XBOX REVIEW | Harold Halibut

XBOX REVIEW | Harold Halibut

A handmade narrative game about friendship and life on a city-sized spaceship submerged in an alien ocean

Slow Bros, a German independent developer, first began work on Harold Halibut way back in 2010. They decided to take an unconventional approach. Everything that you see, such as the characters, textures, furniture, clothing, buttons, doors, and even the screws holding everything together, were physically handcrafted then digitally scanned into a 3D game, resulting in a visually stunning and lifelike world rendered in real-time. In Harold Halibut, you play as Harold, a janitor aboard the spaceship named the Fedora. During the peak of the Cold War in the 1970s, the spaceship Fedora I, controlled by the All Water corporation, was sent from Earth to find a planet for humankind to colonise. Unfortunately, during a solar flare, the Fedora crashed into the ocean on an alien planet.

Harold Halibut is a narrative adventure, where you move around the Fedora, which is like a small underwater city, completing tasks, helping other characters where you can, and trying to find where you fit into this new world trapped at the bottom of the ocean.

ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on X!

DeveloperSlow Bros.
PublisherSlow Bros.

Harold out for a wonder

Things I liked!

  • Story | Once you have played for a few hours and met some of the weird and diverse characters, you begin to get a glimpse of the story and where it may lead. The Fedora spaceship needs a new power source so that it can launch from the depths of the ocean and look for a new habitable planet where everyone can call home. As Harold does odd jobs around the Fedora, he begins to feel more confident. While some of the characters do talk down to Harold, there are just as many who really do value him, and this shows more and more as you play.
  • Graphics | The graphics really are something else and look incredible. The amount of effort that has been put into making them look this impressive is truly remarkable. The stop-motion effect does a great job, and often, you feel like you could be watching a movie, not playing a video game. As you move about the Fedora you can look outside the windows and see a vibrant, oceanic, watery world which reminds me of the game Bioshock. Harold Halibut also has two graphics modes: Quality (4K 30fps) and Performance (1440p 60fps). I played in Performance mode for this review.

  • Sound | The voice acting is brilliant, and you can tell that they had lots of fun working on Harold Halibut. Each character’s voice sounds very unique. While they may sound slightly old-fashioned at times, like something from the 70s, they really add so much to the game. The soundtrack is also top-notch, with plenty of quirky songs you hear as you advance the story. As you might expect, the sound effects are also spot-on, from the sound Harold makes as he runs around the Fedora to the sound the all-water tube system makes.

Somewhere beneath the ocean

Neither good nor bad

  • Movement | Harold’s movement at times felt slightly awkward. For instance, when you approach another character and choose to interact with them, if Harold’s body is not in the correct position, he will move around slightly to get into the correct position. This can take a few seconds, rather than just standing where he is and letting it flow, which would look more natural.

  • Gameplay | While the gameplay keeps the story going at a steady rate, I did often find that it was all a little simple and never really felt like a challenge or that anything was too difficult.

Let me in!

Things I disliked!

  • Slow-paced | When I first started playing Harold Halibut, I found the pacing of the game to be very slow-going. Harold himself comes across as a pretty boring person who just goes about his daily duties as a janitor, cleaning and tidying up after others, while simply letting other characters he meets speak down to him. This actually reminded me of a few jobs I’ve had and how I was sometimes spoken to. It’s not really something you might expect to see in a video game. Had I not been reviewing Harold Halibut, I really think I may have stopped playing after 2-3 hours, but I am glad I kept playing.
  • Repetitive Gameplay | Some of the tasks that you have to complete, especially during the first half of the game, can get very repetitive and boring at times. For instance, relaying messages between characters when they could easily meet up and save everyone’s time.

How long did I play the review before publishing? 17 Hours
How long to beat the story? 12 Hours
How many Achievements did I earn before publishing? 19/27
How long to achieve 1000G | 18 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | This Bed We Made and Oxenfree


78/100 ⭐ After a very slow-paced start to Harold Halibut, I am so glad that I kept on playing and got to see all that this wonderfully crafted game has to offer. Apart from a few pacing issues early on and a few repetitive quests from time to time, I did enjoy my time playing Harold Halibut. The voice actors are all incredible and bring a lot to Harold Halibut. Once the story gets going, you won’t want to stop playing until you see the credits rolling at the end. I can’t wait to see what Slow Bros do next.