A time-honored part of any self-respecting RPG is the presence of minigames. Sea of Stars is no different, and in the tens of hours I have spent with the game before its release I have found myself ignoring the high-stakes quest and taking a stroll down to the nearest fishing hole and casting out my line.
Amongst minigames, I strongly believe that the fishing minigame is king. Can a great RPG be measured by the greatness of its fishing minigame? Is there a correlation between how good Fire Emblem: Three Houses is and how good its fishing minigame is? We may never know the answer. But I do know that the fishing mini-game in Sea of Stars is good.
Within the first few hours of Sea of Stars, once I was able to explore the world map, I quickly happened upon the game’s introductory fishing hole — Sunglow Lake — and immediately knew that I was about to spend hours of my life in pursuit of catching every water-based creature in this roughly 30-hour RPG.
I was right.
As a connoisseur of the fishing minigame one of my biggest gripes with most game’s implementation of the activity is that they make it too easy. Fishing is often a quick two-button interaction. Cast the line, wait until a fish bites, then hit a button to automatically reel in the fish. But the best fishing minigames add complexity to the system.
In a controversial (yet correct) opinion, I believe the best fishing minigame in recent memory to be Stardew Valley’s. While it has a reputation for being difficult to understand and erratic to the point of frustration, I believe that it teaches the player patience and determination. Fishing isn’t about instant gratification, it's a waiting game that culminates in a heated battle against a sea monster! This is what fishing in Sea of Stars is like.
Catching a fish in Sea of Stars follows this loop. First, you cast your line and aim it towards shadows of fish in a given body of water. Second, you reel it in until a fish bites and is hooked onto the line. Third, you reel in the fish trying to keep it inside a lit-up path in the water while the fish tries to break the line. Finally, once you reel it into your place at the dock you have caught your fish. Every catch is a hard-fought battle that you won.
Fish are also useful in the larger game, as you can use them to cook hearty meals that heal party members in combat. If you’d rather fish just for the joy of the pastime then you can choose to release your catch back into its watery home.
Fishing holes are peppered throughout the world, with each major island offering new fish to catch. There are plenty of fish in Sea of Stars, and to keep track of them all each fishing hole has a helpful sign that lists every variety available to catch and will display it once you have caught it at least once.
Various species of fish behave differently, and some are extremely strong — to the point of constantly breaking the line. Despite the amount of time I have sunk into this minigame there are still fish I haven’t managed to beat, and that makes the effort all the more worth it. Maybe I should get back to saving the world at some point, but there are still plenty of fish in the sea for me to catch.