Game: Moonglow Bay
Genre: Adventure, Casual, Indie
System: Steam (Also available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One & Epic Game Store)
Developers | Publishers: Bunnyhug Games | Coatsink
Controller Support: Partial Support
Price: US $24.99 | UK £19.99 | EU € 24,99
Release Date: October 26th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Coatsink.
Journey to Moonglow Bay
Let’s journey to Moonglow Bay and see what it is like. Moonglow Bay is set along the Eastern Canadian coastline during the 1980s. Unlike other games in this genre, you don’t arrive in town to take over your relatives’ land and help the town.
Instead, in Moonglow Bay, you play the part of a rookie angler with a grown-up daughter named River and a dog named Muffin. You’re struggling to fulfil your partner’s final wish by keeping a business afloat in the face of impending bankruptcy. It’s quite a sad opening for a game as your partner has been missing, presumably at sea for three years, and your character pulls themselves out of a depression to fulfil his wish.
You can choose to be a She, They, or He from the very beginning and have a choice of four different character portraits to select. You then have to make a similar choice for your partner, and that’s about it for character customisation. I’d have liked a little more character customisation instead of only having a few characters portraits to choose from.
The primary loop sees you heading out to catch fish, cook them, then sell the culinary results to upgrade your gear and fishing boat to travel further afield. You can work either solo or cooperatively with a friend.
The fishing in the game is quite well done, though I’ve never really found a game where fishing feels just right. You have three fishing methods to start with and a fourth added later. Then, using a rod, pot or fishing net, or harpoon you’ll learn to fish using the correct timing and pulling in the right direction.
Designated Fishing Spot
Out of all the fishing methods to use, throwing the net into the water has to be my favourite way to fish. Throwing the net out into the water and pulling it back, hopefully with a few fish in it is a relaxing way to fish. You can fish at the designated fishing spot around Moonglow Bay or take your boat out into the bay and the surrounding seas to fish from.
Along the way, every fish you catch is documented in your fishing journal, with over 100 varieties of aquatic species to acquire. Better get fishing then! Fish can also be handed into the local museum on Moonglow Bay; similar to other games like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, you help restore the museum exhibition to its former glory.
Fishing on the High Seas
I loved sailing around the bay in the boat, stopping every so often to catch some fish. I love the purr of the engine the boat makes when it moves. If you have an accident with your boat you can get it repaired and upgrade it in the boatyard, for a cost of course.
Lend a Hand
There are many NPC’s in Moonglow Bay. All are willing to talk to you, give you recipe hints and ask for a particular dish to be cooked. You can cook all that you catch in the kitchen of your home. The preparation of food is fun. Washing, cutting, steaming and baking food is all performed by playing a short mini-game where timing comes into play.
With a day and night system, you’ll have to balance your day around that system. Staying up too long means your character feels sluggish and tired, much like the town around her. The town also needs some tender loving care, to patch up the derelict buildings, and there are quests to participate in on the notice board.
Visuals and Controls
The voxel art style of the game is lovely and makes everything a little quaint. I smiled the first time I saw a box-shaped seagull fly over the bay. Finding a charming box-shaped seal out in the sea made me say “Aww” to myself. The music is a treat for the ears as are all the appropriate sound effects in the game.
I did find that the game had some framerate issues on my laptop. After adjusting the settings, the game still flickered which my eyes did not like at all. It also broke up my immersion into the game, as I could only play for short bursts at a time.
It is partially controlled by a controller or you can choose the keyboard controls. Both systems of controls need a little more time cooking in the oven to make them feel a lot more intuitive than they do now.
Moonglow Bay tells a tale of a quaint town, with people afraid to go into the sea mixed with a story about grief. But, it also has lots of feel-good themes of resilience and community spirit. While the game could do with a little more work in some areas, it is still an enjoyable game to play. And the icing on the cake is, yes, you can pet Muffin the dog as many times as you want to!
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot