Harold Halibut Hands On: A Heartfelt, Handmade Tale About Fish, Friendship and Finding Home

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From the moment you set eyes on it, it’s clear that Harold Halibut is a particularly intricate labor of love. A narrative adventure set under the sea, the game places you in the squeaky shoes of its titular protagonist Harold, a lab assistant working aboard an underwater spaceship. 

As Harold, you’ll bimble around the confines of the (admittedly, quite large) spaceship, cleverly separated into different districts by the game’s water tube system, which essentially fires humans through little pipes to their destinations. Along the way, you’ll encounter a quirky cast of characters, all busy with their existences but ready to involve Harold in their wacky goings-on, whether it’s looking for a lost pet bird or helping the local shopkeeper win back his wife’s love. The characters spread around Harold Halibut are written brilliantly and bursting with a quintessentially British humor. 

The premise of Harold Halibut is equally as fascinating. Without giving too much away, Harold descends from a small colony of explorers that ventured out to find a new planet to inhabit. The ship ended up stranded underwater, and generations of humans have managed to survive and thrive there. As you progress, Harold starts to uncover stories about the history of humanity, the fate of Earth, and the people he’s surrounded by, all while proving to himself that he’s capable of bigger things. 

The delightful writing is encased in Harold Halibut‘s most obvious quirk – the game is physically made out of clay, every asset you see in game is handcrafted and then digitally scanned into the game, which is an utterly incredible process. This method makes Harold Halibut feel pleasantly retro, harking back to 90s point-and-click adventure games like The Neverhood, but with a slick, modern feel. 

Harold Halibut‘s stunning retro-futuristic aesthetic is also complimented by some incredible audio design; every interaction, conversation or environmental noise comes with a satisfying crunch that makes you feel like you’re really in the room with Harold. The pairing of the sound and handmade visuals together gives Harold Halibut a super unique visceral joy, making even an empty corridor or quiet room feel immersive and interesting. 

You’ll visit most of the game’s environments and speak to its cast of characters repeatedly to uncover their stories, but stopping to explore these gorgeous environments never feels like a chore. The game is filled with lovely little puzzles and mini-games too, which adds a pleasing level of interactivity to the walking and talking you’ll do each in-game day. Harold Halibut wants you to pay attention to the little things, its quirky set dressing, subtle, silly jokes, and the thought that has gone into those things is truly rewarding. 

I only spent a few hours with Harold, but I’m already enthralled with where the narrative is going, and what weird and wonderful creatures I’m going to encounter on Harold’s journey to resdicover Earth. Harold Halibut is shaping up to be an incredibly special game, and one I can’t wait to play more of.  

Harold Halibut is set to launch on Xbox Series X|S and via Game Pass on April 16. 

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