I like fish, but I don’t like eating them, nor do I have any interest in trying to catch them. Yet when it comes to Moonglow Bay, I’m not only enjoying catching them, but I’m learning more about them, as well as making tasty meals from my catch.
This is a charming, voxel-art lightweight RPG from developer Bunnyhug and published by Coatsink, which sees you take a rookie angler to east coast Canada to restore the fortunes of the rundown town of Moonglow Bay. You open the game by creating your character from a small number of pre-set looks, complete with choice of pronouns. Should a game featuring the ability to choose your own pronouns be something worth having to highlight? No, it should be common place in games where you create your own character, but I’ll applaud Bunnyhug and Coatsink for producing an open and inclusive game.
I chose to create a character looking like an older man, and was given the backstory of my wife going missing while out fishing three years ago. The game started with my character receiving a letter confirming that his wife was now legally considered deceased, with his daughter visiting town to help process the loss.
Whether other characters have different backstories I’m not sure, but the premise is that the town of Moonglow has fallen on hard times since the disappearance of my character’s wife. There are many factors at play, but a sense of gloom has certainly fallen over the town with rumours of monstrous fish terrorising those who brave the waters of the Bay, scaring away tourists and keeping the locals from their daily catch.
It is a simple setup for an adventure which sees a relaxing gameplay loop ensue. Venture out on your boat to catch some fish, cook some delicious looking grub to sell and use your earnings to help the town return to its glory days. Oh, and conquer one or two of those rumoured monsters in a fishing boss fight.
The joy is in the simplicity. You don’t need to be a professional angler in the real world to get a bite on your line. As long as you combine your rod, lure and bait types properly you can shift the odds in the type of fish that you’ll catch and make landing them that much easier. If casting your rod gets tiring you can throw a net or drop off some lobster pots to collect later. It means that you can quickly acquire a plentiful haul to turn into tasty grub.
Cooking itself is a bit of a faff. Each step of preparing a meal requires a QTE event. For instance, chopping your potatoes when making chips requires timing a button press with the several chopping sections on a meter. Washing your fish before cooking requires keeping your analogue stick in a moving zone. Each step when cooking a meal has a similar QTE, and after a while I found myself getting bored. Fortunately, you can batch cook your meals if you have enough of the right fish, but after mastering a meal it still felt a hassle having to repeat the same cycle. Still, I’d rather be making some delicious dishes in Moonglow Bay than dealing with the hassle in the real world.
Away from the kitchen though and the story of Moonglow comes to the fore. You can earn the thanks of the locals by cooking their favourite dishes, learn more about different fish and their habits. by taking them to the aquarium and earning shells (the local currency) by selling meals from your house. As you meet more residents you can spend your hard–earned shells on bringing the local bar back to life, or helping the mayor and his family refurbish different tourist attractions.
Helping the town re-find its mojo is heart-warming, but the true adventure comes in unearthing the rumours of the monster fish. Each requires a different approach or pre-requisite, usually upgrading your boat to take on the challenge of the area you’ll be fishing in. They’re moments which act as an exclamation point on various chapters of the story before you cap off that moment in the story back in town.
I’ve been having a very serene time with Moonglow Bay, and if the thought of a fishing game fills you with horror, have no fear. This is certainly more RPG than fishing simulator, all wrapped up with a wonderful story.
You can find out more about Moonglow Bay here.