When looking at Megaquarium initially, you’d expect it to be just a theme park management tycoon game like Roller Coaster Tycoon or Theme Hospital, place all the right amenities and structures and you’re good. It isn’t like that. I would think it is more of a logic puzzler like the campaign of Cities: Skylines. Being able to arrange things is one of the biggest things to do.
Developer: Twice Circled
Publisher: Twice Circled
Release Date: September 13th, 2018
Review code provided by Twice Circled.
The developer, Twice Circled is only one guy named Tim Wicksteed. I’ve been a fan of this dude since Big Pharma. I find it amazing that he’s only one guy! Talk about being a very industrious person, right? Tim has been posting videos around Big Pharma which you can find here. It’s honestly really entertaining to see the man play the games that he made himself. He would sometimes throw a snide remark at some bugs that happen while he plays the game and I find that really adorable. Being a fan of simulation games and watching someone entertaining to play made me instantly purchase Big Pharma. I’m really happy for him that he made enough money to make a second game.
With that, let me break down my experiences with Megaquarium.
First of all, let me put it out there that at the heart of any Builder type of game, there is a lot of micromanaging involved. It’s what gets me to buy these kinds of games and Megaquarium certainly has that. It’s there in the tiny instances of choosing which aquarium to put and where, what fishes go with what and which employee would you assign to what zone. The main difference is that unlike other Builder games, it requires rearranging the location of the structures. It is like making sure that you have the right cogs in place for a machine to run, it has heavy emphasis on that compared to other builder games.
The game does try its best to teach you the nuts and bolts of game but it’s very text heavy! There is so much reading that I am sure people who aren’t already a fan can’t keep up. If it’s any consolation, the streamers might jump into this and make a guide. Tim also makes videos of this game so you can always watch him play as a sort of guide. However, I’d like it better if the game was able to guide me through those things.
Second, the pull of other builder games is being able to see the simulation run. There is that small happiness of seeing your creation evolve to something great. It might be a theme park and people start flocking towards the rides or seeing the traffic flow smoothly in your city. It’s different every game. It’s not here in Megaquarium, so better get your expectations in check. It’s not as flashy or gorgeous as other games. It’s a bit on the cartoon side and the humans that walk around seem pretty bland. I like that they have text saying their needs and wants but it doesn’t seem enough. I would like a bit of fun clutter or flavor on my visitors and I’m sure that’s very easy to add. Since Megaquarium seems to have gone to a bit of funny, cartoon and not serious atmosphere, I’d like my NPCs that walk around to reflect that as well.
It’s great that this game is extremely light. I can totally see myself downloading this on a laptop while playing it on the go. I mean, this would be a great game on the Switch, if it can get a port. After all, it’s powered by Unity.
Fourth is that it has really nice music. The thing with simulation games is that you will spend countless hours hearing music in the background and it certainly is pleasing for me! Music has a really big impact on these types of games because when you go through hyperspeed, the music is all you have. I normally have music playing in the background so during my first play through, I had to check the title of the song on Spotify because it was so good. Lo and behold! It was the in game music after all!
Next is my issue with the isometric view. It runs on the same problem it had with Big Pharma. The fact that it’s isometric means that it’s a chore when arranging things around. When you’re arranging minute details, like doors or walls it definitely needs effort because you had walls to deal with. It was a bit bearable for Big Pharma because the machines were huge but not so much with Megaquarium. Thankfully, you can pick up pesky visitors that are in the way when you’re building. I feel like it’s like playing Sims 2 with a storyline. A bit clunky and definitely needs getting used to.
Lastly, since this is made with Unity, it is definitely clunky as hell. I like clean beautiful interfaces. A really good one is a work of art. My favorite ones are from Frost Punk and Endless Space. I get it, he’s only one guy who is making this game and he is certainly commendable for doing this much in just a few years. However, I would appreciate it if the interface was less clunky, minimized when they needed to. I want that there are small absolutely helpful notifications when you get them, like highlighting which aquarium I’m checking my fishes.
Nevertheless, I’ve sunk countless hours into this game and it’s definitely worth buying. I can totally imagine streamers playing this game and it would be entertaining to watch. If you’re a streamer and you do end up buying this game after reading this review, send me a link and I’ll watch you play!