Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Baltoro Games
Developer: Bryce Bucher
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Last time we covered a game developed by Bryce Bucher, it was Fatum Betula, a baffling experience that looked like it could have been first released 25 years ago for the first PlayStation. He?s returned with Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia ? and, once again, it?s an odd game that looks and plays like it could?ve come out back in the late ?90s.

However, even though the two games both owe a huge debt of gratitude to PS1, and both are odd, it?s important to note that they?re quite different from each other. Where Fatum Betula felt like a stream-of-consciousness fever dream, Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia is actually just a fishing game. It drops you in the wilderness and leaves you to figure out everything on your own, but at its heart, the game is all about casting your line and reeling in fish.

That said, calling Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia ?just a fishing game” undersells just how strange it is. For one thing, it?s fairly unsettling. After your first day, a creepy-looking man shows up at your campsite and makes a few vaguely threatening jokes. He turns out to be the game?s shopkeeper, so he serves a purpose, but seeing as there are no other people in the game, he comes off as pretty odd. You?ll also come across some strange happenings as you?re out fishing, especially at night. I won?t spoil any of them ? to the extent the game can be spoiled, because there?s not much of a plot ? but needless to say, they make the whole thing awfully creepy.

And, of course, there are the fish themselves. You may start out by catching tuna and bass, but it?s not long until you find yourself fishing for much, much stranger fish. Again, I don?t want to give away too much, but you?ll quickly discover that the titular lake is home to fish that you don?t usually see outside of the depths of the deepest oceans ? to say nothing of one fish that I?m quite certain doesn?t even exist. While the fish don?t lead to some grand reveal, their mere presence is still enough to underline how different this is from your usual fishing game.

Of course, that makes it harder to say who this game is actually for. As fishing games go, there?s not a lot here ? you have one location, and you?re essentially grinding your way through as many fish as you can in order to upgrade your equipment. Likewise, it?s not really a horror game, however unsettling it may be ? there are hints of something darker and more sinister, but I wouldn?t call Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia scary, by any stretch (though, to be fair, you do get an ending that?s bonkers even by this developer?s standards). Basically, it?s an odd game about fishing that looks like a leftover from another generation, so if that?s what you?re after, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find here.

Baltoro Games provided us with a Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-