Harold Halibut









Genre: Adventure    

Developer & Publisher: Slow Bros.             

Released: April 16, 2024               

Requirements: OS: Windows 10, Windows 11

Processor: Minimum, Intel Core i5 7400/AMD FX 8370;

Recommended, Intel Core i9 140900K/AMD Ryzen 5 7600X

Memory: Minimum 8 GB RAM; Recommended, 16 GB RAM

Graphics: Minimum, Nvidia GTX 1060/AMD RX 480;

Recommended, Nvidia GTX 3060 Ti/Radeon RX 6800

DirectX: Version 11

Storage: 56 GB available space

SSD and controller recommended








By flotsam


Harold Halibut

Slow Bros.

Harold Halibut casts you as Harold, on board the spaceship Fedora and assistant to the ship's lead scientist. It’s been 250 years since all on board fled Earth and found themselves unexpectedly marooned at the bottom of an alien ocean. Where Harold goes about his days tending to the fish, and the All Water Company is all powerful, and some on board still work towards leaving the watery depths.

The game apparently began life as a conversation in 2012 about an affinity for stop-motion and adventure games. The construction of dollhouse sized sets and puppets followed, and the eventual result was this, a self confessed cross between game and stop-motion film.

If you don’t like stop-motion animation, you should. It’s a painstaking labour of love that deserves your appreciation. The end result is generally a visual feast, accentuated by knowing what went into its creation.

This is no different. As the maker says, welded metal, textiles sewn against tiny wooden floorboards and clay faces the size of walnuts help to immerse us in Harold’s tactile world. It looks sensational, and I loved wandering around inside it.

What didn’t do it for me so much was the fact that it leaned too far towards the stop-motion film side of the equation. Too often I wanted something to do, irrespective of how much I was enjoying the cutscene playing before me. And by something to do I don’t mean walking from point A after one cutscene finishes to point B in order to trigger a similar something to do. 

To me, this was the overall weakness of the game. I hadn’t been aware of the game/movie cross before I started, so that played into my feelings to some degree, but I still felt in hindsight that it needed to be more ‘game-ish.’ Or rather that I wanted it to be that way. More puzzles and less meandering and watching and being told it was time to sleep.

I accept though that this is to a certain degree upon me; if I don’t pay attention to the nature of the game, I can’t legitimately grumble if it doesn’t meet my desires.

And yet having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed the 10 or so hours that I spent with Harold.

Much about the game sparkles. The plot is elaborate and is just as elaborately written, the NPCs are many and engaging, the voice acting right across the board is exemplary, the cutscenes are cinematic in their quality and the musical score is equally top notch. I defy you to be un-pleased by any of those things.

And I already lauded the visual aesthetic.

Harold himself needs a mention. He starts as a bit of a hapless soul, the butt of jokes as a result, but there is a strength that comes to the surface as things progress. I liked him a lot, both in his doggedness and his willingness to take things head on. He is a worthy protagonist.

Harold plays in the third person, usually with a side-on perspective but not always. Certain locations will have a much more dynamic ‘camera,’ moving and shifting as Harold moves about. I thought the way the POV was used worked well, helping to accentuate the openness of some areas and the restrictive nature of others.

The construction and presentation of the visual world also works well. Harold generally moves left or right and the world scrolls as he does so. He might though move away from you in order to access a stairwell to a lower level (as indicated by the signage) and as he does so the stairwell will be revealed and be pulled into focus. If he enters a shop or a room, the perspective might zoom in and everything else fade from view, the inside of the room being the only thing visible in an otherwise black screen. Or it might do something else. Punctuated by the cutscenes, it results in a dynamism that helps bring things to life.

Load screens occur, usually when you access the ‘tube’ system in order to access another area. You will spend a bit of time exploring the various areas to see what is what, and what is where, and where the various tube stations can take you. You do have to do a fair bit of back and forth, irrespective of whether you are wondering and wandering, so its worth a little bit of mapping.

It isn’t a hard game. There are only a few out and out puzzles, the conundrums being predominantly fetching and carrying tasks. Your PDA will identify both the main tasks and various optional tasks, so you will always know what your next objective is. Hotspots are also indicated by a very large teardrop as you get close so there is no hunting involved. You will also receive messages through the PDA, which might just be chatter but which might also be relevant to e.g., an item you need to locate. Items you do need and have to find will just be used where needed, so there is also no inventory management.

I did, though, focus almost exclusively on the main tasks, so perhaps some of the optional tasks are a tad more tricky.

There were some sequences towards the end where you are in charge of a ‘vehicle’ and where the objective eluded me. However it didn’t seem to matter; at one stage I did nothing at all and the sequence ended with me being where I needed to be.

Which all means things keep moving along, and which suits the movie paradigm.

The game utilises the keyboard (you can put your mouse away) and it autosaves exclusively. There were times when I had to play beyond when I wanted to stop in order to generate a save, but not very often. On the whole I found the autosave feature worked fine. You can choose to continue from the last saved point, or load a number of previous save points should you wish to.

To repeat myself, despite wanting more to do at times, there was so much good stuff going on, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Harold.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz

RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB


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