Final Fantasy XV has grown in some notable and unexpected ways since it first launched last November, but the most bizarre project to spring from the RPG is Monster of the Deep, the upcoming virtual reality spin-off for PlayStation 4. Monster of the Deep is based on the fishing mini-game featured in Final Fantasy XV, but where that was a mostly optional activity you could freely indulge in when the whim strikes, here it is your sole objective. It’s an unusual direction for the first VR Final Fantasy game to take, and from what we’ve seen of it, there may not be enough depth to sustain it as a standalone experience.
We played a brief demo of Monster of the Deep at a Square Enix event just prior to New York Comic-Con, which dropped us by the side of a serene lake with one of Noctis’s travel buddies, Prompto (Noctis, Gladio, and Ignis also made a brief appearance toward the end of the demo). Prompto served as our guide of sorts, introducing us to the area and humorously cheering us on from the sidelines while we fished. The mission he gave us to complete was a seemingly simple one–catch any three fish–but it turned out to be more difficult than it sounded due to the PS Move controllers.
Like the string of fishing games released for Wii during the initial motion-control craze, Monster of the Deep requires you to physically cast your line with one hand and reel it in with the other, using a second PS Move controller to simulate the motion. Unfortunately, the controls felt imprecise; it was difficult to gauge how much strength you needed to put behind each cast, and as a result, I often found myself throwing the line way too far. What’s worse, the game doesn’t have a quick way to retrieve your line; you have to manually reel it in each time you misthrow, which quickly becomes tedious.
Once I managed to hook something, Monster of the Deep became more enjoyable, though the actual process of catching a fish was rudimentary. Before you cast your line, you can press a button on the left Move controller to use a sensor, which indicates where fish are lurking. When one is hooked, you’ll need to adjust how you’re holding the pole as the fish struggles against you so that it doesn’t break free. At least in the demo, this wasn’t an issue; the three I managed to catch hardly put up a fight, though they’ll presumably be more challenging in later areas of the game. You also have to manually grab the fish off the hook and place it into the net with your off-hand, which didn’t add anything substantial to the experience but was a charming touch.
The demo culminated with a light gun-style battle against a Demonfish. For this encounter, you trade your fishing pole for a crossbow and must shoot the monster as it leaps around the environment and attacks you. This was likewise fun but very simplistic; the entire battle amounted to simply shooting the monster in the head often enough to subdue it.
While the Monster of the Deep demo was charming, it doesn’t make a very convincing case to purchase a PSVR, and it isn’t nearly as ambitious or intriguing as Square Enix’s other VR venture, Project Hikari. The game launches for PS4 on November 21. You can watch our playthrough of the demo above.