For some people, fishing is an absolute joy. There's an almost meditative quality to simply sitting out on the lake, casting your line, and enjoying the tranquility of nature until the excitement of a fish taking the bait occurs, and then it's a rush of adrenaline. Add in a couple of cold beverages, and you have a pretty good recipe for a relaxing summer day.

This is a difficult experience to translate to video games. Sure, a bunch of games have definitely had fishing as a side quest or mechanic, but rarely is it the main focus. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure demonstrates why that is, as a game that's devoted to simply waiting for things to happen can be quite dull, no matter how much crafting, and visual novel elements you throw in.

The Epic Fishing Saga Begins!

The story of Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure is an odd one, but considering they're trying to shove a narrative into a fishing game at all, it's not surprising that the resulting plot would be a little strange. You play as a trio of university students who are all members of the school fishing club )which is definitely the most niche after school activity that I've ever heard of). While stressing out over what subject to make their club project about - which already is weird, because since when do you have projects for extracurricular activities? - they go to a museum and come across a mysterious painting for something called "The Elusive Fish." They're so entranced by the painting, that they decide to do their report about it. Unfortunately, the painting was done by an unknown artist.

Well, as luck would have it, said unknown artist happens to be in that very museum, and invites the three to his small town where he runs a bait shop. Oh, and I should mention that his name is Mr. Shopman, because he is a man who owns a shop, of course. He then explains that he's in the process of cleaning up the local lakes and rivers in hopes that The Elusive Fish will re-emerge, presumably so he can catch and eat it. In exchange for the kids' help, he offers to put them up in an RV and pay them to help clean the area, as well as catch fish.

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It is a very silly story. It also makes me wonder about this school that they go to, as they're able to completely ditch every other class in favor of hanging out in some podunk town, sleeping in an RV, and fishing. Is their fishing club the only thing they're in school for? Is it the only class they have this semester? It's apparently summer, so maybe they're on vacation? But then, they talk about upcoming exams and projects, so maybe they have summer classes? It's all very confusing.

The students themselves are pretty much just archetypes, with there being a jock, a nerd, and a girl whose defining trait seems to be that she's a girl. They aren't really all that fun to hang around either, as they're all kind of jerks to each other, throwing various jabs like this one:

I'd hate to be a member of this fishing club, as their meetings seem to devolve into exchanges straight out of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

That being said, the story does also have some intriguing supernatural elements involving Mr. Shopman which kept me playing. It goes some weird places, but I was hoping it would veer into some Doki Doki Literature Club territory where things got really messed up. It just never quite gets there, unfortunately.

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You Like Fish, Right?

The main crux of the game is that Mr. Shopman will direct you to a body of water, and then tell you what kind of a fish he wants you to catch and how big it should be. You then go to that fishing hole, make sure you have the right bait, and fish away. You cast your line, you reel it in. Then, you cast again, and reel it in. Eventually, a fish will bite. You then reel that fish in, with occasionally the odd quicktime event to spice things up, and once that fish is caught, you continue the process until 3PM, which, in this world, is when it gets dark. For the most part, this is pretty much the entire game.

It's not terribly exciting, and even if you're a fan of fishing, I doubt this is going to resemble the feeling of actually being out there on the open water. There's just not a lot of variation in the actual fishing mechanics. You also pretty much have to fish until 3PM, because catching a bunch of fish is how you get money in order to buy supplies. So, even if you've caught the right fish, the smart move is to just stick it out until the time is up to maximize your earnings, which is a real slog.

Aside from the fishing, there are some very rudimentary crafting, cooking, and RPG mechanics. Each one of the students has a job that they perform. Sean is your main fisher, and you'll level up his stamina and fishing abilities. Neil's job is mainly to clean up the surrounding area of garbage because he apparently drew the short straw on this trip. He then uses that trash to somehow craft the various lures you'll need to catch fish, as well as better reels and rods for you to use. Finally, there's Alice, who seems to just be there to cook. She'll make your dinner, which will give you a stat boost for the next day of fishing. She'll also make snacks that will help recover your stamina. These snacks somehow include energy drinks that she can create using bread, which is a secret I wouldn't mind learning.

These elements are not very in-depth, and you basically just plug in the skill points you get as the days go on to unlock more options that also need to be unlocked by crafting.

Nature Is Boring

Honestly, the fishing might have been more bearable if the scenery was breathtaking, but instead, it all blends together. The graphics aren't anything to write home about, with a bunch of bland-looking rocks, trees, and other bits of nature taking up the room on your screen. You'd think for a game that's heavily centered around water they would have developed some pretty great water graphics, but you can't even see the fish under the surface, and the water physics are nothing special.

The story bits themselves are told in a visual novel style, and the anime portraits for each character are fine. They have a couple of variations for different reaction shots, but there's only a few, so you'll probably cycle through every one of them by the time you're past the first cutscene. In the sound department, there's only a couple of music tracks, and they're so generic and inoffensive that they could be used as background music in a doctor's office or an elevator. Plus, they don't even play during the actual fishing, leaving you to listen to nothing else but stock nature sounds.

Not Enough To Lure Me In

Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure isn't a great fishing game. There are some good elements in here that could make for one, but nothing is really all that fleshed out. The fishing is kind of basic and easy, and the RPG and crafting elements are barely there. The story takes some interesting turns, and there are some pretty bizarre scenes, but I think it should have gotten even weirder. At least if the tale got crazy I'd have something to recommend about it.

That being said, I don't know of many other fishing games out on the market right now, and I definitely don't know of many that actually offer some form of plot. So, if you can't buy or rent a boat, and you're desperate to do some angling, I'd say you could try out Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure. Otherwise, you should probably stay on dry land.

2 out of 5 Stars

A review copy of Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure was provided to TheGamer for this review. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure is available on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and PC.

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