Lake Ophelia - 1 - Standing at the lake

Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia Review – What Swims Beneath

Developed & published by Bryce Bucher

Available on PC

MSRP: $4.99

I’m a sucker for a collectible-type fishing game. The entrancing feeling of mashing all but one or two buttons as I sit in complete silence, immersed in the natural sounds of digital birds and buzzing flies. The devastating thrill of continuing to lose half of your catches even with those hard-earned equipment upgrades. There’s something about struggling for the perfect balance of clicks as I reel in a pixelated pike that just really hooks me far more than actual fishing can. When I first discovered Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia and learned it was that experience plus chunky PSX graphics and buoyant mystery-horror, I was pulled in hook, line, and sinker.

It’s no secret I salivate at modern crunchy graphics that evoke a retro-vibe. The streamlined experience of current-day controls, mixed with the creativity that undefinable polygons provide is a sure-fire amongst the horror community. Creator of Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia, Bryce Bucher, has forged quite a path amongst that community with thought-provoking and mystery-tinged titles like Fatum Betula, and Disparity of the Dead from Dread X Collection III. And this title is nothing short of that excellent chill and thrill.

Lake Ophelia - 2 - Just a little guppy

The game begins swiftly, opening upon a wispy blue sky kissed with tranquility. You find yourself pocketed within a nest of forest valley, the starting campsite comfortably open to the surrounding grasses. Before I even set off to explore, I absolutely had to walk in spirals simply to watch the grinning sunny lure over my shoulder lifelessly dangle and sway at the end of my bowing rod. I’m also a sucker for a little bit of bouncing physics. Once that was out of my system, the yawning lake over the hill sang to me like a sweet siren.

Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia is simple but serenely satisfying. Cast your lure, catch a fish for profit, and use your funds to upgrade and complete your fish encyclopedia. Though with some of the rare enigmatic fish lurking in the deep, it doesn’t feel so simple. The waters radiate a great sense of curiosity. How can a couple of forest water sources be filled teaming with exotic aquatic life from the abyss? Were they placed by some large-scale aquarist who wanted to play god? Maybe they were spawned from the back of an omnipotent eldritch all-fish-mother? Either way, I’m scooping them up.

Lake Ophelia - 3 - The fireside merchant

After an evening or so of casting your rod into a pool of stars, a curious cigar-smoking purveyor of exactly what you need appears out of thin air. Lures to loot, Tackle to… well, tackle. And the best part? He’ll buy all of your weird, sloppy catches at a premium price. “Last night my eyes were playing tricks on me. I could have sworn I saw two yellow eyes in the forest.” and other ambiguous phrases he utters upon greeting. I’m not sure if it’s the heat from the crackling campfire or the cigar smoke, but he reveals his suspicions surrounding Lake Ophelia as the game progresses.

Swiftly after the waterfall called my name. “This is it. This is finally the Time where a game will actually have something hidden behind a waterfall. I feel it in my bones.” I mentally repeated as I braced myself for nothingness. But I was not let down one bit. A scintillating moonlit pond glimmered before my eyes beyond the cave. Perfectly placed water-level-style music washed over my headphones with satisfaction. And the lustrous pools weren’t short of curious creatures wriggling about. I sat a while just to take in the atmosphere. Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia does that especially well. Rendering you to sit still and just listen. To gulp down the fresh atmosphere as your fishing line tangles beneath the surface. Listening to gentle bubbling and birds above.

Lake Ophelia - 4 - A sunken lure

I found myself immersed and submersed, eagerly plunging into the depths. Developing strategies on how to reel in the perfect fish. Investigating casting techniques to land in the right nook to lure in the coveted brilliantly-colored Flower Horn. Yelling internally when my line didn’t land right next to a reclusive muscle. Trying out dubiously cooked seafood and casting my line beyond the maps’ confines. But through it all, the depths compel you to go even deeper. There is a secret this bizarre brine has yet to reveal. It glows at night, a radioactive gem on the surface, beckoning you to explore. Perhaps… The source of mystery under the lake…

The thought-provoking twist ending is an experience that really adds a pond-water-soaked cherry on top, so I’ll keep it under algae wraps, and instead urge you to take a dive into Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia yourself. Its mellow ambiance tinged with unearthly perplexity is alluring, and ardently crafted. It’s a matchless abyssal blend of nostalgic fishing mini-games and horror that fans of either will easily sink into.