German developer Slow Bros has certainly lived up to their name: it’s been fourteen years since they gathered for dinner and serendipitously decided to make a game! Despite lacking the technical knowledge to actually make one, they set out to create a cinematic narrative adventure. Well, where most saw barriers, Slow Bros saw an opportunity. They spent those fourteen years meticulously handcrafting every facet of what would eventually become the story of their clay baby boy, Harold Halibut.

Harold Halibut tells the story of, well, Harold. Despite his tired eyes, Harold is a twenty-something lab assistant to the lead scientist aboard the FEDORA I - an ark-like spaceship submerged in the endless sea of a toxic alien planet. For anywhere between twelve to eighteen hours, players are guided through a telltale story exploring what it means to be human, our place within the universe, our friendships, and what it truly means to go (or not go) with the flow.

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Things get interesting for Harold when he’s awoken by a loud alarm in the middle of the night. For two hundred and fifty years, the five generations of Fedorians who have lived, worked, and died aboard the city-sized vessel have been completely alone in the universe. All that changes when Weeoo, a fishy-alien person known as a Flumylym gets caught in the ship's water filter.

Weeoo lifts a mirror to Harold’s life. Like the age-old parable of an older fish who crosses paths with two younger fish and asks, "How's the water?”. Eventually, one of them looks at the other and asks, “What the hell is water?”. Comparably, Harold hasn’t questioned his life. He’s been busy seeking purpose from others and resenting his ancestors for his role aboard the FEDORA I. His mindset begins to shift when he befriends a carefree Flumylym who encourages him to question the banal platitudes of life’s daily rules and rituals.

We know, we know, the whole “sci-fi Noah's Ark” thing isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination but refreshingly, that isn’t really the point here. Sure, it’s important that FEDORA I has enough energy to keep its denizens alive and breathing - and Harold will play his part in all that. But for us, the real essence of Harold Halibut is following the day-to-day life of a young man who’s just trying to figure his sh** out.

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Of course, there’s plenty more to the story. We especially loved moments when Harold stopped paying attention to his PDA, and started transforming boring moving tasks into ingenious games of Tetris. And that's not all! Harold can be found singing opera within the water filter, and acting as Agent Harolson alongside a rabble of mischievous kids. But we’ll stop there and let you discover the story beats for yourselves.

If we’re being honest, whilst the Halibut may be a flat fish, elements of the overarching narrative still suffer from a fair bit of bloat. For those of you who just want to enjoy a game with steady pacing, the often obstructive nature of Harold’s life might frustrate you. Maybe they’re building empathy? Who knows… But if you’re in it for the long voyage, you will find charming, profound, and deeply funny writing waiting for you aboard the FEDORA I. The type of dry humour that keeps you smiling when life aboard the submerged giant gets heavy.

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Harold Halibut explores themes of the mundane, life and death, and what it means to be ‘home’. This particular reviewer found himself welling up whilst delivering lost mail to complex and burdened residents. But don’t worry, all sorrow was quickly lost to watching telly in the lounge, and chuckling at each ridiculous commercial wedged between parts of the Turkish telenovela, Sonsuz Ask.

But let’s not beat around the kelp here… In terms of visual style, what Slow Bros has managed to achieve with Harold Halibut is nothing short of brilliance. Taking clear inspiration from stop-motion greats like Aardman, Laika, and even Pingu, Slow Bros opted for handcrafted props, Claymation characters, and even welded set designs. These are scrupulously scanned into the game through a process known as Photogrammetry.

Alongside his shipmates, Harold was sculpted in clay, painted and dressed in hand-stitched finery, and then extensively photographed from every angle - imperfections and all. These 3D character models were rendered and rigged using motion capture techniques, resulting in a stop-motion aesthetic. Stop motion, in its raw simplicity, is a medium best known for breathing life, fingerprints, and brush strokes into its characters. It seems only fitting that Slow Bros would be inspired by this approach when developing a game all about a man exploring what it means to exist. Aesthetically, its retro-futuristic vibe is both sensitive and deliberate and in our view, it's one of the best-looking games on Xbox. Yeah, we said it.

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In their own words, Slow Bros has described Harold Halibut as a “cross between game and stop motion film”. If you head into this expecting the bells and whistles of the Fortnites and Call of Dutys of the world, then you’ll probably nope out pretty quickly. Besides the odd minigame here and there, you’ll spend a lot of time hopping between Districts via ALLWATER’s soggy tube system. We appreciate that Harold Halibut is essentially a ‘9-5’ simulator, but getting out of your bed every morning, walking through the same corridors, and tubing from one location to the next does get tedious. Not to mention, each time you step in and out of the tube system, the ALLWATER announcer repeats the same selection of lines like some type of corporate Furby.

Finally, a quick note on Harold’s performance review. We played through the entire game on Xbox Series X. Although Harold may not be as quick as Buddy the postie, we’re happy to report that he does manage to maintain a consistently smooth 60FPS. This, of course, was in the game’s performance mode, which runs at 1440p at 60FPS. If you’re keen on 4K visuals, you could knock it up to quality mode at 30FPS (but shh! I heard the internet hates 30FPS now, so best keep your happy 30FPS attitude off Twitter). That being whispered, we would recommend playing in performance mode because it runs nearly perfectly, and you’ll hardly notice a difference in visual fidelity.


Harold Halibut is a heartfelt and handcrafted tale of human existence, delivering charming, profound, and deeply funny writing guaranteed to put a smile on your face. What Slow Bros has managed to achieve with its visual style is masterful and, for our money, it's now one of the best looking games on Xbox. The gameplay can feel repetitive at times, and the writing can drag in places, but ultimately we had a great experience seeing it through to the end. If you’ve got a Game Pass subscription, it’s worth checking the game out for its aesthetic alone. Harold Halibut won’t be for everybody, but for those that resonate with its story, it’s sure to stick with you for a long time.