Preview: Catch & Release – A Fisherman’s Delight

Fishing is a popular pastime the world over, sitting by the banks of a river rod in hand as you try to attach bait to the hook before casting off. Proper anglers go out in all weathers, rain or shine, huddled round a warm brew waiting for a nibble. For those that like the leisurely idea of fishing; but none of the waiting round or wrestling a wiggling worm onto their line, then that’s where virtual reality (VR) comes to the rescue, more specifically the upcoming launch of Catch & Release from Metricminds.

Catch and Release Menu

Showcasing the current build of Catch & Release on an Oculus Rift during the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2018 recently, the videogame is exactly what fishing fans want from this type of experience.

Rather than being shore bound with various fishing points dotted around the outside of a lake you’re in the middle, or rather in a boat with the freedom to go where you dam well please. So not to scare the little fishes away and to add that extra level of interactive immersion you’re in a rowing boat. Which quite frankly is awesome just by itself, just chilling out having a row about the lake is quite serene, with a nice natural movement to the oars and boat.

After finding that perfect spot it was time to get down to the serious business of fishing. The demo didn’t offer much in the way of options, there was a piece of bait to attach to the hook – the developers did say more would be available in the full version – and just one rod. Just like real casting, it takes a few attempts to get the hook a decent distance away from the boat, having to hit the trigger button just at the right point of the swing to launch the line then keeping it held to let the reel unwind.

Catch and Release Camera

Then it’s time to sit back and wait for the fish to come. Catch & Release is a seated experience so having a reasonably comfy chair is always good, and it’s not long before the fish come biting. Once on the hook it’s time for the fun to begin, with your spare hand ready to wind in the line. While very much an arcade style of play, there’s no quickly snatching the fish out of the water or the line will break. The fish needs to be worn down, swimming from left to right the technique is all about keeping that line fairly taught. While there’s no resistance with the Oculus Touch controllers the battle still feels very much genuine, with a beaming sense of satisfaction after reeling that first fish in.

Different fish will net various amounts of cash to spend on more equipment in the store which just so happens to be a handy book left in the boat. The vessel also features a radio if some tunes are needed and there’s some virtual sandwiches if your digital self gets hungry.

With so many high action shooters and adventure titles for VR it can be nice to slow things down a peg or two, and Catch & Release does exactly that. There’s some beautiful looking scenery to enjoy whilst bobbing up and down in the water, prepping the next hook. So long as there’s a decent amount of content and gameplay varying options; fish to catch, hooks, bait, locations, then catch & Release could well shape up to be one of the best VR fishing videogames.