Sometimes life's just not going so hot, you know? Occasionally a bad day turns into a bad week then turns into a bad month and there may be no end in sight. Maybe your boss is making your life miserable and you just want to get away and escape it all. Then you remember the joy you had as a child when you were out fishing with your dad and you decide to take to the water again to relive those golden days.
That's the premise of Fishing Life, a relaxing game that lets you go at your own pace and fish to your heart's content. This little sports game isn't complicated, but it has a certain addictive quality to it that had me hooked right away. This free-to-play title has already made the list of the best sports games for Android.
"Fishing is to heal the heart" is the official tagline of Fishing Life, developed by Nexelon inc., and that sums up the vibe of the game very nicely. From the relaxing acoustic soundtrack to the ambient wave sounds, Fishing Life just oozes relaxation. After a brief opening cutscene showing our fisherman setting out on his escapist fishing journey, the game dumps you straight into the action. You just walk right out your back door and onto your small fishing boat, which isn't much more than a rowboat with a motor to start with.
The acoustic soundtrack and ambient wave sounds make Fishing Life a very relaxing experience
You have a basic rod and tackle and a limited range that you can venture out onto the water thanks to your subpar craft. Thankfully, the port right outside your house is teeming with all kinds of friendly fishes. You'll start out catching small fries like imps, puffer fish, lovely blue Dory-fish, and more. Mechanically speaking, this game couldn't be easier, you just tap your cast icon to cast your line, holding it down to cast further out. As your line sinks into the water, you can tap the icon to bring your line in just a little or you can hold it down to reel in your unlucky catches.
There's no challenge in reeling in the fish, which is a bummer, but the game works in a bit of finesse in other ways. The waters are so full of life that at a certain point you'll want to cast your line more strategically to position your line near the bigger, better fish, while also tapping and reeling in empty lines when your good bait is suddenly threatened by a worthless fish. If you don't want to pay for bait, there's also some extra effort involved with catching smaller fish to use as bait.
If you don't use fish as bait to catch something better, you can instead elect to carry the fish in your basket and then either sell it for gold or keep it in your aquarium. Both options will net you some cash, which you use to buy bait, lures, rod upgrades, and even bigger boats. It's a timeless, satisfying gameplay loop made all the better by the feeling of exploration in catching new fish to add to your catalog.
You can sell the fish your catch for gold or you can keep them in your aquarium
There's a lot to like about Fishing Life, but there is one big issue to keep in mind: the pervasive ads. The game is free-to-play and includes ads and in-app purchases, and while it's fairly easy to get enough gold for rod upgrades, it's harder to rack up the cash for bigger purchases like new boats. You can get more gold faster by pulling up treasure chests, which open up to a 30-second ad that you must watch to get the cash payout from the chest. Smaller value chests don't include ads, but have smaller payouts to go along with them.
This alone wouldn't be that much of a problem, but in addition to the optional ads from chests, forced ads play every few catches. These are usually shorter ads than what's in the chests, but they still ruin the relaxing mood of fishing, which is the whole point of the game. Plus, there are even more required ads on top of that every time you want to feed the fish in your aquarium.
The deluge of ads seems incredibly excessive, even for a free-to-play game
When you're playing for more than 10 minutes at a time, this deluge of ads seems incredibly excessive. You can purchase the ad-free version of the game for $7.99, but again, that strikes me as a bit steep for a game that is comparatively much simpler than many other premium games that retail for much less. It's not exactly a deal-breaker, but it does damage the game's attempt at a "healing" experience.
That being said, you can still have an enjoyable time exploring the waters, progressively making it further and further out and working your up to eventually massive catches. You can even catch sharks and whales if you make it far enough. Considering that it's free to pick it up and give it a try, I would recommend checking out Fishing Life.