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A fishing RPG with none of the mess and all of the chill

If the pandemic has been good for anything, it’s sparking completely inexplicable obsessions and hobbies that only last a few weeks before I move on to the next shiny thing. For a while, one of my obsessions was finding a good fishing game.

Now, I’ve been crabbing before with my family. I know that actual fishing is not the quiet, meditative experience that video games condense into snappy minigames. Real fishing can be boring as hell, and if you get some action, it can be gross and smelly. Plus there’s the whole killing a living creature as a hobby thing. Obviously some people just throw fish back, but dealing with messy aspects like pulling a hook out of a wriggling fish’s mouth isn’t exactly my idea of pleasant.

But think about what fishing is as an idea. Doesn’t it sound relaxing and potentially meditative? Why isn’t there a game that taps into that feeling while stripping away the unglamorous aspects of fishing? Sure, there’s a long list of RPGs that tuck fishing away as an option in a larger experience, but I was struck by the fact that I couldn’t name a single game that passed a vibe check while also making fishing into the entire focus.

At the time, I did some cursory research and found some options, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. There were hyper-realistic games, which sucked the romanticism out of the idea of fishing, along with some very old games that were only playable on machines I don’t own. I was convinced there must be more people like me out there, who have no desire to get seasick IRL but would buy a wholesome fishing game in a heartbeat.

All of this to say I am psyched to see the announcement of Moonglow Bay, an upcoming role-playing game starring a rookie angler. Fishing isn’t just a neat distraction here — it’s the entire premise of the voxel game, according to the game’s description on Steam:

With your journal and rod in hand, explore the furthest reaches of the ocean, from frigid glaciers to boiling geysers, and learn to cast nets, set traps and fish through ice, documenting over 100 varied aquatic species while uncovering the secrets of Moonglow Bay.

It’s like developer Bunnyhug heard my prayers. While there’s an overarching story that alludes to some rare, mystical creatures you can catch, the overall vibe of the game seems much chiller than that. You’ll be concerned with things like cooking your catch of the day, upgrading your boat, and nourishing relationships with the townsfolk. Plus, there’s co-op.

There’s no set release date, but it’s coming to Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X (via Xbox Game Pass) sometime in 2021. Judging by the success of franchises like Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley, and the wider obsession with cottagecore over the last year, there’s clearly a market for more types of slice-of-life games like this.

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