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Isle Of Jura Preview: Pretty Much Hooked

With her report due and no data to submit, Alex decides to take a fishing trip on the Isle of Jura. Tag along too on this exploration/chill experience, etc.

Isle of Jura Coming 2022
Source: PR

A lot of us play games to unwind, and titles like Isle of Jura amplify that notion as its very foundations are built upon the ancient sands of Relaxantis. That’s not remotely made up for the purpose of this write-up.

Unfortunately for me, it didn’t start off relaxing as the dialogue boxes aren’t voice acted; it’s gibberish. I don’t know if I’m a minority in disliking this effect, but it spoiled the atmosphere for Lydia, and for a game review tomorrow (I wrote this preview two months ago – it no longer matters), I turned off the sound effects for that reason. We all have our peeves, and that’s one of mine.

Anyhoo, after this tumult from Alex and her mum/mom (it lasts seconds), it transpires that the former needs to produce a report but doesn’t have the data. Instead of searching on Wikipedia and flaunting a bit of plagiarism, she decides to go out into the field, that is, the isle of Jura. I like her already.

Isle of Jura - Power
A good plaice to fish. Source: Steam

The visuals are an acquired taste, and I wasn’t keen on the character’s fish-like eyes, but the animation is very good. Hopping off the jetty, rather than check in on Grandpa before he dies and becomes the catalyst for another simulator game, Alex had a mosey around the place. To counter the art style (again it depends on your tastes), the colours, vibes and score were excellent.

Hauling your catch around could get a little…smelly, so you can flog them to local profiteer Lola

Isle of Jura, from EM Games and Sedoc, shares a Zelda quality in terms of presentation, with that folksy sort of tune you might find from a dexterous dog on [insert the name of your island] in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s all very… lovely, but what about the gameplay?

Well, it should be clear that you’re here for research purposes, but as you can’t equip a lab coat, have a supervisor watching your every step and have an energy that gives off ‘inquisitive and playful’, you might as well check out your surroundings.

The camera is automatic and playing with a controller, I couldn’t adjust the viewpoint. Not having the ability to view your surroundings and waiting for the camera to swing around you is a tad annoying when you want to see what’s up ahead. Changing the direction Alex is facing doesn’t alleviate it either, as it appears the cameras are fixed and activated on your approach. But it’s trivial. There’s no rush.

Isle of Jura - Haddock
I’ve haddock with coming up with fish puns. Source: Steam

As for the actual fishing side of things in Isle of Jura, you begin with a net, enter shallow water and hit the trigger button at the right time to catch some marine life. It’s essentially a QTE, and emphasis is on quick! When you’ve caught a specimen, it gets added to your journal, and slowly but surely, you’ll unlock new species through practice and exploration. The weight of the creature will be displayed, followed by a fact or two. 

Hauling your catch around could get a little…smelly, so you can flog them to local profiteer Lola. In exchange for something edible, she’ll give you money to buy new stuff. What new stuff could you possibly buy? Fishing rods! There’s two on offer – one for general use in lakes and the sea, another more advanced one for freshwater fishing in the rivers.

The approach is intuitive: press R2 to launch into the water, wait for the bite, then tap away, or line up the gauges to reel the prize in without the line snapping. There’s a wealth to catch, and it isn’t solely from one area as the more you explore, the broader your journal becomes. But that’s not all, as you can also collect artefacts to hand over to the local ‘intellectual’ that will display them on a shelf for you.

That’s pretty much all there is to Isle of Jura, but it delivers on my expectations. A relaxing indie title? Check. Lots of idyllic fishing scenarios? Check. An enjoyable experience? Check. You get the point. It’s not a game you’ll spend hours on, but the time you do play soon passes by as you sit back and chill. It’s one worth considering for your wishlist. Especially if you like those fishing segments in Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Hokko Life.

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