Fish Fillets NG is a freeware port from a Linux game of the same name. Though offering interesting and challenging puzzles, the other aspects of the game have little life, and detract too much from the game itself, such that one is left bored and frustrated within the first few minutes of playing.
The introduction to Fillets is non-existent. Though the main menu screen claims to have such an introduction, you are met only with a screen saying “Under Construction”, as well as scrolling text giving you a website to download the introduction video from. This is a poor start to what is, ultimately, a game that winds up being fairly lifeless.
The first two levels of the game give you a tutorial on how the game is played, and what all the rules are. You control two fish, and can switch back and forth between them. The goal is to be able to move your two fish through a series of obstacles and off screen, on to the next level. If one fish dies or is trapped, you have to restart. You are able to save at various points through the level, and restart from there, which is quite helpful, as you will inadvertently kill your fish with a good deal of regularity.
The tutorial fills you in on every way your fish can be killed (which, it turns out, is a lot of ways), and every way you can actually move objects. If you move an object along one of your fish’s backs, for instance, this will kill the fish. If you move the fish and an object on their back, this will kill your fish. However, you can move your fish around with an object on its back, provided the object itself doesn’t move. Unless, of course, it’s moving the object onto an adjacent rocky outcropping, in which case your fish can move something there. These, and more, are the rules that are explained to you in the tutorial, done through text instruction, and the game moving the fish for you. The tutorial itself is overly long, and in no way entertaining. It presents the information, and shows you the fish doing these things. Aside from the fact that I was bored throughout, the rules themselves were overly complex, at least to be presented in the form they were. I stopped paying attention partway through, and just figured it out through simple trial and error, in half the time the game took to explain it all to me. Furthermore, you can’t skip over this, as it comprises the first two levels that you must travel through in the game.
The graphics for Fillets are fairly basic. They are workable, and in a more enjoyable game, I would let them pass. The fish are rather bland, and the backgrounds are uninspired. The game has a somewhat cartoonish feel, but not in the manner of a fun cartoon. Rather, it comes across as a bland cartoon trying to teach you something on a Saturday morning, when you just want to see a group of felines, trained in the art of the samurai, with an affinity for Italian cuisine. Likewise, the music was dull, and vaguely annoying.
The puzzles themselves are rather challenging, which is the main bonus of the game. If you like to actually sit and figure it out, you can garner some enjoyment from this. However, you will more likely spend your time engaged in trial and error, trying different ways of doing things, to the point that each level becomes tedious, especially when you’re reminded that you should have moved something at the beginning, and now must restart the level. The save option is good, but not when it comes to having to restart the whole level to move one little object.
Finally, though the puzzles are enjoyable, they are hurt by the consistent text popping up at the bottom, trying to give you hints or ideas. This does not help the game play, but hinders it. Too much text coming at you is frustrating; what made it worse were the spelling errors in the text.
Overall, Fillets was a dull, lifeless game. There is potential, as the foundational puzzles are a good challenge. However, there is too much else that detracts from them to make it worth the download.