiarity with other fishing sims or what to expect from a fishing simulator. That being said, I came away with some knowledge of fishing and a nice little record of fish that I’d caught. If I were more into the sport/hobby, I’d probably continue to play it, but as more of a fan of the broad simulation genre it’ll likely be one of those games I can say I have played, but probably won’t play again.