We checked out Slow Bros' new narrative adventure at Gamescom, diving into the story of Mr. Halibut.
After leaving Earth as a cold war threatens to turn hot, humanity finds itself aboard a giant ship known as the Fedora. It has kept those aboard safe for 250 years, but it is the only home these space-faring humans have known, as the planet they've landed on is made entirely of water. Here Harold Halibut's journey begins, as he makes an amazing discovery that'll change the course of human history.
Harold Halibut is a narrative game first and foremost. We're not given a whole lot of options in terms of gameplay but that's fine, as the story is meant to be the thing that draws you in, and it does. But, something else that pulls your eyes right to Harold Halibut from the moment you hit start is the unique visual style that Slow Bros. have gone for. Every model in Harold Halibut has been hand-crafted. No, that's not in the sense that someone digitally made these models. They're real, as shown to us when we sat down to play at Gamescom. Real, clay models have been digitally added into the game, giving it the feeling like you're playing through a Laika or Aardman movie.
The designs as well are unique, and even the unassuming Harold has enough about him that makes him stand out. The Fedora and the other environments you explore are full of funny, quirky and sometimes just downright weird characters. We suppose that's what happens when humans are stuck on a sunken ship for hundreds of years. All the quirks are part of the personality when you step into a title like Harold Halibut, though, and they allow the game to keep a unique charm about it.
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Without spoiling much, the story of Harold Halibut is an interesting one. Revolving around Harold's discovery made early on into the game (which is an alien, by the way), we see how our main character and the world around him shifts once the secret is out. This also results in some great fish out of water stuff for Harold, as he struggles to understand the new society he has met. Besides just gunning through the main objectives, there are side quests to get involved with, and we actually spent most of our time messing around with them as they were a great way of meeting new faces and understanding more about the world.
For those interested in getting lost in a quirky but relatable story, and a world that feels a far cry from and yet also a bit similar to our own, Harold Halibut does look like one to watch. However, there is one gripe with the game as it stands, and this is mainly in the dialogue. This is a nit-picky thing to highlight, but sometimes it can feel as though conversations don't flow naturally. If this is the intended direction, then it's working, but otherwise it can make certain conversations feel flat. The humour - which was quite strong - can also take a hit with this dialogue. It just doesn't feel like it's two people talking and instead you can picture writers coming up with this stuff, which isn't the atmosphere you want to create if you wish to immerse your players.
Otherwise, it's anchors away for Harold Halibut, which manages to reel in an intriguing world, truly unique character designs, and a story worth following all at once. It's a bit slow to pull in absolutely everyone, but if you're a fan of these story games which just let you get lost in a narrative for a while, this will be one to look out for.