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LudoNarraCon Mini-Preview: Fishbowl looks to be an emotional story of loss, loneliness and finding the joy of life through it all

It was only last year in September when we covered Bitsummit and discovered, amongst the many wonderful indies, a little gem called Fishbowl. Debuting as the first title for the two-person team at, Fishbowl is a story of a young woman named Alo and her life in a new city.

Our initial playthrough of the earlier demo gave us a light taste of the cozy gameplay and the beautiful pixelated graphics, but this latest peek shows us a little bit more of the game’s emotional writing.

Key art for Fishbowl. The title is white in a lowercase pixelated style. It's laid over a painted-looking scene of a young woman with purple hair in a purple dress and white turtleneck, in her room. She's sitting on the floor looking at a wind-up toy fish in a fishbowl with a wistful expression on her face. There's a window or door with open curtains showing the night sky, a steaming mug, a computer monitor, and a lamp shining on and highlighting a picture of her as a kid with her mom and grandma.

Just the Facts

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5

Release Date: TBD

Early access to demo provided by developer.

The last time we played Fishbowl, we had gotten a chance to speak with the developers, Rhea Gupte and Prateek Saxena to find out a bit more about their inspirations and plans for the game. At the time, the two-person team from India had just decided to go full-time into developing the game, planning to work on it for a few more years. 

Since then, the game has been featured in a few more showcases, such as the GameMaker booth at Gamescom, India Game Developer Conference (where it was named Upcoming Game of the Year Runner Up), and the London Games Festival, to name a few. Another change since then: Fishbowl will not only be released on Steam, but also on the PlayStation Store. 

No matter what changes have taken place during its development, however, Fishbowl still remains to be an intimate and cozy experience that focuses on the story of Alo and her journey through a new city, a new job as a video editor for a big social media star, and dealing with the loss of her grandmother — all while far away from family and friends.

A gameplay GIF from Fishbowl. In a UI like a video editing program, several bars in different colors move up and down several rows labeled B-Roll, Graphics, Locked, Images, Text, and Locked, sort of like a rhythm game. Each block corresponds with one of the sections by color and the player is sorting them into the correct one by moving them up and down the rows.

The first few moments of the new demo mostly remain the same as the first Fishbowl demo released. We see the intro with Alo taking a video call with her mother, where we learn a little bit about her situation starting a new job in the city. She then arrives back at her new home to find a parcel from her mom waiting. We are introduced to the first minigame — a simple move-the-block puzzle — to reveal an old wind-up fishbowl toy at the bottom of the box. She's surprised to find it amidst the package of precious belongings from her recently passed grandma.

The house has a few more bits of flavor text and interactables in comparison to the earlier demo, and it helps us players learn a little bit more about Alo and her home.

Interacting with the PC introduces us to the next minigame, where we “edit” videos, per Alo's new job. The minigame consists of an almost rhythm-game-like sequence where you align colored strips — video elements like B-roll, text, and images — sliding in from the right side to their proper row as indicated on the left. Once you've moved the strip to its row, you can hit "quick edit," auto-forwarding the strip to the leftmost side. This color matching game is not particularly challenging, but it’s also not laughably easy. In comparison to the first minigame, this was a bit more engaging.

As Alo finishes her work and gets the chance to lay down in bed, we enter a black-and-white, hazy dream sequence. This is the point where the demo most differentiates from the original one. The dream sequence is a bit longer, and has a few branching points, each of which starts to give us a peek at the emotional impact of the game.

The writing is simple yet beautiful, and I found that as Alo went through dreams recalling the loss of her grandmother in pieces and flashes, I related with her feelings easily — especially as someone who has experienced the loss of a close grandparent. The dream sequence ends with Alo seeing what seemed to be a safe space to hide away from her hurt, and encountering the very same fishbowl toy that was just sent to her that day.

The writing shown here made me feel confident that the topics the devs wished to tackle through the game will be handled with gentleness, grace, and sensitivity.

An in-game screenshot from Fishbowl. In a dream sequence, Alo stands in a black void looking at a room like a youthful fort or a child's room with planet mobiles, pillows, and a fishbowl in the middle of the room. A text box says "Somebody is happy to see you."

Alo wakes up with her pixelated self aglow, and we see that in the dimmed living room, the fishbowl is also glowing. The player is prompted to interact with the fishbowl. In the original demo the game ends here, leaving this first interaction a mystery. But this time around, we go through the sequence, and Alo is surprised to learn that her old toy talks back to her — and that this is not a dream.

Paplet, as the toy fish is called, is a happy little fish toy who seemed to want nothing more than to play with Alo once more and help her recall happy memories with them. Paplet shows Alo a happy memory of her as a child with her grandmother, and the description the game uses when Alo hugs her grandmother resonated deeply with me. I felt like it would be how I would describe hugging my grandmother would be like. Again, simple but beautiful writing.

The memory fades to black, and so ends the demo of this beautiful cozy title. And what a wonderfully short but sweet experience it was. The demo made me even more excited for the whole game despite the still to-be-determined release date. It also made me curious as to how it will handle future interactions with Paplet, who seemed almost too positive. Overall, the writing shown here made me feel confident that the topics the devs wished to tackle through the game will be handled with gentleness, grace, and sensitivity.

An in-game GIF of Alo in a call with her friend Zuari, a thin Black woman with curly black hair and vitiligo. She has kind brown eyes and smiles sweetly in reaction to Alo's words.

I can’t wait to see what other minigames will be added to the game, and of course, to see how Fishbowl's touching story will unfold. To me, the demo is exactly what you’d want in a game demo: a small taste of what is to come, just enough to whet your appetite and get you looking forward to the game’s release.

Be sure to check the game out on Steam or PS5 and add it to your wishlists. If you’re a fan of cozy games with well-written emotional narratives, Fishbowl is one you’d want to keep an eye on.

Check out more of our LudoNarraCon 2024 coverage and watch our playlist of LudoNarraCon demo playthroughs on YouTube, featuring Naetoid, Fernfolk, Mercutiglo, FishpasteGG, and Svideotheque!

The LudoNarraCon 2024 key art depicts a forest scene where a young witch does some spell atop a log stump. A dog wearing a wizard cap is at her feet, looking at a stone creature she seems to be working with. Strange robotic creatures walk around the log stump and statues with bright spotlights in their mouths can be seen at the edges of the forest.


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