Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: How Fish Is Made
This game begins with a fish falling down a big long metal chute. At the bottom, there is no water and you may flop about and talk with the other fish who find themselves in the belly of this disturbing machine. All seem to be focused on one important question; do I go up or down? The answer to this esoteric question may be found the deeper you go in How Fish is Made. Big big big big BIG trigger warning for anyone who has trypophobia.
It’s not too uncommon for a horror game to substitute a big creepy thing chasing you for some existential dread. After all, a spooky guy can theoretically be defeated. You still have to live with existence. But generally, this is in regards to the human condition. What would happen if this idea was explored with the common sardine?
How Fish is Made is a story about fish. Fish who find themselves out of water and in the process of deciding their fate. The fate is completely uncertain, and the path to this decision is disturbing throughout. And yet, despite their ichthyic forms and continual reference to their oily fish bodies, the characters in this game are stunningly human and make the whole process that much more unsettling.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
This is not exactly a walking simulator. More like a floundering simulator. All you can do is flop to and fro down the corridors and talk to the other piscine NPCs who are around. How Fish is Made does not have many gameplay sequences, though the dialogue and exploration is tremendously done.
How Fish is Made is, more than anything, extremely weird. You have likely never played a game from the perspective of a fish out of water. Especially one who finds themselves in a Godspeed You! Black Emperor album made manifest. Everything about this game is fascinating. The mysterious circumstances surrounding it all. The transitions from machine corridors to digestive tracts. The harrowing sounds that know just when to get really loud, with the interior design of Silent Hill’s Otherworld. It is a sight to behold, unless, and I cannot stress this enough, unless you have trypophobia.
There are a few weird things that I think take away from the How Fish Is Made experience. For one, a five-minute-long music video flat in the middle of this. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing bit of fun. But this isn’t exactly a game about fish having a fun time, you know? Other than that, I think there could be a little more interaction with the world.
How To Fix It:
For one, I think the fish music video needs to stay exactly as is. It doesn’t exactly fit, but the contrast of it makes for an even weirder uncanniness to the rest of the game. Beyond that, some examinable objects would make for some interesting content. Not that I think How Fish is Made needs any lore, but with the amazing writing already present, I can see some more text making the world feel that much more full.
How Fish is Made is the kind of nautical nonsense that I love. This exploration of fish being turned into food makes me think of the unseen cruelty of factory farming, the inevitability of death, and the Cormac McCarthy-esque it’s-all-a-big-painful-dance view of life. Developer Kasuraga has created something truly unique here. A fishing game horror unlike any other. Again, please do not play this if you have any issues with trypophobia.