Megaquarium was officially released yesterday on 13 September 2018 on Steam. It was developed and published by Twice Circled. It is a theme management style game where players have the opportunity to run their own aquariums. It is currently on sale with 10% off the retail price on Steam.
AIR Entertainment was fortunate to receive a code for reviewing purposes.
If you are subscribed to AIR Entertainment’s Youtube Channel, you can catch a glimpse of AIR Entertainment’s gameplay video along with some other game videos. For your convenience, you can also watch it here below:
Megaquarium lets players live their dream of owning their own aquariums and stocking their tanks with exotic fish without the massive real-life expense that comes with it. It starts with a small setup initially, but players can expand the building in order to place larger tanks for their newly researched fish.
There are two modes: Campaign and Sandbox. Campaign has the same feel as Theme Hospital, where you start at an aquarium with a set number of objectives. These can range from placing your first tank with fish, decorations, heater and filter, to researching new fish using ecology points, to researching new equipment using science points.
Ecology and Science points are obtained from the visitors. Once those doors open, the visitors stream to your tanks and view them, providing stars, ecology and science points while they view. This enables the research to increase and popularity to rise. As soon as one reaches a new level, new fish and equipment can be researched.
The visitors will also need to be taken care of. Tired visitors need benches, thirsty visitors need vending machines and litterbugs need bins to throw their trash away. One can also place staff doors so that only staff can access special areas where food, equipment and tool stations are stored. Not that the visitors can actually do anything to the items, but for peace of mind and order it is better to just close them off from the public.
Sandbox mode allows one full control of researching any fish and equipment and building a mega aquarium. or Megaquarium, without the hassle of objectives. However, the campaign mode is more fun as players are able to unlock new areas with harder objectives which gives one that sense of purpose. For a relaxing time to do just what one wants, though, Sandbox is perfect.
The User interface is very simple and easy. The left top menu area deals with the space and items in your aquarium. One can remove items or walls, expand the aquarium space to make it larger, place walls, move items around, or place platforms.
On the left side, there is a bar with the functions needed to run the aquarium. This is where one buys different types of tanks, which are unlocked as one levels up. New fish can be purchased, as well as the equipment and food needed to keep them alive.
On the bottom left horizontal bar is the information panel. This provides helpful information such as credits, research level and stars. On the right, one can pause or fast forward time, hire staff to feed the fish and clean the aquarium floors, and also save the game.
The top right panel provides information on the fish in the aquarium and lets one toggle between on-screen information displays. One can view the happiness of the fish, how many times tanks have been viewed per visit, or the wear on the equipment.
One of the most helpful gameplay mechanics are the information bubbles that appear on the fish and the visitors when things are needed. When one builds a tank and puts new fish in, a few bubbles will appear telling players what they need. Either the water will be too cold, or the fish will need orange pellets or muscles for food, or the air quality is too low. Visitors will have sleeping signs (zzzz…) revealing that they need benches to sit on, or a cup to show they are thirsty.
All in all, the developers have made it rather easy to play, and players will find it hard to be at a loss as to what to do next, unless they reach one of the more harder levels.
SOUND AND GRAPHICS
The game is presented in a cartoon style animation, with an orthographic eagle eye’s view of the aquarium for easy management. In a way, much of the graphics reminds one of Theme Hospital more than any other theme management game, with the exception that one can build the rooms as one pleases and is not limited to styled rooms for different functions. The floor is yours, so to speak.
What makes Megaquarium quite exciting is that one can zoom right in to floor level and get the perspective of the visitors. Sure, one can’t walk around like a visitor, but rather fly around like an overhead camera. Looking at the wonders one has put together is an amazing feeling and fills one with a sense of pride.
The fish that are unlocked become more colourful and stunning the further one progresses. The intense mixture of colours, items and visitors provides the eyes with much candy once the aquarium becomes so huge that it is hard to manage. And then one can sit back and proudly say “I did this.”
Each level comes with its own soundtrack with wonderful beats to them. It makes it a pleasure to sit and play through levels and does not distract from the game itself. There are helpful ping notifications to warn one that something is happening somewhere in the aquarium and requires the player’s utmost attention.
Megaquarium brings back that Theme Hospital game style. If one ever wanted to run their own aquarium, but could never afford it, here the chance to simulate that dream. Games like this always have a fond place in players’ hearts, especially those that love theme simulation management type games.
Will the potential for endless replayability, and the chance to play a theme management game that brings back that same love that Theme Hospital did, this game deserves a full 10/10. AIR Entertainment looks forward to seeing more games like this from this developer.
Disclaimer: AIR Entertainment received a review copy for reviewing purposes. This review is the author’s own opinion and not influenced by the developer in any way, as per our reviewing Code of Ethics.
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