Review: Final Fantasy XV: Monster of the Deep
A surprisingly absorbing VR fishing simulator set in the beautifully rendered world of Final Fantasy XV.
A surprising number of people became somewhat addicted to the fishing mini-game when playing through Final Fantasy XV. Developer Square Enix seems to have aimed this title squarely at that crowd, throwing in a generous helping of fan service alongside it.
Monster of the Deep is a virtual reality (VR) fishing videogame. Those who were addicted to titles such as Sega Bass Fishing back in the day may wish to pay attention. Set in the expansive world of Eos, where the main Final Fantasy XV story is set, Monster of the Deep‘s story mode challenges players to take up rod and tackle to hunt down the ‘demon fish’, encountering fishing-mad Final Fantasy XV character Noctis along the way.
The experience starts by offering a surprisingly detailed avatar creation screen, which offers an impressive number of option to customise a character you will only see in pictures. Once your character is created, you are engaged in what was meant to be a relaxing fishing trip, which quickly goes pear-shaped and you need to be rescued by NPC Cindy. From there, you join Noctis and the rest of the Final Fantasy XV boys to travel the world in search of demon fish.
Each fishing spot has a number of regular fish that must be caught in order to spawn the huge, deadly demon fish. You can play with either Dual Shock controller or PlayStation Move controller, each having its own advantages. The Dual Shock offers greater precision, but the PlayStation Move offers increased immersion and is more intuitive, as you make a casting motion with the right Move controller to land your line in the water and the left to reel it in. Once the little fish have been caught, purple fog rolls in and the demon fish appears. At this point the title briefly transforms into a shooter as you need to weaken the beast with your exploding crossbow bolts.
The graphics of Final Fantasy XV were always fairly impressive, but in VR they look stunning. Everything is richly detailed and carefully designed, presenting something that does look like a fully fleshed-out world. There are occasional visual glitches, which can disrupt immersion. The sounds is crisp, the dialogue well-performed and the music shows the typical Square Enix flair.
The major disadvantages of Final Fantasy XV: Monster of the Deep is is repetitive nature. Though there is entertainment to be had from the title, there is little to compel players to return to the title once the story campaign is complete. Though the title offers other modes, such as the Tournament Mode where players compete against other Final Fantasy XV characters to catch the biggest fish, or Hunt Mode where players track down rare fish. For a more zen experience, there is Free Fishing mode, which has no goals or missions, just a relaxing VR fishing simulator. The current unavailable competitive mode may also offer a reason to return to the title.
Final Fantasy XV: Monster of the Deep is one of the best-looking PlayStation VR titles currently available. Its possible to waste quite a lot of time simply taking in the scenery. The title also uses the limitations of the PlayStation VR cleverly, by letting players sit facing the camera most of the time, it eliminates most of the tracking issues the PlayStation VR is known to have. Though far from a deep experience, Final Fantasy XV is surprisingly absorbing, and can chew up an impressive amount of time, despite its slightly repetitive gameplay.