Rule with an Iron Fish is cheeky fun with its dialogue and zany pirates.
I have never understood the entire Fishing genre. It seemed always to me something far more interesting to do in reality then in a game. Then again, there are plenty of games that have come out and been successful to prove me wrong. There must be something there right? You have games where you drive trucks, hunting games and even super realistic fishing games. Today’s subject is Rule with an Iron Fish. I didn’t know anything about this particular title when it landed on my lap but it had a cute name and I knew it involved fishing in some capacity. The only other experience I had to draw on was Cat Goes Fishing, another cheeky game. (One I loved by the way.)
One thing that is particularly interesting about Rule with an Iron Fish, is that its release was first on the mobile market, then the PC. – Wait! Come back! Don’t go! I promise its worth it!
Yes, Rule with an Iron Fish is a premium mobile game that you can download on your phone. Meaning no ads/micro transactions. The beautiful part is that its the same for PC. Rule with an Iron Fish avoids all the pitfalls of the mobile market, instead delivering something that is easy to digest, easy to play, and best of all, fun. This is a very, very casual and fun game and extremely family friendly. Let’s dive in.
It’s a pirates life but mostly fishing…okay nothing but fishing.
The story of Rule with an Iron Fish goes that you and your twin sibling have a kerfuffle. Don’t notice a massive kraken and get separated. Its your quest to find your lost sibling with the help of a myriad of zany pirate themed characters. Along the way, you will do some farming, questing, fishing, combat and more fishing.
When I said that Rule with an Iron Fish was a casual game I really meant that. The mechanics of the game are still based on a mobile play style. You only need your mouse/arrow keys to play this entire game. You will click on everything to get things done, meaning no controller support. Starting with fishing; fishing is obviously the main core of the game and how you will earn cash/supplies to buy a multitude of upgrades, hats, pets, ships, and more.
To fish you simply click where you want your bobber to go and then wait for a fishy to bite. Simple as that. To keep you involved and prevent this from becoming a snooze fest. Rule with an Iron Fish added rare fish and a struggle system. Some of the more hardier fish will put up a fight and require pressing directional keys to reel in. I am not saying its hard but it’s enough to keep your attention.The real challenge lies in catching all the fish, and completing quests.
Quests usually come in the form of, “catch 20 of so and so.” Which is fine, especially because the writing is fantastically absurd.(More on that later) The problem lies in that it’s mostly just a time sink/luck more than anything else. Fish are divided up into group size, large, medium, small etc. Rule with an Iron Fish provides a fish encyclopedia in case as well. So there are some things to alleviate the blind grind. You just have to be patient enough to catch fifty starfish while putting your bobber in the right spots to catch the right size fish. Not a huge problem, but I did get stuck in overall game progression because of one stupid fish, for like an hour.
Catching all the rare fish can be a bit of a pain as well. Rule with an Iron Fish offers farming and cooking to help you. There are fish foods that you can use to draw out the rare fish, better bait etc. This is all great and helpful, but I found that a far easier approach was just to keep reloading areas until I saw the yellow flashy bastiges. Not the intended way to play, but farming takes far too long for me.
Aside from fishing you have ship combat. Rule with an Iron Fish is about being the best pirate fisherman there was after all. You will face off against other fisherman as they invade your Sea-Turf. The combat is mostly you attempting to cut their lines, catch fish before landing in their boat and battling robots. Did I mention this game was silly?
I will be honest, Rule with an Iron Fish isn’t going to be blowing your mind with its gameplay. What I enjoyed about it is that it’s addictive, relaxing, and gives you plenty to do. After a long day at work when you want to just relax, this is the perfect game to play. It’s not stressful at all. I personally put in a good seven hours on this game, I don’t do that for just any game. I played seven hours because it was enjoyable. Simple things can be fun and Rule with an Iron Fish hits the right blend of that.
Of course I can’t forget to answer a question most people have. What is the difference between PC and mobile? For the most part, nothing. There is one added area and some items. It’s nice. but you’re mostly paying for the pleasure of playing it on your PC.
It helps that this game made me smile and chuckle.
I came for the fishing and stayed for the writing. Every time you land one of the scaley buggers, you are usually given a bit of information on that fish. These little snippets were hilarious and genuinely entertaining. This is continued in the overall story and interaction you have with all of the zany pirates you meet in your home base. From pirates who suck at being pirates, to talking llamas, there is always a wink and a nudge going on with Rule with an Iron Fish. Not all of the jokes are going to click with you of course, but the game oozes charm and cheekiness.
This is prevalent in the art style of the game as well. While the mobile aesthetic is very in your face this doesn’t take away from the game, I found. The character sprites were cute and unique. From the double peg legged Battista The Bad, to Helga the Valkyrie. They each have their own story, quests, and feelings about your misadventures. Their interaction with each other is also a highlight as you could feel that these characters knew each other.
Overall, the art style of the game is simplistic but used effectively. The base itself is full of cute details and doesn’t feel flat or lifeless. The fishing areas do thankfully change up themes from a lava lake to fishing in the sky. However, most of your attention is fixated on shadowy fish rather than anything else. I would’ve liked to seen more detail in some of these areas, but it’s a minor gripe.
One area that Rule with an Iron Fish is definitely lacking is on the music.
That is to say, there really isn’t much of a soundtrack here at all. I think between the base and certain areas there are two orchestral tracks that repeat. Which is a downright shame as pirate themed music could’ve elevated the art style more. Instead, Rule with an Iron Fish has soothing water noises or stormy background noise. It’s a weird choice and it may have been intended for that relaxation aspect.
Like I mentioned before, I dropped seven hours into the game before it was all over. I didn’t catch every single fish so you may have a couple more hours if you are obsessive. From a replay standpoint there isn’t much, as the game is a one and done type of deal. Unless you enjoy starting over and collecting them again. Whatever floats your boat.
I do recommend Rule with an Iron Fish. It’s a pleasant experience and the writing shines. There are a lot of ways this game could’ve gone wrong but it managed to steer clear of all the mobile trappings and I am very thankful for that. You don’t usually see that type of thing when it comes to mobile games becoming PC games. From an innovation standpoint obviously, it’s lacking but it trades that in for an easy to play and enjoyable game. I don’t know what the future holds for this developer but I will be keeping an eye out for their future works for sure.