Moonglow Bay 2

Moonglow Bay Review

6
Very promising

Have you ever tried really hard to like something? Maybe it’s a specific food everyone else goes crazy over; perhaps it’s a song constantly played on the radio, or maybe it’s a game that you’ve been excited about for so long that you now feel obligated to enjoy? Well, I have, and that game is Moonglow Bay.

That said, here’s something I never thought I’d be writing: I quite enjoyed my time in Moonglow Bay; some might even go as far as to say I’m hooked on it. If you’d spoken to me a few days ago, however, my opinion on Moonglow Bay wouldn’t have been even close to as positive.

There’s no use sugar-coating it: when I jumped into Moonglow Bay on launch, I did not enjoy a single second of my time in it, even though it’s a game that, by every measure, should have been right up my alley. I’m also not alone in that opinion. A quick browse through Steam’s reviews will show dozens of players, echoing the same feelings of disappointment and frustration with the game. My personal favourite review is just one word: “No.”

Might be worth playing

One of the first opinions I jotted down when playing Moonglow Bay was that even if the developers sorted out all the glitches, bugs and issues, I still wasn’t convinced that the game would be worth playing, and that was because there was barely a game beneath these bugs; it largely felt empty and pointless. I was sure you would be better off casting your line elsewhere. However, starting up the game again post-patch, I could finally see the gem of a game that was there all the time.

The story behind Moonglow Bay is a sentimental and novel one. You play as someone who moved with their partner to a little fishing town, only to have your partner disappear under mysterious circumstances. The village of Moonglow Bay always had  a superstitious fear of the waters surrounding it, and your partner’s disappearance only spurred this on. Fast forward to a few years later, and you are now a middle-aged individual drowning in your heartbreak and fast food packaging. But while you’ve spent the last three years falling apart at home, Moonglow Bay has been breaking at the seams too. A surprise visit from your daughter convinced you to start living your life again–and give Moonglow bay a second chance at survival as well.

Still cosy and relaxing

At its core, Moonglow Bay is a relaxing and cosy game about love, dealing with loss and finding yourself, regardless of age. Starting Moonglow Bay is a speedy and straightforward experience; you are given three pre-made characters to choose from, you then get to pick your name and your pronoun. You then select your partner out of a choice of three and their preferred pronoun, and that’s it; you’re ready to go. And throughout the game, you will spend your days fishing, and your nights cooking. The money you make selling your fellow villager’s favourite meals to them will be spent on improving the town around you.

Moonglow Bay is simple, from its Voxel art style to its combat free playstyle, and yet simple never equates to empty or dull. Whether it’s petting your dog (adorably named Waffles), talking to the other residents, taking a new type of fish you caught to the aquarium or cooking up a meal for the lovely old lady down the street; there is always something for you to do, although there is never a sense of urgency to any of it – which could very easily be a pro or a con, depending on what experience you’re looking for.

Life after patching

I will say that my game experience drastically improved after the controller support got fixed. Yes, you can play Moonglow Bay with a keyboard, but you shouldn’t if you can help it. The whole experience is just so much more relaxing when you can curl up with pillows and blankets and just get lost in the music while playing instead of having to sit right by your keyboard and perform constant finger gymnastics–but that’s just me.

Starting up the game again post-patch, I could finally see the gem of a game that was there all the time. Moonglow Bay still has a long way to go; the movement still feels overly clunky, the fishing is severely lacking, considering that it’s the selling point of the game, and the camera is at times so bad I feel like I’m back in the 90s again.

However, looking at the progress the game has made in just a week fills me with hope that before long Moonglow Bay is going to reflect the labor of love that it clearly is. Even though I don’t see myself swapping out my go-to “rainy day” games like Stardew Valley or Moonlighter for Moonglow Bay anytime soon, I’m also not ready to say that I definitely won’t. The amount of progress that the game made in just a week and a single patch has given me nothing but hope for its future, and it’s a game I’ll be keeping an eye on in the weeks to come.

Moonglow Bay also supports local coop, and while I’ll always support anything that allows me to play with friends, the game feels like an almost personal experience that I didn’t ever feel the urge to invite someone to share with me. So with that, I’ll leave you with my closing thoughts of Moonglow Bay: Not bad, cod be better.