Published on December 9th, 2017 | by Sean Warhurst0
FFXV: Monster of the Deep PSVR Review
Summary: Fishing in VR is actually pretty damn fun, even more so when you add magic crossbows and fish borne straight from the bowels of hell into the equation.
Fish Fin(al) Fantasy
A fishing game isn’t the immediate thing you’d think of when considering potential gameplay directions for titles spun off from the mainline Final Fantasy series; after thirty years we’ve seen more than our fair share of deviations from the established JRPG formula the franchise helped popularise, including forays into real time strategy and even Chocobo racing games, but FFXV: Monster of the Deep truly stands out as an oddity amongst even those initially curious choices.
Essentially the game is what it says on the tin – A measured and peaceful fishing simulation set within the world of Eos from FFXV, albeit with a couple of little twists.
One of the scrapped concepts for FFXV DLC was a PSVR FPS title and, although the development team eventually settled upon the fishing angle (pun totally intended) and elected to release the game as a stand-alone experience rather than additional base game content, certain elements from the FPS prototype still managed to find their way into the core gameplay loop here in Monster of the Deep.
The crux of the story sees your player created avatar embarking upon a quest to hunt down and destroy water dwelling daemons by dropping a line into the water and luring the beasts to your location.
As you catch different kinds of regular fish you’ll attract the attention of aquatic daemons, at which point the game suddenly shifts into first person shooter mechanics and you’re expected to weaken your foe before triumphantly reeling them and watching them spontaneously combust into a cloud of fireworks and fish guts.
You also get a sonar device that can help you pinpoint schools of fish, amongst other functions; the tracking can be more than a little janky at times, with issues discerning between long and short casts being my primary gripe, but for the most part the Move controllers hold up pretty well in terms of accuracy and responsiveness… At least, outside of the menus.
So, yeah, this ain’t your Mama’s fishing game, Son.
Strangely enough, the JRPG quirkiness is actually quite a good fit for a VR experience such as this… I know, who’d thunk it?
The environments are absolutely gorgeous and immersive and coming face to face with characters from the main game was one of those moments that fans really have to experience for themselves.
The sensation of actually being present within the world of Eos is incredibly strong and trumps even that of the recently released Skyrim VR; of course this is due in no small part to the more intimate focus on fishing and shooting mechanics and the enhanced visual and audio fidelity that comes with being able to craft a smaller, self-contained experience.
Unfortunately other elements, such as the lack of free movement, hamper the immersion factor to a degree but, as you’ll primarily be stationary for a hefty chunk of the game, it doesn’t take you out of the game as often as it could.
What DOES break immersion on a pretty consistent basis is the odd decision to use two dimensional flat cutscenes fairly frequently rather than relay most of the pertinent information within the virtual reality environment itself.
With more of a plot than I was expecting from a fishing game, the main campaign will give you around six or so hours of content, but there’s also a handful of free fishing options to explore, with online tournaments in particular bound to be interesting social experiences.
You can earn different rods and lures by going on different hunts but, as with any game, your mileage with the endgame content will vary depending on how much you enjoy the core gameplay of fishing and fighting.
Graphics and Audio
The sound is absolutely terrific here; although the voice acting is on par with that in the main game, so you can still expect the occasional line cheesier than a Hippy’s foreskin, it’s the ambient sounds that really help to sell the locations and sense of place.
It’s corny to admit but the gentle lapping of the waves and the calm, still waterside settings were super relaxing and more than once I was tempted to eschew the mission at hand and just soak up the atmosphere.
However, upon closer examination, that “stillness” also extends to components of the visual environment and it’s definitely a negative quality here. Like, literally, the clouds don’t move. Elements within your immediate vicinity show movement, such as trees and brush reacting to wind, but it’s weird how such a little thing like a complete lack of perceptible cloud movement can, upon noticing it, really pull you out of the experience.
On a positive note, although there is some noticeable foveation even when using the Pro, the graphics are pretty well done and offer a nice facsimile of those found in FFXV, albeit with the expected concessions synonymous with PSVR.
Diving headfirst into the pool of experiences available on PSVR has had me trying out titles from genres I wouldn’t have looked twice at under normal circumstances and, almost without fail, finding that the simple virtue of playing in VR has made these games far more engaging.
FFXV: Monster of the Deep falls squarely into that category for me. Even with the Final Fantasy skin, the concept of actually playing a fishing game makes me drowsier than a cup of tea prepared by Bill Cosby; colour me surprised when I found myself powering through the entire campaign in two sittings.
It’s undeniable though that, at its core, Monster of the Deep is a very simplistic game and this lack of complexity may be an issue for some.
If you dug on FFXV and are looking for some more hang time with Noctis and company AND you have a PSVR set-up, then I’d recommend picking this up and not letting the fact that it’s a FINAL FANTASY FISH-EM-UP deter you, as it’s packed full of little nods to the fans and fishing in VR is actually pretty damn fun, even more so when you add magic crossbows and fish borne straight from the bowels of hell into the equation.
A flawed but fun experience, FFXV: Monster of the Deep is the latest addition to the growing list of VR games more in line with the quality of AA gaming titles rather than tech demos, although the issue many have with the short length of VR titles is one that’s still present here and that will need to be addressed before VR developers can truly earn that final A.
Primary Format – PlayStation 4 (PSVR Required)
Game Genre – Fishing/FPS
Rating – M
Consumer Advice – Fantasy themes and violence
Game Developer – Square Enix
Game Publisher – Square Enix
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst