Megaquarium (PC) Review

By Lilly K. 09.12.2018

Review for Megaquarium on PC

The strategy-simulator game Megaquarium has been released on the 13th of September, 2018. The developer, Twice Circled, was founded only a couple of years earlier by Tim Wicksteed, who works on developing games by himself. The company is based in Bristol in the UK, and previously released Big Pharma, which focused on running a pharmaceutical company. This time around, in Megaquarium, the player is required to build and run a public aquarium. Along with a campaign that can be followed, there is also a possibility to freely play and build an aquarium.

Megaquarium seems simple at first glance, but once one gets to try it out, he or she will realise it to be more challenging than expected. The campaigns are structured very well, with an easy-going pace that introduces gameplay mechanics well, and each level is just a little harder than the one before, so with each step up new challenges arrive. The pacing of the campaign mode never seems too fast or too slow, which makes playing it rather enjoyable. The difficulty can be adjusted, as the player can choose from easy or normal, to hard or brutal. These are available for both the campaign and the free play parts. As a whole, this delivers to both players hoping for a challenge, and players wanting to relax through building an aquarium.

This is good as it leaves you with a choice. As for the gameplay, it consists of building tanks for fish, and filling them. Fish have different needs, ranging from different kinds of food, to a need for plants or rocks. While different types of fish can share a tank, it must be taken care of that they are no threat for each other. Additionally, different fish are different sizes, and therefore need different sizes of tanks as well - and as they grow larger, it's important to take their later stages into account. This ensures that this does not turn out to be dull after a while, but it can be difficult to determine which species can be housed with others, especially due to them growing.

Screenshot for Megaquarium on PC

Whether or not some fish get eaten by another species depends on their respective sizes, which means in turn that if one grows faster than the other, it may suddenly be going to eat the smaller fish which it had not been interested in before - there are no warning signs about whether a species is in danger to be eaten in a mixed tank. This can feel somewhat unpractical, as it forces the player to open up the information panel for each fish in the tank to check on their fish preferences. Then again this makes building mixed tanks more challenging for the player.

It can be assumed that in a real life aquarium setting, it would be unlikely as well to get warning signs about one species eating another, so from that perspective it does make sense - it would nevertheless be nice to have something like an overview panel. While building the aquarium, it is also not clear which fish have already been bought. It can be challenging for the player to keep track of which fish they still have to buy, and which aquarium has which type. Although the player can obviously click on a tank to check on the fish and the appropriateness of the tank, there is no overview of all tanks.

Screenshot for Megaquarium on PC

The individual tank view will, however, tell the player whether the water quality and heating (or cooling) is appropriate, and it will also show whether it has the right amount of plants, rocks, or hiding space as needed by the fish in said tank. These requirements can change when fish grow, so it is important to check tanks regularly. Again, this can be tiring because of the lack of an overview panel, thus you'll have to check on things manually, while trying to remember what has already been checked and which one haven't - definitely a big flaw in here.

Fish can be bought, grow, and die from a variety of different causes, including low water quality, insufficient heating, loneliness or being eaten by another fish. When something dies it reduces the prestige of the aquarium, and prestige are basically points needed to level up. What fish cannot do is reproduction and dying of old age. This is a little disappointing, as it keeps the aquarium very static with little change after the fish have reached their maximum size.

Screenshot for Megaquarium on PC

Note that a staff is needed to run the aquarium. They are not only in charge of feeding fish and repairing broken machinery, but also cleaning up after aquarium guests, refilling the merchandise stock, and giving talks about different species. Managing the staff correctly can be challenging, even when employing all members available. These will also need a pay-cheque, so it is important to balance income and expenses. It is also important to not burden staff with too many tasks, for example by making the aquarium very large. This can result in staff not managing to feed every fish every day and in fish dying. Although it is possible to rate importance of tasks for each staff member, it is still surprisingly hard to ensure the aquarium is running smoothly.

While this can be annoying at times, it is a challenge that is needed for the gameplay to stay interesting. Also note that guests need to be catered for, with seating, food, drink and toilets having to be provided to earn prestige. Luckily, this is not too difficult. Each item will show an area of reach when placed. Since the focus of the game lies with fish, it is good that this part is a lot easier to cater to. Finally, while the game design and look is quite simple, it is surprisingly colourful. This makes playing Megaquarium can be quite relaxing and pretty-looking, and the choice of music only helps. This is not a game someone can stress over, which makes it enjoyable for people preferring to relax while playing or are simply in the mood for something relaxing.

Screenshot for Megaquarium on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

While Megaquarium is fun and challenging at times, it tends to become a little repetitive after a while. A few more different challenges would help, while at other points it would have been nice to see an overview panel to make it easier to organise things. The gameplay can easily get messy, which is a shame considering the idea and the colourful setup. Nevertheless, the game is enjoyable and relaxing, and a player may well find themselves playing for hours.

Developer

Twice Circled

Publisher

Twice Circled

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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