Halfbrick established itself as one of the App Store’s top developers thanks to games that feature simple, engaging mechanics and delightfully manicured aesthetics. Both Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride alike were sensations when they respectively launched, and remain among the best all-time iOS titles because they’re tremendously fun and so thoroughly well crafted. Fish Out of Water is the studio’s latest original affair, and while some of the hallmark elements are there — notably a unique approach plus quick-hit missions — the game curiously doesn’t have the same hook as those earlier favorites.
Maintaining the side-scrolling perspective of Jetpack Joyride, Fish Out of Water ditches the endless approach and instead tasks players to make the most of limited play attempts. Selecting from a handful of colorful creatures swimming near the beach, you’ll grab and fling three of them — one at a time — and attempt to snag high scores from the crustacean judges by skipping your fish across the water. Both total distance and number of skips play into your scores, and each fish (or other aquatic animal) reacts differently to the arc of your throw and the angle at which they hit the water.
The dolphin, for example, will bob in and out of the water for a considerable distance if thrown flatly to the right, but if you aim too far skyward, he’ll crash into the ocean floor and lose momentum. And the randomly changing weather plays a part in how the fish fly and react to the water upon impact, plus you may occasionally see jellyfish on the surface that act like bouncy pads to give you a little extra distance. All of that must be taken into consideration when choosing which fish to launch and how best to heave them. Your average score is added onto daily leaderboards that rank the players in your chosen league, offering incentive to play regularly and seek the best weather conditions to notch the highest placement.
But Fish Out of Water never quite grabbed us like its earlier Halfbrick brethren. Much as we enjoy the original concept, there’s little variety to the action, with meager reward for considerable time investment beyond discerning better tossing strategies. Sadly, Fish Out of Water also lacks a stylized edge to its presentation, looking fairly generic in its cartoonish approach. Plus, it’s the rare premium game that actually feels like it should have been free, as there’s already a system in place to game the scoreboards by buying ample crystals, which are used to create power-ups.
Each judge has different criteria, and you’ll need to consider both distance and total number of skips to have overall success.
Fish Out of Water Review | Mac|Life