Good fishing games can be as elusive as the legendary fish that appear in them. It might even be more common to find good fishing minigames in major titles like Final Fantasy XV, than stand-alone titles. It probably doesn’t help that many are budget titles that offer the most rudimentary sort of experience. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure is one of those basic sorts of experiences, but attempts to dress things up with RPG elements and styles borrowed from other games. Unfortunately, it ends up being more of a tedious grind than a great game for enthusiasts.
Saving the Lake and a Legend
As with all Reel Fishing games, everything begins with a legendary fish. Alice, Neil, and Sean, three students in an after school club who enjoy fishing, are looking for a school project. After happening across a painting of a colossal fish and meeting a mysterious man, they decide to make it the focus of their group project.
The problem is, the Legend’s natural habitat is incredibly polluted. The mystery man, Mr. Shopman, has been hoping to generate interest in it and restore the waters around the area it called home, but he’s only one (somewhat elderly) man.
So, the Fishing Club has a new mission. They’ll explore the area and try and make it a better place. Sean will fish and take pictures of his catches, to catalog them for Mr. Shopman. (He’s not practicing catch and release, though, so maybe it isn’t the best move for an already precarious environment?) Neil will gather the garbage and recycle the pieces into materials for new lures, reels, and rods. Alice, well, she’ll support the guys by cooking dinners and preparing snacks.
Taking Cues from Persona and Final Fantasy
You wouldn’t expect two of the more popular RPG series out there to have an influence on a fishing simulator, but here we are. Perhaps the idea is to make fishing “cool” again by injecting personality and style. However, adopting a poppy UI, focusing on a cast of young people, and turning it all into a camping adventure doesn’t really help much.
More recent Persona games might be the first thing that comes to mind once you set sail into Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure’s waters. Alice, Neil, and Sean all have character portraits drawn in that series’ signature style, the UI has color schemes that may call to mind Persona 4, and they’re even participating in this whole fishing endeavor for a school club. Generic, jaunty, jazzy music plays in its store. Sean reminds me a bit of Persona 5’s Morgana. Except, instead of insisting that I should turn in for the night, he is convinced that it is getting so dark that we absolutely must return to Mr. Shopman’s shop at 3pm.
Once you actually head out to camp, it feels like you’re on a road trip with Noctis and Ignis. Every evening concludes with the trio around the campfire, enjoying a meal cooked by Alice that has an effect on the group’s performance the next day. The trio talks about the experience and their life. Once you head to bed, you even see a level screen similar to Final Fantasy XV’s, with each person’s actions tallied up to show if they have leveled up and earned more skill points. The only difference is, you probably will never even come close to caring as much about these kids as you did about the crown prince and his guards.
Grinding for Gar
The thing about Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure is that, no matter how you dress it up, it doesn’t make things any more exciting. Each day is much like the last. You get assignments to catch certain fish. (You start out with one, but eventually need to catch two different ones.) After having Neil craft the lure needed to catch it, you head to its natural environment. You stare at an aquatic scene and cast the lure as far as you can, then reel it back in constantly by holding down the R1 button. A fish will inevitably hit on it. You press a right trigger to hook it, fight with it for a bit, maybe engage in a QTE or two, then catch the fish. You then repeat this until 3pm, watching as Neil automatically acquires materials as you do, until it is suddenly “getting late” and you head back.
Initially, this is pretty easy. Once you start getting two quests at a time and head into the second chapter, things ramp up. It isn’t so much that the pattern changes. Rather, the strength of all the fish and their endurance goes up. You only realize you have hit a wall when suddenly your line keeps breaking, even when you’re doing everything right. At which point, you make sure Neil has earned enough skill points from collecting and crafting to level up and learn to make better reels and rods. Maybe you also earn some new recipes for Alice, so you have more stamina-recovering items in the moment.
There are some attempts to help keep things from being too unproductive. Each lure tends to apply to two fish, so it isn’t like you’ll be pulling in a lot of things unrelated to your current objective. Alice’s food can do things like boost your experience or stamina, to speed things up. But it doesn’t help that you spend a lot of time engaging in the same repetitive motions in an attempt to unlock the next quest so you can do it all over again. I suppose you could fortunately say there are only about 10 locations and 20 kinds of fish, so at least you won’t have to spend too much time waiting to catch the Legend.
Definitely a Budget Experience
Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure is a rather rudimentary game. It doesn’t have a huge array of fish, and its locations aren’t exactly packed with personality. It borrows ideas and looks from games that are much brighter and more engaging, then pales in comparison. It isn’t a terrible game, but it feels very bland and eventually feels like you’re going through the motions just so you can keep engaging in the same activities over and over again.
Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure review code provided by Natsume. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.