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Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy 15 is a fishy use of VR

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Don’t bother reeling in this VR experience

The Final Fantasy 15 universe continues to expand in some ... curious directions, and the upcoming PlayStation VR title Monster of the Deep may be the most curious of all. A demo I checked out during Tokyo Game Show suggested that this might be the flimsiest Final Fantasy 15 spinoff yet — and certainly the fishiest.

You’ll have to pardon that obvious pun here. Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy 15 is essentially a VR fishing experience. Playing as a nameless, faceless friend of the main game’s dudes, I embarked upon a quest given to me by my best boy Prompto. The quest was a simple one, and likely a tutorial-level one: Catch three fish. Any three fish. Just catch ‘em and drop ‘em in the bucket.

The actual fishing was frustrating. Monster of the Deep uses the PlayStation Move controllers to simulate hands. I gripped my rod with one, jerking my arm back and forward to actually cast a line. But the controls aren’t very precise. It was hard to direct my throw, so that I often sent my hook out far, far away. Without any bites, I’d have to reel the line back in with my free hand. It was a repetitive action that was tedious, slow and, after awhile, a little painful.

When there’s a fish on the hook, Monster of the Deep gets a bit challenging. The fish will fight back, making the Move controllers rumble with each getaway attempt. But even those were infrequent and easy to prevent by tilting the controllers in the opposite direction.

Doing this three times in a row was a chore. I didn’t love fishing in the main Final Fantasy 15 much, but I’d rather spend the 30 seconds to play that simple minigame than fish for 15 minutes with a VR headset and a physical requirement.

The saving grace of Monster of the Deep is its eponymous monster, which appeared at the quest’s end and completely changed up the gameplay. My fishing rod became a crossbow of all things, which was an unexpected change of pace. I pulled the Move controller’s trigger to shoot and kill a gigantic fish before it could attack me. A brisk fight, this monster boss battle especially benefitted from VR, as the fish would jump out of the water and leap for my face at every opportunity.

Maybe a virtual reality take on the Final Fantasy 15 world would have felt a little bit more exciting last year, when Square Enix originally expected it to launch. But this belated, non-essential fishing game already seems washed up, at least based on my time with it. At least it will be available as a free download when it launches on Nov. 21.

And hey, here’s hoping that, should the development team want to take another stab at VR after this, Noctis’ Crossbow Training is on the list.