Let’s face it: Mobile games aren’t exactly known for being narrative driven. Are you really all that concerned with what makes the birds in Angry Birds so angry? Are you invested in their plight, or do you just want to launch them at some poorly constructed buildings? Probably the latter, right? And that’s fine. Generally when you’re playing a game on your phone or tablet, it’s because you don’t have the time or attention that you would while sitting down in front of the TV or computer to play. You’re less immersed in a story and more distracted by an action. Mobile games are supposed to be time killers, but Big Fish Games wants to break that mold. It has a story to tell in Fetch, and it’s a story you will not want to miss playing through.
Big Fish Games spared no expense when developing Fetch and it immediately shows. The visuals are not only stunningly gorgeous but are also stylized in such a way that makes it stand out from any other experience you’ve ever had on your iPad. Past games have shown us the graphical power of mobile devices, but few have ever created something so eye-catching. It’s color palette is so perfectly presented that every frame looks like it’s been hand-painted.
Equally as impressive in Fetch is the emphasis on story. You play as a young boy – also clearly the target demographic of this game, except gender neutral - who has been segregated from his beloved dog. The four-legged friend has fallen into the possession of malicious corporate robots and you must retrieve him, a task that will require you to take course on a pretty epic adventure. The story seems like it was picked up from a Pixar script that was never made because the morality is a little too straight forward. Good and evil can’t be drawn too much clearer than a boy and his dog versus heartless hunks of metal that work for a slimy megacorp. But that doesn’t make it any less worth telling.
And tell a story, Fetch does. Though it’s billed as an action-adventure game, it might be best to approach Fetch as more of a point-and-click adventure with action interludes. After your dog is captured by a robot in a fire hydrant disguise, you take to the sewer to start your quest. From that point on, almost everything on screen becomes interactive. You can click on just about any part of the screen and have something occur, though it often doesn’t actually drive the story forward. Regardless, the animations are fun and pretty slick, never bogging down the game. They’re often an entertaining extra.
Of course, sometimes the sheer amount of interaction works against Fetch. There are moments that you are required to move to an object before interacting while others you can access at will. The lines on this are never really clearly drawn, which can make for the occasional confusion in figuring out what you’re supposed to do.
Throughout the majority of the game you’ll be trying to find arcade cabinets, which is where the action comes in. The games present different challenges to you and they play a lot like flash games you might have encountered during various bouts with boredom on the Internet. Never too difficult than a very basic puzzle, the arcade games break up the adventure aspects well enough, but they aren’t overly memorable. They exist just to spit out an item that you need to continue advancing the story. But that’s what we’re here for anyway.
Unless you’re an absolute completionist, Fetch will probably be a fairly short experience, no longer than, say, a kids movie. Really, that’s what the game is. It’s an interactive kid’s movie that you can hand off to a young’n and know it won’t frustrate them but will keep them more than occupied for an extended stretch of time. A full play through, especially for someone who has played a fair share of flash games and adventure titles, probably won’t top the ninety minute mark or so. Regardless of length, the storytelling and amazing artistry that are on display in Fetch makes it an experience well worth having. It’s not the best game you’ll ever play, but it might be the most memorable game you’ll encounter on the iPad.