Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia Review
This review after the Introduction section will have spoilers, but I will try not to spoil the ending of the game. I recommend playing this game and experiencing everything this game has to offer on your own before or instead of reading this review.
Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia is a game created by Bryce Bucher, the creator of Fatum Betula, and ported to the Nintendo Switch by Baltoro Games. Just like Fatum Betula, it was quite cheap on the Nintendo eShop. At the time I picked it up, it was on sale for $1.99 USD.
Quite a few games have a fishing portion, like the fishing hole in Ocarina of Time. This game is essentially if you turned the Ocarina of Time fishing hole into an entire game. The graphics for this game are very similar to Fatum Betula and look/feel like something from the PlayStation 1.
Game Content Warning
Upon starting up the game, you will be asked if you want to see the content warnings of the game. If you select "Yes", you will be shown the following content warnings:
- Flashing Lights
For a little bit of context, Thalassophobia is the fear of deep water, usually in the ocean or a lake, and Trypophobia is the disgust or fear of closely packed holes. You may have seen clickbait ads at the bottom of some news or recipe websites that use manipulated images of hands or tongues with holes in them and possibly round seed-like objects inside of some of the holes.
The flashing lights and trypophobia warnings are specifically for the ending of the game only. The trypophobia warning is for a single image that kind of pulsates. After that part of the ending, there is a scene where the screen flashes. The thalassophobia warning is especially relevant to immediately before the ending of the game starts.
Upon starting the game, it will be daytime and you will be at a campsite. You are holding a fishing pole with a smiley face fishing lure, which you will use to catch fish. In your inventory, you will have a book that keeps track of which types of fish you have caught.
If you try to interact with the tent at the campsite, it will mention that it's not late enough to sleep, so you may as well try catching some fish until night time.
When trying to catch fish, the fish will fight back and can break free if you pull in your line too much. A sound plays when the line gets too tight and is about to break. Some fish don't put up much of a fight while some fight essentially the entire time.
You will notice that the fishing line doesn't go all that far down into the water and you can't cast your line all that far. There are all kinds of fish you just can't get to early on in the game.
Eventually, night time comes, so you can check out the tent at the campsite. From a distance, you can see smoke coming from the campsite. As you get closer, you will see a fire is lit and a stranger (that reminds me a bit of Dr. Robotnik from Sonic) is sitting at the campsite.
Turns out this stranger will buy fish you have caught and will sell you new fishing poles and lures. These new poles and lures are the key to catching once unobtainable fish. He will also give you little hints and tidbits when you talk to him. The key gameplay of this game is catching fish, selling them to this stranger, getting new lures and poles, catching more fish, selling them to this stranger, getting new lures and poles, rinse and repeat.
Yes, that's the entire gameplay of this game.
There are also a shed kind of close to the campsite where you can cook fish meals. These meals will increase your luck for what fish will spawn next. The spawn a new set of fish throughout all areas of the game, you can either fall asleep in the tent at night until morning or exit out of the game and start the game up again. There are a total of 32 fish, some which are much more rare than others.
There is an ending to this game, and over time while playing it, it should become a bit more obvious what is required to finish this game.
This game is definitely not for everyone. Some folks would get bored of this style of gameplay. With that said, I absolutely ADORED this game! The atmosphere and music were unsettling and made feel very uneasy throughout my entire 5-ish hour playthrough of the game.
You'd think that a game where you just catch fish to sell to be able to catch more fish would get repetitive, but I felt like the sense of progress was perfectly paced out. Every new piece of kit felt like the right price to make sure I could keep progressing forward rather than just grinding. Sure, you "could" grind using the early game fish locations if you wanted to, but the game doesn't require that at all.
I didn't know that I wanted a game that was just the fishing hole from Ocarina of Time. I'm glad it was Bryce Bucher that provided the world with this experience.
The type of person I would recommend this game to are folks who enjoy slow paced atmospheric games, especially experimental games.