Humble Bundle with Android 6 ReviewGuest_Jim_* - June 21, 2013
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As a name like Aquaria would suggest, this game is set underwater and you play as a mermaid. Being underwater means you have free-reign for your movement, as you can simply swim up and down as needed. Being an adventure game though, there are some paths that are initially blocked, but after acquiring the proper skills, you can unblock them.
In this game your skills are tied to what is called the Verse. The Verse is a mystical energy that permeates the world around you, and by playing the correct songs, you can harness it. The first song you learn channels the Verse into a protective shield for you. Later you learn how to pick up large objects and become filled with energy, giving you offensive capabilities. As a regular mermaid you have no ability to attack, but you are able to swim fast enough to outrun most anything.
The graphics on both the PC and Android version look quite good and preserve the game's hand-drawn style. This style does work well for the game, as you are mostly free to explore and take in the beauty of the world. On the PC you do have some graphics options within the game, such as resolution, the fullscreen setting, and even V-sync. Additional options can be set from a launcher. The Android version does lack some options, by the nature of being on a smartphone, but you are able to control some graphics options. Unfortunately I cannot include any screenshots from the Android version as some elements, including most of the gameplay, were not captured. (User interface elements were, but you could not see the character or environment.) You are also able to remap the key bindings on PC, which like graphical settings, can be missing in multi-platform games.
The music is very fitting for an underwater game, at least according to the standards set by other soundtracks during underwater scenarios. Notes often have a reverb to them, as though they are traveling through a medium like water, as opposed to air. There is an assortment of instrumental sounds used, but either by processing or design, they sound artificial.
The gameplay itself I found enjoyable, but I must stress that it is not very exciting. There are moments of action, but I largely was experiencing peaceful exploration. Of course I only played for about two hours, so it may change later. There is a specific reason I stopped playing at two hours, and I do want to speak about it.
For many activities in Aquaria you are told by on-screen tooltips what to do. The save system, however, leaves out a very critical piece of information. The game uses a checkpoint-like system for saving, with large red crystals being the places you are able to save. That much it tells you and every time you run through one of these crystals, a smaller graphic of the crystal appears and flies to your mini-map. I took this to mean that the game was saving automatically to the save slot I had selected the first time I saved. That is not the case. To save you must actually double-click the red crystals, both on the PC and in the Android version. Why that graphic and animation when you pass through the crystals even exists, I do not know. At about two hours in I came across a boss, died, and ended up losing all of my progress, because I thought I had saved just a moment before. The actual save mechanic is explained within the help text, but I only saw this after losing those two hours of gameplay.
Now that you have the benefit of my experience with the save system, I have no negatives to say about the PC version. As I said, the gameplay is enjoyable but not very action filled, so you may only find yourself playing it to pass time, and not with great fervor to finish. The Android version, however, I do have to make an additional comment about. The controls are, for me, less than ideal. The default touchscreen controls can be difficult to apply with large-ish fingers on a smartphone-sized screen. Enabling the virtual-joystick did not do much to relieve my control issues. The joystick itself was placed so far to the side, where it cannot be moved from, that I was occasionally finding my thumb slipping off-screen. Of course if you do not drag your fingers further than needed, this will hardly be a problem, but that is my habit to ensure the joystick is pointed in the correct direction.
Overall, the game is worth playing; more so if you greatly enjoy more artistic, less-action-filled games. With the great value you get from the bundle to begin with, I can say it is worth getting for this game alone, if you want it.