IntroductionIce Lakes is a sort of unique beast when it comes to PC gaming; I don't remember the last time I've seen a fishing game on Steam and from what I've played thus far, I'm glad I came across it. The developer, Iceflake Studios, is actually an indie development team so I was genuinely surprised that they were able to throw together a wonderful experience such as this. There are a variety of game modes to choose from for both casual gamers looking for a fun time-waster to a selection of competitive tournaments where the player may find themselves going for the gold.
The game is available on Steam for $14.99.
GameplayLet me just say this right now; even if you don't like fishing games, keep an open mind while contemplating buying this game. Even if the fishing genre isn't for you, this game is actually quite relaxing and surprisingly addicting.
At first, the game will be a little slow considering you have the very limited fishing equipment and it may take a while for you to catch your first fish. This game is about patience, so you as the player may find yourself idling for a bit just waiting to get a bite on your line; this title is all about progression, and, as you may expect, you're not going to be reeling in the big fish until you have upgraded your equipment enough.
Essentially, you and other players (if you're playing multiplayer) explore the map and compete in different fishing competitions (total weight, biggest fish, etc.) and this can be a very fun experience! These games can last anywhere from ten minutes to three hours depending on how long you wish to play. Alternatively, the game offers a "Free Fishing" mode where if you don't wish to be confined to a time period you can simply fish aimlessly and earn some in-game money.
What does this in-game money do, you ask? A lot. To put it simply, you can buy different types of bait, drills, rods and jigs. These items will help you catch more fish of larger sizes and catch fish more frequently and efficiently. Personally, I think the game nailed this aspect just right as it's simply human nature to want the best items so the formula they used in this game is proving to work very effectively (on me at least).
The game offers a pretty large variety of maps too. Honestly, for a fishing game, I wouldn't think that you'd need too many different maps but the variety that this game offers is honestly a bit surprising to me. The game literally allows you to change the time of day or season as well! Just the fact that they have so many customization options, as well as competitions you can partake in both alone or online, is marvelous and I think for a game that was just released recently, they put a lot of care in it.
GraphicsLike I have mentioned earlier, there is a lot of customization you can make to enhance your experience while fishing. While these features are nice and a good inclusion, this does not mean that the graphics are going to be spectacular. During my personal experience, I felt as if the graphics didn't take away from my enjoyment, but I also felt that they were a little too outdated; the only positive thing I can say about them is if you have a lower-end PC, the game shouldn't be hard to run.
The user interface is also designed quite well for a fishing game as it is very self-explanatory to navigate and it just "feels right" for the game. It's very simple to upgrade and see your equipment, it's incredibly simple to start a match and customizing your character is just a click away; there is nothing to complain about in this department.
SoundThe sound elements are really what you'd expect from a fishing game; the soundtrack is relaxing, the sound effects are fitting and they all connect together in a well-balanced harmony. One thing that disappointed me a little, however, is how there is no soundtrack present during the actual gameplay. Sure, the sound effects for your current environment in-game are nice, but it'd be even better if I could listen to the game's soundtrack while fishing.
ControlsThe controls in this title are well-made and suit many play-styles in my opinion. If you're the type of gamer who's used to controlling your character with the WASD keys, this is no problem! Perhaps you're the type who's used to playing games like The Sims and want to move your character by clicking their destination; that's also incorporated into the game too! The fact that this game accomodates for both a hardcore or a casual gamer's style of playing was really surprising to me and I think they nailed the controls almost perfectly.
Unfortunately, with this game's current community, I was not able to do an in-depth review on the multiplayer aspect. Despite how much I tried, it was very difficult for me to find a populated server. I know this isn't the game's fault, but it was rather disappointing to see the lack of a community in such a decent game.
Nevertheless, it was possible to play offline with bot players. Like I have mentioned earlier, there are tons of game modes to pick from, all of which are competitive competitions between you and computer controlled players. Depending on how much you're willing to play, you can have a quick competition or you could extend that time limit to three hours if you really wanted to.
Depending on how skilled you are, you could find yourself winning a lot of cash for upgrades, or failing miserably. Nevertheless, these competitions are actually fairly fun to partake in and I think that it gives you a break from the relaxing gameplay that you'd see elsewhere in the game. Honestly, it wasn't a huge deal that I was unable to find an occupied server as I had just as much fun playing with the bot players! They were most definitely a good challenge for me, kept me on my toes and I truly did have a lot of fun playing against these guys.
Truthfully, I think the game did a great job at creating a great multiplayer environment for the game, however I do have a few concerns about the direction it is headed; my main worry is that someone with the best equipment in the game could easily best another player who is new to the game despite their skill level. I've seen this tactic deployed in many games and, quite frankly, I'm not a huge fan of this approach, but I do have to commend the developer for not adding in-game purchases to the title.
Despite the lack of a community, I think this game is heading in a good direction. When and if people begin playing the online portion of this game, I feel as if it could be loads of fun.
If you have a couple of open-minded friends who aren't afraid to try something new, recommend this game to them; I can almost promise you will have a great time competing in this game, or maybe just having a casual fishing experience.
ConclusionDoes the game have a large community? No. Does it have the best graphics? No. But is it a good game? I can answer that with a most definite yes. I really quite enjoyed the time I had with this game and I think it has the potential to be both a casual, time-wasting game as well as a rewarding, anxiety causing, competitive game. The development team seems very open to criticism and release updates fairly regularly based on community feedback.
Truthfully, if you're looking for a fun, casual experience to waste some time, this is the game for you. I really quite enjoyed the "Free Fishing" mode (fishing with no limitations) as it felt rewarding to reel in a big fish that was worth a lot of money. No matter what your style of gaming is, no matter if you even like fishing or not, I'd have to recommend this game. The sound effects are great, the soundtrack is great (even if you can only hear it on the title screen) and it's a great package for $14.99.
| + Great time-wasting game|| - Lack of an online community|
| + Has the potential to be competitive|| - Graphics are outdated|
| + Rewarding experience|
| + Tons of upgrades|
| + Tons of game-modes|
| + Developer is open to criticism and regularly updates the game|
| + Main menu is incredibly easy to navigate|
| + A bunch of maps to choose from|
| + You can run it on almost any PC|
GAME SCORE: 8/10