Deadliest Catch: The Game by Moonlit S.A.
I like to think that I’m patient. Despite considering this a virtue, I’m often told I’m patient to a fault. Deadliest Catch: The Game seems built from the ground up to teach me that my belief is pure hubris; I am apparently not patient enough.
Offering up a detailed simulation experience structured around the vocation of crabbing, Deadliest Catch: The Game draws its title from the popular television series of the same name.
Deadliest…and Most Cumbersome
My first moments with Deadliest Catch involved hovering my mouse cursor between Career mode and Tutorial, knowing what kind of game it is, knowing the tutorial would be painfully comprehensive and yet also knowing that I must go to crabbing school or suffer Poseidon’s wrath as I fumble helplessly around on the deck of a ship in the middle of nowhere. Little did I know that, at least for a while, the controls would make even the tutorial a challenge.
Once I bought the tools needed for a bit of crabbing, I set sail and was plunged into first-person mode. Naturally, I pressed W to walk towards the first tutorial objective and…opened a small command list. Turns out the default button for forward motion is Z.
“Okay, so this is a slightly different control system. That’s interesting,” I told myself, right before noticing that the back-pedal key is still S. The next few moments are filled with wonder and bemusement as I take in this utterly bizarre control scheme.
Buttons can be rebound, of course, but I was fascinated by these design decisions and decided that I would stick with it.
“There must be a method to the madness,” I thought.
There isn’t a method to the madness.
All the Toil of Actual Alaskan Crab Fishing
Moving away from the bizarre controls, Deadliest Catch is a fairly extensive crabbing simulator. Bait, cages, grappling hooks, fuel…everything needs to be considered before setting out on a voyage.
The game even has a map which must be used to isolate ideal crabbing locations based on certain parameters. Once aboard the ship, there are numerous tasks that must be performed to successfully make a catch, from attaching bait to using a large crane to maneuvering cages into position.
Once crabs have been caught, it is necessary to sift through the catch to find the large, male crabs which are legal under Alaskan law.
The sum of these parts is a pretty comprehensive crabbing simulator which I’m sure would engage anyone looking for an immersive seafaring experience.
I, however, found myself accidentally driving my ship away from the deployed cage, circling desperately to try and find it again and wondering if my unfortunate character would ever see land again. When I did miraculously get back to land, I began to explore the various upgrades available to more successful crabbers.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Many ship functions can eventually be automated to remove much of the minutiae of the job; crewmen can be hired to stand around on deck looking forlorn and bitter about their life choices whilst helping with various tasks.
The upgrades system is broad and provides plenty of motivation for a lengthy career at sea earning finances to improve operations.
Deadliest Catch is clearly a game with lofty goals and while it is still early days in development, it is obvious that the developers are trying to create a detailed and engaging simulation. The graphics are more than adequate, and the sound effects do a decent job of underscoring the lonely feeling of being out at sea.
It’s a shame the controls are a bit bizarre, but this is a minor gripe that can easily be resolved. I think it’s fair to say that this isn’t a game for everyone, but if exploring the challenges of the crabbing trade or simply losing yourself at sea is an appealing prospect, then Deadliest Catch may have something intriguing to offer.
Deadliest Catch: The Game is available in Early Access via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Deadliest Catch: The Game below: