Game: Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Review Copy provided by Publisher
Square Enix decided that the tacked-on nature of Final Fantasy XV: VR Experience wasn’t enough and so decided to craft a VR game from the ground up for Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV. While that’s a valiant effort, the game fails to keep up the highs of not only similar fishing games but the Final Fantasy XV fishing minigame it’s based so heavily on.
Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV is a VR fishing game that carries over the equipment, fish, and even some of the music from Final Fantasy XV’s minigame. However the process of catching a fish is a bit different.
You use the move controllers to physically cast your virtual fishing rod and then reel in by grabbing the reel and moving your hand as you would a real fishing rod. You can also grab a sonar device on your chest and activate it to reveal spots where fish are congregating or highlight mission-specific fish.
The main story has you traveling to different locations in the Final Fantasy XV universe and catching fish all while interacting with different characters like Noctis and his friends. You catch fish to fill up a meter which makes a boss fish appear. How do you catch the boss fish? By shooting it with explosive crossbow bolts and then reeling it in when it’s defeated of course!
You can also take on hunting missions where you catch specific fish for money, and try your hand at tournaments where you compete with NCPs to see who can get the most fish within a time limit. There’s also a free mode where you can fish to your heart’s content without the worry of mission objectives or demon fish.
The game captures the feel of real-life fishing and video game fishing pretty well. Waiting for fish to bite can be a relaxing affair as you take in the surprisingly rich and detailed (if pixelated) environments and think about important things in life like global warming or pizza. You can even listen to a selection of fun music while you fish. Then when fish actually bite, the tension ramps up as you fight to capture your fish, wrestling with it in time to its movements to ensure it doesn’t escape.
That’s the theory anyway, and the game can reach those moments. Unfortunately all of the game’s elements do not work in its favor and can really break that tension and release cycle.
First of all, the motion controls are as intuitive and gimmicky as the tech demo-tier stuff you’d see on the Nintendo Wii. Casting requires you to hold down the front button on the move controller and let go as you throw your arm forward. You’ll often find the lure either diving for the water in front of you or casting way beyond your target. You can get away with not casting in the circles indicating where fish are, but you’re much more likely to catch fish there making hitting those targets a necessity, and an often frustrating one at that. Thankfully you can instantly recall your lure by hitting the trigger button instead of reeling it in, which helps to alleviate the frustration.
The game also doesn’t give you enough feedback on how fish are interacting with your lure. Unlike Final Fantasy XV where you get a red line indicating if fish are interested in the lure, you basically just cast the rod and reel the line bit by bit and hope that a fish latches on. Sometimes fish never bite even if you get it in the circles and sometimes you get a bite the second the lure hits the water. I spent half the game with a confused look underneath my VR goggles, wondering whether or not I’m doing something right or wrong. I guess it’s more realistic that you can’t see what the fish are up to, but when you’re shooting demonic fish with a crossbow any argument for realism gets thrown out the window.
Reeling in fish is also not as involved as it is in Final Fantasy XV. Unlike that game where you hit button prompts in time to the fish’s movement, releasing tension when it jumps in the air and hitting the control stick in the right direction, in Monster of the Deep you just reel in the fish and occasionally tilt the move controller when the game prompts you in order to catch fish.
Thankfully the House of the Dead-esque boss fish shooting sections can be simple, dumb fun which helps this game’s favor. Memorizing the movement patterns of fish and striking them before they can do the same to you can be quite thrilling. Unfortunately the majority of boss fish range from easy to annoying. One fight in particular had the fish zooming around the waters with it only really vulnerable during the second it’s jumping right at you. It also had the hit points of a dump truck. And if you fail to reel them in after they’re defeated, they come back with some of their health healed so you have to deal with them some more. But the worst part about battles is that you don’t have any health. All tension from battles is lost when you realize that you can’t die from fish attacks.
The game has a story but it’s nothing more than window dressing an an excuse to introduce Final Fantasy XV characters. Though I have to admit that the character interactions are quite cute even if your yes/no responses to them make it feel like Dora the Explorer at times.
While the graphics can be pretty, it is a bit weird to see the animals just standing there doing the same animations over and over. One interesting thing that I noticed about looking at the graphics is that the area around your peripheral vision is especially pixelated while the straight ahead view is more clear. I can’t say if this improves or not on the PS4 Pro as I’m only playing on my standard PS4. Also, I know the screenshots make the graphics look super pixelated but it’s much better when actually looking at it. Trust me.
I also encountered a few bugs including text boxes reaching the outsides of letters, interaction prompts for looking at objects in the environment appearing while talking to characters, and an especially hilarious glitch where conversations with Cindy will see her entire upper body turned to the side and almost perpendicular to you. There is a day one patch so these bugs may be ironed out. I haven’t encountered anything game-breaking.
Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV can achieve the relaxing and exciting aspects of fishing. Unfortunately the motion controls and lack of feedback make fishing too frustrating to be relaxing and reeling in fish isn’t exciting enough. And the shooting sections don’t do much to salvage the game. I’d say just stick with the fishing minigame from Final Fantasy XV, but if you really want to play a game where you reel in fish before shooting them with explosive weaponry then just play Vlambeer’s Ridiculous Fishing. Despite some promise Monster of the Deep just flounders in its tech-demo mediocrity.
Honestly, I’d rather play the Big the Cat fishing sections from Sonic Adventure than Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV.
- Can be both relaxing and exciting just like real fishing
- Good graphics for a VR game, if pixelated
- Shooting fish with a freakin’ crossbow can be fun
- Motion controls can be frustrating
- A lack of audiovisual feedback while fishing makes the process confusing
- Bosses range from easy to annoying
- Bugs that are thankfully more hilarious than game-breaking