Fishing: Barents Sea Review

There’s an unequivocal trend these days to bring anything and everything to the Nintendo Switch. And I for one am all for it. But as ports like The Witcher 3 make us marvel at how the developers managed it on a technical level, other games make us question whether they should be ported in the first place. Often the compromise for portability is too much and unfortunately this is the case with Misc Games’ Fishing: Barents Sea.

The opening moments reveal heavily compressed textures, lackluster water (a crime for a sim about fishing), and a chugging frame rate hovering in what feels like the low 20s at the best of times. The tiny text, unscaled menus, and lack of articulation on what all the icons even do start to quickly exasperate one’s senses. And when you take a second to look at the PC version, the contrast is stark, making you wonder if the immersion is better on that side of the fence.

Learning to Fish

Gameplay-wise your opening hours are dedicated to learning the ropes. They start you out relatively simple. There are a few fishing methods like longline, trawling and net. You get a small fishing boat and start with the longline to use to ensnare your prey. You work your way up to the other methods later. The game then goes through the motions of what the loop is for fishing out in these parts.

Once you find an area where fish hang out, first you set your line. Then you pass some time, maybe travel somewhere), then come back to your line, reel it in, and then play a button press mini-game to catch the fish. You then get the joy of gutting said fish with a terribly awkward joystick maneuver. No matter how I tried, I could not keep the knife straight with the Switch’s tiny joysticks, often resulting in a poorly butchered or wasted fish.

Once you’ve done all this work, it’s time to haul your bounty over to the fish market where you can sell for a profit. Now there are different kinds of fish and each have their own spec price. So the better you know which fish are in demand, the better the money. More money means cooler boats.

fishing barents sea top

Sounds okay but in practice it all boils down to a heavy grind of you dropping lines, traveling away to kill hours, coming back, etc. And that never changes. To put some salt on the wound in order for you to fast travel places you must first sail your boat to an area manually. You take a little boat that can do about 8 knots and make it travel many, many virtual miles and well, I hope you have a podcast to listen to. There are other problems abound with the clunky controls of the boat throttle, the unnecessary third person and first person switches, and a fast travel system that refuses to figure out how to get around a piece of land by itself.

So in summary, if you’re someone who can get lost in a repetitive task, then I will say you may find yourself falling into a trance,  an almost zen-like state. But maybe do so on PC if you have one available to you. I could not get into Barents Sea on the tiny screen with its muddy and bare world. And I would advise if Switch is your only way to play it, maybe find another ocean to travel.

*** Switch code provided by the publisher ***