Role-playing games can often promise a grandiose adventure, and there’s certainly been no shortage of those this year. Some of the heaviest hitters of 2023 are lengthy RPG journeys that advertise dozens upon dozens of hours of questing and storytelling. So it’s nice when a game like Sea of Stars lets me hang up my adventurer’s hat for a little bit of fishing.
I’m only a few hours into Sea of Stars, which is out today on PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and PC. It’s a chill, interesting RPG that definitely has some love for the golden oldies, but also has some neat ideas of its own. Not surprising, given its the team that made a similar retro-modern fusion in The Messenger.
And while I could easily talk about the combat system and its intricacies, or the art and music, or some intriguing character writing for the extended cast, I’m here for the fish. The second I saw a lake with swimming silhouettes lurking below the surface, I knew where I was spending my time.
Sea of Stars‘ fishing minigame is found throughout its overworld, in designated fishing holes dotting the landscape. Just head in and you can cast a rod into the blue, looking to hook a catch.
The premise is simple, even if not obviously explained: keep the fish within your bounded lines while reeling them in. Tug too much while it’s outside, and line tension will build up to a breaking point if you let it. Oh, and if the fish leaps in the air, you can do a timed smack of the A button (or respective press on your controller of choice) to get a little stun-strike.
Talking to others who are much farther in than me, Sea of Stars fishing does not get much more complicated than that. Find a lake, cast a rod, get some fish. You can filet them up for cooking materials, or release them back.
A nearby board tracks what fish you’ve caught from the lake. There might be prizes for filling those out. But honestly, I don’t really care, because that’s not why I’m here. I’m just here for a chill time.
It’s not like Sea of Stars is particularly arduous or anything. But as the size of games has grown, I really appreciate when the big ones offer these little respites.
Take a load off
Part of it is the sheer number of massive, huge hour count games. I’m led to believe Sea of Stars is on the shorter side. But in a year where I’ve covered the likes of Octopath Traveler 2, Final Fantasy XVI, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and Baldur’s Gate 3, having little moments of calm sprinkled throughout the journey is nice.
Especially with Sea of Stars, I love how its a tiny excursion. You veer off the path, like a detour in Super Mario World, to a side area that’s just about you and the fish. None of the ponds I’ve sat beside so far have had combat zones or anything else major in them. Just fishing Zen.
It’s not just fishing; any minigame can provide this. I’ve heard there’s a board game in Sea of Stars that’s quite engaging. But I find these little spots in other fantasy worlds too. Whether it’s Fort Condor in Final Fantasy VII Remake, or Gwent in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, these side moments are wonderful distractions. Heck, my love for these side ventures is probably why I’ve been so determined to get the Triple Triad mount in Final Fantasy XIV. It’s close now, I can feel it.
But these side activities also help inform our party members. They’re not just roaming adventurers who have to be heroes all the time. They can break off to run a blitzball squad, or strike up a game of Caravan with a roaming merchant. Or if you’re Kazuma Kiryu / Kasuga Ichiban, you do a lot of side activities.
Point being, I like the little moments of calm. They create a good ebb and flow to the journey, and give a story like Sea of Stars a nice moment to relax, forget about your troubles, and snag some fish. If that’s your jam, Sea of Stars is out now, and it’s on both PlayStation Plus Game Catalog and Xbox Game Pass too.