Thinking outside the box has never been more literal in VR.
Areas like the Indie Arena Booth in Gamescom 2018 can be a veritable hive of undiscovered talent, with small developers looking to showcase their work amongst the hustle and bustle of a tightly packed crowd. One virtual reality (VR) developer doing just that was Innerspace VR – the studio behind Firebird: La Peri – which is currently working on a bit of a mind-bending puzzle experience called A Fisherman’s Tale.
Certainly going in a different direction to its previous immersive content, A Fisherman’s Tale is a multiplatform experience that was being demoed on Oculus Rift. The story goes that you play a lighthouse keeper named Bob. Living quite happily in his little cabin Bob suddenly hears a storm warning over the radio and needs to rush to the top of the lighthouse and switch it on. However, all is not what it seems.
A Fisherman’s Tale starts off fairly innocuously, putting you inside a fairly compact cabin which has a table in the centre with a model of the lighthouse plus various other items dotted around the perimeter. This room is the first chapter – and the only one being demoed – with each subsequent chapter essentially following an escape room style design.
Yet this is no ordinary lighthouse, or cabin it seems, as if coming from one of the pages of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, once a couple of puzzles have been solved things begin to turn a little surreal. Not in a bright colourful or twisted way like Alice’s Lullaby, more just a play on scale and Bob’s place in reality.
After opening a blocked window and taking the roof off of the model you’ll then find you can access the same room you’re in, just as a larger version of yourself. You know when you put two mirrors in front of one another and you get that infinite repetition, well it’s kind of like that. The puzzles then utilise this to great effect by having you either take tiny items out or resize larger objects.
There’s a point at which you have to help a very talkative crab which Innerspace VR explained would continue through each level, just with a different character and possible central puzzle mechanic change. The studio also mentioned that depending on a player’s experience, there would be a couple of modes available. One would give you no help whatsoever, while the other would give out hints and tips after a certain duration to keep the gameplay and narrative moving.
The narrative plays an important part in this puzzle adventure as there’s a lot of talking going on as Bob tries to figure out what the hell is going on. Much in the same way as Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives, A Fisherman’s Tale is very much a grab everything kind of title, with the room-in-a-room feature elevating it above others.
Even with this brief demo A Fisherman’s Tale offers an enticing concept and novel change to the usual puzzle mechanic found in VR. Featuring a charming visual design all the mechanics have been created to be accessible for players of all ages.