Monster Of The Deep: Final Fantasy XV
With every other genre in existence exploited, only fishing remains. While there’s at least something worth admiring about Square Enix’s ongoing mission to spin FFXV out into seemingly every game type in existence – expansions to the base game have added thirdperson shooter, driving and multiplayer dungeon-crawling modes – Monster Of The Deep shows that sometimes you should just stick to what you know best.
For a start, this is one of the ugliest games on PSVR. It’s not for want of trying; rather, the problem is that Square Enix seems to have ignored the need to lower your ambitions when making games for a technology that has to render each scene twice, once for each eye. While some environments look OK, others are blocky in the extreme, and the screen-door effect is worse here than we’ve seen anywhere else on PSVR.
The fishing itself works well enough – flicks of one Move controller fling the line in your right hand, while your left works the reel. At first, you must catch fish to fill a meter; the bigger the catch, the greater the payoff. Once it’s full, a huge daemon fish emerges, and the rod in your right hand is replaced by a crossbow. Learn its attacks (some charge you; others fire
While there’s little drama to the process of reeling in a daemon – you’ve done the hard work, they’re stunned, and don’t fight back – you can lose a smaller catch if you don’t pay attention to UI prompts while you work projectiles; one clones itself, and only a shot at the ‘correct’ one will damage it), whittle down its health bar then, at the end, reel it in.
Those are the basics, and are enjoyable enough, but nothing more. Square Enix expands – well, pads out – the core action with free-mode and tournament angling, a home base with access to a shop that lets you buy stronger rods and lures for specific catches, and cameos aplently from Noctis and the gang. The prince himself is a keen angler and Prompto’s there for the photos, while Gladiolus insists he’s all about communing with nature, man. While extra fishing modes are meant to drive replay value, the rest of it is pure fan-service set dressing – something that’s made uncomfortably clear when another familiar face turns up (see ‘Tactics ogle’).
It’s all a little rote – something we certainly don’t associate with Final Fantasy. And it’s a glitchy old thing too, with persistent tracking issues even when you’re seated. You’ll suddenly find yourself sat four feet behind your headless in-game torso, arms flailing around at horror-movie angles. The UI frequently gets in the way of the action, while if you play with subtitles, they’ll often appear so close to you that you have to move back in order to read them – once again exposing your headless cadaver. After this was announced at E3, we re-christened it Final Fantasy Batshit Fishing. It turns out that was one syllable too many.