Moonglow Bay review for Xbox, PC

Platform: Xbox Series X
Also on: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Coatsink Software
Developer: Bunnyhug
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: No

I never thought it was possible for fishing games to be wildly divergent in?well, any respect, but the last month or so has proven me wrong. A few weeks ago, I reviewed Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia, a bizarre, vaguely unsettling experience that felt like a lost game from the first PlayStation. And now here we are with Moonglow Bay, and it?s about as different as can possibly be.

I mean, you?re still fishing, so there?s that common thread between the two. But in every other respect, Moonglow is about as far from unsettling and creepy as you could possibly imagine. It?s warm, it?s wholesome, it?s cuddly, it?s emotional. I don?t know if two games can be opposites, but if it?s possible, these two games are an example of how broad the fishing genre can apparently be.

Of course, in the case of Moonglow Bay, we?re talking about a much deeper experience. It has a plot, for starters: after a brief introduction to your main character and his/her/their partner (this game asks you to pick your pronouns right off the bat, as well as your sexual orientation), the game jumps ahead, and you discover your partner has died and you?ve spent the last few years grieving in a small rural fishing village somewhere in Atlantic Canada. The story follows you as your daughter helps you get ? and, by extension, the whole village ? back on your feet by starting your own fishing business

As you?d imagine from a game like this, the titular town is full of all kinds of folksy characters, all of whom want to share their wisdom with you, and all of whom have little tasks they need you to fill. The more people you talk to and help, the more fish and fish recipes you learn about, and the more the town comes back to life.

It?s important to note that you spend a lot of time fishing in Moonglow Bay (which makes sense, obviously, seeing as it?s a fishing game). You have to choose your bait and your lure, you have to know when to reel them in, you have to upgrade your bait. Your business only moves forward if you have enough fish to keep it thriving, so you?ll spend a lot of time casting your line and waiting for that telltale controller vibration for when you have to reel it in.

You?ll also have to spend a fair amount of time cooking all those fish. That means lots of minigames, whether it?s timing your dicing just right, or keeping the temperature at just the right heat, or doing any of the other tasks demanded by the various recipes you gather and unlock.

Despite all these demands, it?s important to note that Moonglow Bay isn?t all that demanding. It?s meant to be pleasant and cozy, and everything about it ? from the folksy characters, to the fiddle music, to the lovely voxel art ? is designed to be as warm and upbeat and wholesome as possible.

And more often than not, it succeeds at being a pleasant experience. You wouldn?t think a fishing game, of all things, as being cuddly and cozy and inviting ? but Moonglow Bay proves that it?s not just possible, it?s also pretty fun.

Coatsink Software provided us with a Moonglow Bay Xbox Series X code for review purposes.

Grade: A-