This VR fishing game is a bit buggy but still wonderfully relaxing

We recently dove in to create a list of the best fishing experiences on PC—not just looking at fishing sims but at any game that features fishing as an activity, like Stardew Valley and Far Cry 5. This was prior to Catch & Release, a VR fishing game, arrived on Steam this month. I've played it and can say it's definitely going on our list. While it's a bit buggy, it's also one of the most enjoyable fishing games I've played. Even the bugs themselves are kind of fun.

You begin sitting in a rowboat with a fishing rod, a lunchbox full of sandwiches, a beer (important) and a radio you can tune for a selection of songs. Get a bite on your line and reel it in, or if you don't get a nibble after a while you can put down the rod, grab the oars and row yourself to a new spot in the lake. In the meantime, nosh on a sandwich, knock back a beer, find a nice song on the radio, flip through the fishing catalog, or just chill and enjoy the scenery.

You can sell the fish you catch by popping them in the cooler behind you and closing the lid, or release them if you think they're a bit too puny. When you've made some money you can pick up the catalog, flip through the pages, and poke something you want to buy. It'll pop right out of the catalog page and into your boat, faster than Amazon Prime. 

The main bug I experienced is with items not staying where I put them but teleporting back to the seat in front of me. In the GIF at the top of the page you can see the fish I try to release vanish and appear on the seat. Below, I encounter the same issue with my radio, which doesn't want to sit still even when I try to weigh it down with a half-sando. It's more silly than anything, but it's clear a few issues still need to be ironed out.

Yes, that is exactly how I eat a sandwich, by the way.

When you're not reeling in a fish or wrestling with teleporting radios and sandwiches, Catch & Release is a nice and relaxing fishing sim. Sitting there in the boat is perfectly convincing as well. Everything is nicely interactive: you really twist the dial and volume knobs on the radio, you hold the beer in one hand and crack it open with the other, you pick up a piece of cheese and pop it onto the hook as bait. At one point I tried to put my vaping device, a real item I was holding in my real hand, onto the virtual seat in the virtual boat in front of me. That's always my signal that a VR game is convincing—when I forget what's real and what isn't, and that doesn't happen very often.

Despite the bugs, Catch & Release is a wonderful fishing sim if you're looking to kick back, relax, and spend some time in a boat with a brew and some tunes. You can even skip stones across the lake. I played it with an HTC Vive but it also supports the Oculus Rift.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.