Ice Lakes – What We Think:
Ice Lakes is both a single and multiplayer ice fishing simulator developed by Iceflake Studios. Becoming acquainted with changing seasons and weather conditions corresponds with the behavior of the fish, which ultimately provides a real-life experience. The physics and mechanics appear brilliant, and they are. Overall, it gives the impression of being an entertaining fishing simulator, not to mention a visually appealing one. In some ways it is, but at times the attention to realism detracts from the fun.
Above everything else, patience is essential in Ice Lakes. I came to terms with this as soon as I plopped my avatar down on a virtual frozen lake and drilled through the ice to begin my journey as a fisherman. The fishing pole descended into the open hole of water and I simply waited. Ten minutes later, I became antsy because nothing was happening. I was doing my duties and following the basic yet sparse recommendations that occasionally appeared on screen. I scooped the accumulating ice from my ice hole, I drastically relocated the position of my pole, yet here I was – an apparently very terrible fisherman.
Catch and Release
Turns out, there is a very subtle movement of the fishing pole that is a cue to reel in the prized possession. The movement is almost so unnoticeable that if my vision were to stray elsewhere for even just a moment, the fish would disappear from my life forever.
In my defense, though, Ice Lakes didn’t provide me with any guidelines. Basic tutorials weren’t available to lead me through the elementary game mechanics. I had no idea what I was doing for a solid hour, and it was downright frustrating. Granted, I’m not much of a fisherman outside of Ice Lakes, but a simulation game shouldn’t be this much of a mystery, especially when it comes to the fundamentals.
Once I did get a general grip of Ice Lakes, I was on a quest to be the best. Various maps, settings and game modes were modifiable. I even had a say in how long I wanted to concentrate on my fishing rod – ranging from ten minutes to a whopping 180 minutes, depended on the amount of patience I had that day. Of course, that time span was also determined by the type of game I was planning to dive into. An online mode is available for those interested in interacting and competing with fellow fishermen. As a rookie, “free fishing” seemed to be the safest bet. This way, there were no time limits or restrictions whatsoever.
Furthermore, succeeding in Ice Lakes is all about finding the hot spots on the map. I must admit that discovering the top-notch spot and catching the largest fish was quite the accomplishment. All it took was a little trial and error. Hot spots became my throne, and I took absolute pride in them. I was out to be the best, you know.
The game mode and how well I did influenced the amount of spending money I acquired. I could then use said money to purchase new jigs, equipment or baits. Like anything else, the spendy and flashy equipment achieves the best fishing results. Sadly, I am poor, so many fishing expeditions are reflected in the crystal ball. This is where partaking in tournaments became handy. Even if I happened to somehow land in last place, I was still awarded with a good chunk of pocket change. Unfortunately though, the set time for each tournament is 30 minutes, and that’s 30 minutes of pure attentiveness.
Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but Ice Lakes doesn’t offer players any background music. Personally, there is nothing that will put me to sleep faster than silence and gawking at a gaping hole in the middle of frozen water. It’s almost torturous. In retrospect, the reality of ice fishing is very familiar to how Ice Lakes presents it, but a soundtrack corresponding with the wintry setting would be an excellent addition.
The One That Got Away
Ice Lakes isn’t a game for everyone. It requires an exceptional amount of patience and concentration. The fact that I cannot tell if a fish is biting unless I am glaring at the fishing pole is a bit eccentric. An added cue of some sort that I had a bite would make Ice Lakes less stressful and convey more of that peaceful fishing ambiance. Plus, my eyeballs are dried up like prunes because if I were to blink, I would miss an opportunity at catching a fish.
With some improvement, Ice Lakes could prove to be a wonderful ice fishing simulation. As of now, I’m packing away my virtual fishing equipment and calling it a day.
Ice Lakes is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Ice Lakes below: