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Moonglow Bay Review: Fishing Up Interesting Plotlines

Moonglow Bay is a slice-of-life fishing sim for PC and Xbox One, developed by Bunnyhug and published by Coatsink. Moonglow Bay takes players on an emotional journey through an older character's attempt to become a master fisherman and business owner in a coastal, Canadian town. While the game's narrative is engaging, a mixture of difficult menus, dry minigames, and hit-or-miss visuals can make what would be a pleasant simulation title a frustrating juggle.

Moonglow Bay takes place in the 1980s, with the player taking on the role of a retired accountant who has moved to the small fishing town with their spouse. They have a dream to open a fish restaurant and help restore the town, which has fallen into financial ruin due to rumors of the bay being cursed with monsters. However, after a series of tragic events, the player is left to fulfill the dream alone, sending them on a journey to uncover the truth behind the curse and potentially what happened to their missing spouse.

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While character creation is limited in Moonglow Bay, players are able to choose from several preset appearances, as well as their preferred pronouns, regardless of the physical appearance of their character. The player's character is also in their sixties, which is a big change from titles like Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons, where the player character is often very young and inherits their farm or business from a grandparent. While these changes are refreshing for the simulation genre, Moonglow Bay would benefit from a few more customization options, or even a proper character creator, to allow players more freedom when setting up their game.

The primary tasks in Moonglow Bay are fishing and cooking. Fishing can be done with a rod on a dock or beach, as well as with nets and on the Trawler once it is repaired. Cooking is done in the player's kitchen, which can be found inside their house. While there are numerous cooking recipes and fish species to uncover, Moonglow Bay is held back by minigames for both tasks that are not intuitive and can be tedious after several hours into the game. To fish, players must execute maneuvers by pulling the rod in the opposite direction the fish is swimming, as well as striking to haul the fish close. Often these maneuvers will fail, requiring the player to spend a frustrating amount of time trying to catch fish. To cook, players must complete a long list of tasks in the form of minigames that include washing, cutting, frying, baking, and boiling the fish. These tasks must also be done with additional ingredients, making cooking a time-consuming and boring requirement to progress in the game.

One of the biggest disappointments of Moonglow Bay is the shopkeeping mechanics. Players must sell both raw fish and cooked dishes to earn Shells, the game's currency. However, there is no proper shop where this is done like in other shopkeeping games. Instead, players sell their goods right off their porch with the use of a vending machine. Due to the amount of time put into catching and cooking, this is an unfulfilling way to manage the shop and feels unfinished for a game with a focus on revitalizing a town's economy. The only benefit to this method of shopkeeping is that items are bought throughout the day, providing a steady influx of income.

While Moonglow Bay has a surprisingly large town map, there aren't many places to visit. One of the most important locations is the Aquarium, where fish can be donated for exhibits in exchange for expanded information on each species. This can help players choose the correct lures and bait to find certain fish, as well as locations where they may be more easily obtainable. While the town may be lacking in locations, once the Trawler is fixed, Moonglow Bay players can explore the oceans around the town in search of rare fish and interesting landmarks. This exploration does a good job of simulating the difficulties and requirements of deep-sea fishing, but can also be frustrating for those who need rare fish for their shop but don't want to have to go on a wide search to find them.

Moonglow Bay also struggles with its art style. While the 2D illustrations of the characters, food, and fish are all beautiful and unique, the voxel-style overworld art can be difficult to decipher, with animals and fish hard to discern. Environments can also be difficult to navigate, as the areas that are open for exploration aren't always obvious.

Moonglow Bay is a good game for those who want a fishing-heavy simulation game with a cute story. That said, the game would benefit from some large updates to improve minigame controls and shopkeeping mechanics, creating a more intuitive experience for players. As it stands now, it's difficult to recommend outside of the very niche audience described, and while it has good ideas, its execution makes broader appeal an impossibility.

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Moonglow Bay is available now on the PC and Xbox One. An Xbox One code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.

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