After the not-so-great reception of Final Fantasy XV: VR Experience, Square Enix decided to go back to the drawing board and craft a fully fledged VR game from the ground up instead of just a tacked on bit of DLC to accompany Final Fantasy XV. And that game has culminated into Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy 15.
And what do I think after about two or so hours of gameplay on PSVR? Despite some promise the game flounders around like a caught fish.
Author’s Note: Game copy provided by Square Enix.
The main story has you going to different locations in the Final Fantasy XV universe and catching fish all while interacting with different characters like Noctis. After catching enough fish in an area, a boss fish appears which you then have to – and I’m not kidding here – shoot with explosive crossbow bolts until it’s pacified and you can reel it in. In addition to that, there’s a sort of mission mode where you hunt for specific fish in an area as well as a free mode where you can fish at your leisure without having to worry about objectives or demon fish.
Sounds awesome, right? Well there are a couple of caveats to that.
First of all, there’s barely anything to fishing. You have to grab a sonar device on your chest and then activate it to highlight circles over the water. You then have to cast your lure into the circles in order for a chance to catch any fish. You can’t just cast anywhere or reel the lure into the circles; you have to cast it into the circles. That’s fine except for the fact that casting in VR is a pain. Either you do it too softly and the lure dives for the water in front of you or you do it too hard and it overshoots the target. It also has a tendency to not fly in a straight path in front of you. Thankfully you can instantly recall your lure with a push of a button instead of reeling it in. However, even if you manage to get the lure in the circle, it’s a toss up if you actually get a bite. Sometimes you don’t get a bite for a long while prompting you to hit the lure recall button and sometimes you get a bite immediately after the lure hits the water.
The only time you have influence over whether or not you catch a fish is when you’re actually reeling them in. And even then all you have to do is tilt the rod in the direction the game tells you to. Unlike a game such as Sega Bass Fishing, where you can move around the lure and see fish peck at the hook under the water, you don’t have that kind of control before a fish chomps on the hook. I guess it’s more realistic that you can’t really do anything until a fish bites, but when you’re shooting demonic, teleporting, cloning fish with a crossbow, any argument for realism gets thrown out the window.
While the crossbow sections can be pretty fun, it’s just yet another VR shooting gallery to add to the pile. It really doesn’t fit the relaxed mood the game is going for.
The presentation is pretty nice. Backgrounds are rich and detailed even if the textures are a bit pixelated. The interactions you have with the characters is pretty cute even if your yes/no responses to them make it feel like Dora the Explorer. One interesting thing that I noticed about looking at the graphics is that the area around your peripheral vision is especially pixelated, which means the straight ahead view has more priority when rendering. I can’t say if this improves or not on the PS4 Pro as I’m only playing on my standard PS4.
I can see how Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV can be a relaxing, chill game (you know, aside from the crossbow shooting), and how that relaxing mood can be interspersed with moments of tension just like in any other great fishing game. But casting your rod and trying to get a bite is too frustrating to be relaxing and reeling in fish isn’t exciting enough to drive tension. Overall this looks to be yet another glorified tech demo for VR, and I’d honestly rather play the Big the Cat fishing sections of Sonic Adventure than this game.
Be on the lookout for my full review coming soon. In the meantime, you can check out Heavy for more game impressions, reviews, guides, and features.