The Catch: Carp & Course Review (PS4)
The Catch: Carp & Coarse is the new fishing game from Dovetail Games. While Dovetail Games are well known, and their Euro Fishing was well-received (see our review), this is the first fishing game I have managed to get my hands on. As a keen fisher myself I wanted to see if virtual fishing could scratch that itch.
The game puts you on the hunt for, as you can guess by the name, mostly coarse fish. I say mostly as there are some trout to be caught and, to me, trout will always firmly be in the game fish category. But their inclusion is welcome, especially on my favoured location in the game – Loch Mickle. The game gives you 5 locations in total; Loch Mickle (Scotland), Oxlease (linear Fisheries), the River Ebro (Spain), the Pearl Lake (Malaysia), and inner-city fishing in Rotterdam (Netherlands). Each location has its own challenges and species that can be caught, as well as all having their own boss fish that you can target. The game comes with a whopping 35 targetable species of fish, far more than I am likely to catch in the real world for now.
Let’s start off with how the game looks. Each location has been recreated to look as close to the location in the real world. While background textures and draw distance are not fantastic; they are very well done for this type of game. The lighting and weather effects stand out for me.
Where the game really shines though in the looks department is in the water effects and in the fish animation. Each fish has its own movement style, which you can see in the way they fight on the line. But it’s when you finally land one that you can see the work that’s been done to lovingly recreate these fish in-game. I will state here that the game does suffer from some longer load times, but it beats waiting on the banks all day to catch nothing! It’s also not a huge game for your HDD space, coming it at only 21 GB. In a world of 80+ GB games, this was a pleasant surprise.
Bait and Tackle
Let’s talk bait and tackle. You start out with a pretty decent 3 rod set up. I like to run one on the bottom, one on a floating cast and then run a spin bait on my third. That has you are covering all bases. Does this always work? No.
Each location and each fish will have things they like and will take, and stuff they’re not so keen on. An example of this is the shallow sections of Loch Mickle, which have rocky bottoms. The key here is to pay attention to this and run a bait type that would be found here, and on a short drop shot line for greatest impact. This took me quite some time to work out, and quite a few trips into the tackle menu to change my baits.
The three-rod system is nice as you can work from predefined three rod set ups, or you can create your own; Picking rod type, reel type, hook type and bait type, allowing a crazy amount of customisation in what you’re casting out. The game has hundreds of options from over 20 big name real-world fishing companies, such as Nash and Mainline Baits. The game handles all this by letting you buy new equipment and bait by spending in-game currency (TP). You earn TP for every fish you catch.
Now onto the fish. The game has 35 species as I said above, but where the game shows up others is the continuation of Dovetail Boss fish. There are 125 boss fish for you to go after, including 11 monster boss fish to be found. And they are not easy to find at all. In all of my sessions for this review, I am yet to find one.
They all have their own locations of where they like to reside, and are also as fussy as a toddler on what they want to eat! These fish make you work to find them, and from what I have seen from others, make you work harder to land them. The Catch: Carp & Course has a great tutorial on landing a fish, something I suggest doing. Once mastered, landing is pretty close to real life for spin baits and floats. You will have to set the hook (super intuitive) and how well you do this will affect how well a fish is hooked. A bad hook set could see you lose a fish so take the time to master this skill (just like real life).
Fighting a fish, depending on fish size, can be nice and easy, or a battle for the ages. The consistent adjusting of your reel gear and line drag is a must if you hope to keep the fish on. And don’t think just because you have that fish a few feet out, that it won’t go running again if you let the line off. Because it will. The landing of a fish in this game is super satisfying. If only I could find a boss fish myself to feel the fight from those.
The game has multiple modes: Fishing trip is the basic fishing mode, letting you choose your location and what tackle set you want to use, before letting you pick your peg in the location; be it bank or boat. The Event mode lets you fish in a tournament with different parameters you set against the AI (named after some big names in fishing). Finally, multiplayer is just that. You vs others online for bragging rights or, in my case, not to be last. There is also the DFL, short for Dovetail Fishing League. This is Dovetails new online league setup, allowing you to fish against the rest of the world for glory online. They are even offering real-life prizes if you’re top of the league.
This brings me to my few slight tiny problems with The Catch: Carp & Course. The first being the need to sign in to Dovetails online system before you play. This can be a bit of a pain if you just want to play out on the water. But it’s now a standard across all Dovetail games.
The second is the bugginess (at least at time of writing) of fishing from a boat. Casting from a boat can occasionally end up with your avatar glitching out, casting the line into himself, and then having them facing the other direction from their arms. While not game-breaking in any way, and a quick reset of the cast fixing it, I thought it was worth mentioning. I’m sure it will be patched out at some stage. They have just patched in 60 fps on consoles, so I hope that the issues may be fixed soon.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, is the catch worth your time? In short yes, very much so at the current cost of £20 on PC and consoles. The game is 100% worth it if you enjoy fishing, even a little bit. It’s fantastic to stick on when you just can’t get out on the water in real life. And it also has the same addictive quality that real fishing has in the hunt for the boss fish. You would be hard-pressed to find a better example of virtual fishing at the moment.
8 pesky pike out of 10