Last year, one of my gaming highlights was Fatum Betula, which offered a really surreal experience. Whilst appearing to be a tiny PS1-looking game, there was so much hidden depth to uncover that you could spend hours uncovering new stuff.

Now Bryce Bucher has released his new title, Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia, on the Switch and I am absolutely ready for it to be funneled into my veins.

Can it live up to the greatness of Fetum Betula?

Many thanks to Baltoro Games for the review code.

The game dumps you onto Lake Ophelia with no explanation and a fishing rod in tow. Right away, the fifth generation console graphics are spot on. It hits those nostalgic notes perfectly, whilst also being visually impressive too. Bucher continues to show off his mastery of this art style, and it never fails to impress. The music too is both suitably relaxing and haunting in a way that provides pleasant accompaniment to the slow-paced nature of the game whilst also warning you of the eldritch undertones that await you.


Despite the quietly unsettling the nature of the presentation, along with the developer’s reputation, there’s surprisingly little emphasis on horror here. Anyone expecting the game to open with a fishing premise and then go off into something totally bizarre will no doubt be left disappointed. The game certainly carries a sense of foreboding, particularly as you progress, but this game is about catching fish and upgrading both your rod and lure. 

As someone who doesn’t care for fishing games, I found myself with rather mixed initial impressions of the actual gameplay. The default control mapping felt quite uncomfortable for me and there’s no way to change it in-game either. The primary buttons are mapped to the bumpers, and the inventory on the trigger, which is something that I never got used to over the four hours of playtime. The game also offers pretty much no explanation as to how everything works, leaving you to figure it out for yourself. Once I had pieced together how things worked, I started to have a lot of fun with the gameplay loop, but there were certainly some teething issues going in.

How fishing works is actually relatively simple. Holding the bumper button allows you to aim where you cast your line, which will then be thrown providing that you aimed it within the reach of your particular rod. Lures can sink a certain depth, starting very low, and have a certain degree of attractiveness to the fish. A lure with higher attraction will allow you to entice the fish from further distances, but you still need to get pretty close to the fish for it to take the bait. With a fish on the line, you then need to start reeling it in; however, you’ll need to ease off if it starts struggling else it will break free. The downside is that not actively reeling makes the fish pull further away, so it’s a good idea to lightly tap it in order to make sure it doesn’t pull too far away. A caught fish can be logged into your fishopedia before either being sold or cooked – the latter providing a cooked meal that will increase your luck and maybe help you encounter one of the rarer species.

Lake Ophelia is a pretty small environment, with essentially the large lake being the main point of interest. There are a small number of other areas you can find, but these are relatively minute. It feels very small in scope, and unfortunately there’s no additional areas to discover like in Fatum Betula. As the name of the game implies, your exploration extends to the water with you aiming to fish deeper and deeper for better fish that will net you more money that can be used to purchase better stuff from the creepy dude that hangs around near your tent. It’s a neat enough gameplay loop for those who like fishing games, but some of the prices can be pretty high and the sensitivity of some fish (I’ve had some ignore a lure right in front of their face!) can make it a little frustrating for those simply wanting to make more progress. It’s a very slow-paced game, so patience is very much a requirement. Those who are looking to leisurely spend their time finding all the different fish will no doubt get the most from the game.

The fishing is not all there is to the game, though. The main highlight for me was the hidden lures scattered around the map. There are only a handful, but it was always exciting to discover a new one and they can be very useful in the early game too… if you can find them. There’s one close to the starting area that resembles the beast from Fatum Betula, which is unable to sink to any real depth but has a particularly high attract rate that will help you catch fish far easier as you’re getting to grips with things. I was saddened that I found a lot of them in the first half of my playtime and didn’t discover anything extra after that – although It is possible that more were about that I was unable to find.


There’s a pretty fun fishing game to be found at the heart of Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia, and fishing enthusiasts should enjoy filling up the fishopedia with a vast array of fish – from the traditional to the bizarre. Progression can be quite grindy, however, which is something that may put off the people who just want to see what horrors lurks beneath the lake. If you can accept that the game that is 99% fishing with only a dash of horror then you’re sure to have a great time at Lake Ophelia; if not, you may end up feeling a tad disappointed.