Have you ever wanted to fling fish across hundreds of meters of open sea? Probably not, you can get arrested for that sort of thing. Instead, there’s a mobile game by the name of Fish Out Of Water which will allow you to channel this rather odd enjoyment of yours in a cute and colorful way. Halfbrick Studios, creator of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, released Fish out of Water late last year to the delight of many. But while there’s certainly plenty of casual fun to be found here, there are also a few flaws which hold it back from standing tall amongst the developer’s previous output.
By no means is this game dull though; in fact, it’s a quietly addictive game that could easily keep you playing for quite a while without engulfing your entire social life. The goal is to throw a variety of fish 3 different times across open waters and try to make them go as far as possible in the least amount of skips as possible. This is done by simply tapping and holding the fish, flinging your finger backwards and then forwards before releasing your finger and in turn the fish. A simple enough mechanic which can produce a lot of exhilarating moments.
You’re aided by a boost meter which can be seen at the top of the screen. You can use up some of that boost whilst the fish is in flight and you can refill it each time a fish hits a floating yellow ball. This boost can come in handy if you are trying to beat your previous high score, for example by just a few meters or to simply increase the speed at which the fish is flying at after it hits a wave or something of the likes. Aside from that there’s one other thing that can affect your gameplay.
The ability to combine special jewels that you acquire through a wide range of ways (which may cost or not) will provide you with certain perks throughout your 3-throw games whether they be to influence the judges’ scores or to add an extra bit of meterage to your final count to help with the scores. The 5 judges’ scores at the end are averaged and you are given a final score out of 10 which you can then use to compete against your friends in leaderboards. Overall I found the basis of the gameplay to be fairly straightforward but at times slightly limiting.
It would have been nice if there were a few different aspects to the game, or perhaps some more fish beyond the 6 you’re able to pick from – though to be fair to Halfbrick, all 6 species come with their own individual qualities. Being able to combine certain fish by humorously sticking them together with duct tape to gain both of their abilities would have added more depth to the gameplay, but there’s just enough variation to be had between species to allow a light tactical consideration to the proceedings.
Elsewhere, dynamic weather and seasons add a distinct edge to the game’s potential by presenting you with choppy seas and high waves that can stop your fish in their tracks at any given moment. The occasional inclusion of bouncy trampoline-like jellyfish can also spark a moment of excitement during your playthrough. After playing far too much of Vlambeer’s excellent Ridiculous Fishing, the chance to finally use the translucent bastards to your advantage is welcome.
One particular part of Fish Out Of Water that is extremely enticing is the graphical style. The game displays bright and cheerful colors with vivid animations and cute character models for the fish which are simply gorgeous. You can’t help but feel happy whilst playing this game even when the storms hit or winter comes and the sea becomes choppy and dangerous you can’t help but feel immersed. There is one issue however which in this day and age, especially with the retina displays seen in iOS devices, which should have been fixed and that is the excessive pixel count seen on the edges of certain graphical models. Even the loading screen lacks detail and sharpness, which already as it is takes a little too long to load.
The sound on the other hand is crisp and expansive with some lovely soundscapes of the sea, wind and splashing waves as well as some cute squeaky noises for the fish. Again, these add to the ‘cuteness’ of the game but also the immersion with accurately timed plops and specific jingles for each type of fish. It’s nice to see such a detailed set of sounds for what is an incredibly simple game.
It is a huge shame however that the game is so short-lived in terms of replayability. It would have been nice to see an upgrade tree mechanic for example or as previously mentioned different locations as this would encourage players to come back and play more however I feel that after a week or so of playing it you will swiftly move on to another game. One would have also thought that a DLC expansion or update to the game would have been produced since its 2013 release to keep players hooked. Unfortunately though, this isn’t the case.
With a lack of content or incentive to make you play longer, ultimately Fish out of Water’s long-term appeal is limited. The only real bonuses to are the lovely visuals and diverse sound work, with a couple of initial giggles and laughs to be had along the way thanks to game mechanics which sadly become over-familiar as time goes on. But it’s worth a try, particularly given the fact it’s free. Halfbrick has a great track record when it comes to mobile gaming, but as fun as Fish out of Water is in limited doses, it doesn’t have enough long-term appeal to guarantee a long-term stay on your device.