What springs to mind when you think of the afterlife? Is it a peaceful, relaxing place? A space that allows someone to take their time, meet friendly people and take part in an activity they enjoy? The heaven depicted in the new Switch game Fishing Paradiso takes that approach. While it can be relatively simple, it’s also soothing and best approached at someone’s own pace.
The game begins with the player approaching an amorphous form in space. You died! But it’s okay, because you’re in heaven. Which initially is a small island in a relaxing ocean with a bird companion by your side. What comes next is finding a way to get settled, make some friends, and learn more about your past life and current one. All while you fish, of course.
The first reason Fishing Paradiso works so well is that it doesn’t try to insert any gimmicks into its fishing mechanics. You move the directional pad left or right to choose where you’ll cast. You press one button to cast. You press that same button to hook a fish. While there’s no audible cue, there is a very clear visual one. When you reel a fish in on the Switch in Fishing Paradiso, you clearly see the current tension and can gauge the distance from your avatar. It’s simple and works well. If you get a coin bonus, it even makes it more profitable.
It’s also clear when it comes to keeping track of what you catch. When you go to an area, it immediately shows if the fish you need are there. A blue shadow means it is one needed for a campaign quest. A red one means you should catch it for a side quest. While the aiming mechanic isn’t the most precise, most movement patterns mean you have a pretty good chance of only attracting the fish you’re trying to catch. It alleviates saves a lot of time. Which is helpful, since otherwise it could feel like busywork going for X number of Y fish. Some tedium does creep in after a few hours of play. This is because you might need a specific rank of fish, and waiting to finally get it
I also appreciated how Fishing Paradiso’s upgrades feel tangible. You get coins from catching fish or completing quests. This can be used to upgrade five areas. These are Big Hunter, Charm, Stamina, Tension, and Throw. Every one has four “bars” to invest in before you can pay for a big upgrade to a higher tier. When you do that, the icon associated with that stat changes to indicate the change in power. When this happens, the improvement is substantial. However, this does mean that the fishing itself is more simplistic than in other games. Rather than acquiring things like new rods, reels, lures, or bait, you’re relying on general improvements.
There’s not only a sense of progression with the story, fishing spots, and stats. It’s also present with regards to characters and relationships. You build up friendships via quests. You see people from Bear’s Restaurant. There’s continuity here. Yes, some lines read awkwardly or feel clipped. But it is still an amusing, charming, and generally solid localization. These folks have personality.
Charming is also a good way to describe its art. Fishing Paradiso involves some pretty pixels! Some character designs may be simple, but they’re effective. You aren’t exploring huge areas, but there’s undeniable ambiance in each one. You’d expect Heaven to be a pleasant enough place and, sure enough, this game’s vision of it is.
Fishing Paradiso isn’t the fishing game for folks who want something technical or realistic. It’s the one you get if you like fishing in Animal Crossing or Story of Seasons. Which is fine, because a lot of people could probably use that kind of game. It is simple and sometimes not the most polished, but it is enjoyable.
Fishing Paradiso is available for the Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile devices.