Everything within the seaside city of Moonglow Bay has seen higher days. That consists of you, a middle-aged accountant who’s moved out of the massive metropolis for a contemporary begin. But issues by no means go fairly to plan, do they? The moment-to-moment of Moonglow Bay is a chilled-out expertise of getting out onto the waves, exploring varied biomes, catching fish, and cooking them as much as promote or present to the townspeople. But inside that’s an exploration of issues going awry, and letting go of outdated desires as a way to construct new ones.
The incontrovertible fact that the sport needs to inform its personal story, moderately than let the participant run free, is obvious from the start. The participant character is considerably customisable, however not by way of any type of full creator. Instead, there are 4 appearances to select from. Then, you choose one other of the avatars to be your associate. You can select pronouns for each your self and them, no matter look, however little else.
I (imaginatively) named my avatar Jay, however had I realised what Moonglow Bay was doing, I might have given them an unrelated title. Because the character isn’t designed to be a self-insert. And that’s high quality: it’s what’s not optionally available that’s way more attention-grabbing. In a beautiful show of normative determinism, their surname is all the time Fisher. They’re all the time from the town, and all the time have a 40+ year-long relationship, a grown-up daughter named River, and a canine named Muffin.
From this foundation, Moonglow Bay can dig into its themes. The city was your associate’s residence, and also you’ve returned to fulfil their dream of organising a marine-based road meals stall. But the city is in spoil, all of its residents are afraid of the ocean, and varied (spoilery) occasions imply that organising the enterprise goes to be a lot more durable than the Fishers ever anticipated.
But you’ve got your boat, and you’ve got a rod. You is likely to be an accountant, however you may discover ways to fish. It’s not too troublesome mechanically, simply requiring a little timing to drag in the fitting course. Which is sweet since you’re going to be doing a lot of it. There are totally different bait and lure varieties, however the recreation strikes a good stability, not requiring a lot of memorisation of what you may catch the place and the way. Any info you collect might be collected into your fairly illustrated pocket book for future reference, however there are additionally so many sorts of fish so extensively obtainable that you simply’re prone to run into new and thrilling issues simply by experimenting. You may forged a web to scoop up many small fish directly, or drop a lobster pot and see what crawls in.
When you’re not at sea, you’ll be spending a lot of time within the kitchen. Whipping up varied dishes includes strolling by way of a small set of challenges that blur the road between advanced QTEs and easy mini-games. This is the weaker of the 2 essential parts of the sport. Recipes are more durable to return by than new fish, so the cooking generally begins to really feel samey, and the dishes simply aren’t as attention-grabbing because the promise of pulling up a new vibrant and charming fish design.
Fishing and cooking is essential for making a living, which in flip is essential for bringing the bay again to life. There is a third factor: speaking to, doing fetch quests for, and befriending the locals, however that is extra of a aspect dish. The story focuses in town and exploring the encompassing areas, gated by quests like restoring a sure civic constructing or ensuring that the aquarium is properly stocked with distinctive fish to attract in vacationers. (This is maybe why, regardless of not befriending lots of the locals, I nonetheless have a gentle spot for the Blathers-like aquarium director).
In order to revive the bay, nevertheless, you additionally have to unravel its mysteries. The townsfolk are satisfied that the ocean is stuffed with harmful creatures, and can share these myths with you at any given alternative. As it seems, they don’t seem to be half-wrong. Moonglow Bay is definitely stuffed with strange fish, from a square-bodied little man simply named “Dave” to the bosses scattered across the waters.
The visible designs of those bosses and their related narratives are often fantastic, however the way in which Moonglow applies its regular mechanics to them could be hit and miss. It doesn’t assist that the controls (on PC, not less than) by no means got here to really feel absolutely intuitive for me. For instance, usually Okay is the principle ‘work together’ key. But on the boat, urgent Okay simply enters the cabin (which I did virtually each time I needed to go someplace), and it’s L to drive. Usually it’s not a downside because of Moonglow Bay’s chill tempo, however these counterintuitive moments make for useless additional fuss all the identical.
However, there’s one boss battle that includes a timed puzzle that solely causes stress. Nor is it the one instance. For one other boss, the hitboxes felt barely off all through. Not such a large deal when throwing a web in direction of fleas on the seashore requires you to look away from them, however it turns into problematic when the sport makes you assume which you could’t open a door when you’ve got truly accomplished its related puzzle accurately.
But these small frustrations are quickly forgotten. The recreation’s story retains unravelling in direction of a genuinely tearjerking ending, digging into its themes of neighborhood, resilience, and rebuilding in stunning and constantly attention-grabbing methods. It retains a regular, compelling rhythm, switching between the conventional fishing and cooking to one thing extra dramatic after which again once more. And watching the city slowly come again to life, not regardless of setbacks however constructing on what they depart behind, is gorgeous.
Just yet one more factor: Muffin is a cute canine, however I want I may undertake one of many seals from the northern areas. Give Fisher a actual fishing assistant.