In a world of gritty games where paranoia, blood, and violence rule the day, it is nice to know that there are still some developers holding down the fort of adorable games. These little tastes of cute are a welcome respite from the usual cynical offering and help round out a gamer’s palette. Adorable games are like a sorbet between courses of Call of Duty and Bioshock Infinite. Purveyors of the cute on the iOS, Halfbrick Studios, have a new offering meant to melt your heart and exercise your fingers. It’s a little game called Fish Out Of Water and it is all about fish flinging. But, does it stand up to their other phenomenal offerings? Does Halfbrick have another hit on their hands, or has the fish been out of the water too long and is starting to stink?
Unless you’d been living under half a brick for the past few years, then you may not know that the studio behind Fish Out of Water is no novice at developing for the iOS and have seen wild success with their other titles like Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja. That being said, Fish Out Of Water should be a smorgasbord of cleverness and cute.
From the moment you tap open the game, you know that the developers have the cute factor dialed up to 11. The whole game is simplistically, but sumptuously, covered in a layer of technicolor. It really forces itself right off that screen and into your face. It looks more like a coloring book come to life than a game. The fish have unbearably big and expressive eyes and each have an array of sound effects that can make even the most hardened biker squeal.
Fish Out Of Water is essentially a stone skipping game. But, instead of stones, you have to snatch a fish that was minding his own business and toss him across the screen as fast as your finger can carry him. You rack up points by how far the little guy makes it and by how many times he bounced up into the air. You’re scored after three throws by an assortment of colored crabs with their own personality.
That was the simple explanation. As it always is with the best games, there is always a little more going on under the surface. Each of the fish you have to choose from has different aero and hydrodynamic properties based on their shape. The more pointed fish require a more shallow trajectory in order to skip across the sea. The rounder and more oval shaped fish can be flung higher and skip much easier. Also, there are assorted tasks you can complete to level up and gain crystals that can be used to grant power ups.
The more interesting part of the game is the evolving weather mechanic. At the top right of the screen is a little weather forecast that will tell you what will be happening within the next hour. The wind and the sea changes along with the background. Each new weather offering provides a bit of variety on the gameplay. You have to adjust tactics for skipping based off of wave height and frequency. It keeps things interesting in a game where your only objective is tossing fish around.
As is usual with many high score games, you can connect to social media and share your scores with friends. But with Fish Out Of Water, you can even join leagues and compete together for that almighty high score. It brings a bit of friendly competition to an otherwise single player experience. (Join our league: arcadesushi).
For all of it’s adorable aesthetic and more than adequate gameplay, Fish Out Of Water feels a bit lacking. I know it is a repetitive styled game based around a high score, but I couldn’t help but feel it was missing something. It has great personality, well rounded gameplay, and enjoyable sounds, but I couldn’t help but feel that Halfbrick could do a bit better to elevate the game from adorable trifle to something truly great.
Although the weather changed the sea and how the fish skipped, it didn’t change it quite often enough to shake me out of my comfort zone. The challenges were enjoyable, but they quickly became grindy and repetitive. Tossing a fish x amount of total meters feels like more of a chore than a goal. Maybe with some updates, they’ll be adding a bit more content. It would be fantastically fun to be able to skip not just along the water, but bounce off of seagulls. It just seems to me like a little bit more creativity could be injected into the goals and gameplay to tip Fish Out Of Water over the edge and into the lovely land Halfbrick’s other two titles reside in.
Gripes aside, Fish Out Of Water is a good game with a lot of personality. Halfbrick took a simple idea and filled in some of the empty spaces with adorable animals, addictive gameplay, and fantastic artwork. I just there were a little more meat on the bones of this fish to make him less of an appetizer and more of an entree.