It’s funny that when Two Point Hospital came out, I made a comment to some friends “I’m all over a management game that isn’t set in a hospital.” Sure enough, developer Twice Circled released Megaquarium on September 13th which was not that long after I made such a statement…
Megaquarium is exactly as it sounds. Players create epic aquariums full of fish, accessories, and gift shops. It has two different game modes to play and I have been enjoying this title. Though, it’s not without some minor challenges.
One man development team Twice Circled created Big Pharma, an indie title back in August of 2015. Tim Wicksteed had worked on a couple of indie titles before coming up with Big Pharma. As a result, he saw positive results from the game, prompting him to self publish his most recent title Megaquarium.
The Fishy Concept
The objective is to make large and pretty aquariums that run smoothly. As I said before, this is a management game so players are tasked with keeping customers comfortable and hiring maintenance staff.
If a player adds too much to the aquarium, the public will become bored, which hinders your reputation. In order to unlock more fish and accessories, players have to reach a benchmark reputation. With that in mind, the key to this game is remembering that less is more.
Not only do players get to increase their reputation by buying popcorn machines, more comfortable seating, different wall types, washrooms, and balloons, they have to also keep everything in working order.
Players must hire staff to take care of the place. Each worker has different stats, which becomes important later in the game. These workers feed the fish and maintain the filtration systems, heaters, and clean the aquarium. Because the workers are integral to a players’ reputation, having a smaller aquarium is more beneficial. The reason for this is because a smaller aquarium reduces the risk of dead fish due to poor upkeep. Dead fish also means less reputation for your aquarium, so don’t let them die!
The Graphics and UI
Megaquarium graphics style doesn’t have to be over the top because its not needed for this type of game, but also because there are many moving parts to consider. Though, despite its simple concept and style, it has some hidden features that would be more useful on the main UI.
Currently, top left functions are used for expanding, decreasing, or manipulating the space and objects – like moving a tank or demolishing an object.
Down the side of the left are functions relating to reputation boosters and tank maintenance. This includes buying fish, filtration systems, and bathroom stalls.
On the top right are buttons that assist the player in fish maintenance and reputation boosts. (Like how many fish can fit in a tank, percentage of customers viewing a tank, and how much heat/water is needed)
One of my gripes about Megaquarium is once a fish tank is placed, it CANNOT be expanded. In order to have a larger tank, a new tank has to be placed, the fish moved, then delete the old tank. For smaller fish, this isn’t such a big deal but if a fish takes a few days to grow to it’s full size, it might be more beneficial to move them independently instead of demolishing and buying new ones.
Pro tip: If you want to get rid of something in a tank, click on the tank, press the demolish button or ‘x’, and click on it.
There is a sandbox mode in Megaquarium that allows players to free play without objectives. In this mode I discovered features of the game I didn’t know about in the story mode.
Unlike in story mode where different things are slowly introduced, in sandbox mode players are able to immediately access fish at a specific research level. If a player chooses level three, for example, they only have access to objects and fish up to level three. It also means that players have to build up their reputation to access higher level items and fish.
Sandbox mode also lets players use the levelling ability of the workers. This is not a function available to early levels of the story mode. Something to note about levelling is that hidden in individual worker screens is the option to set their working zones – a feature that becomes extremely useful in larger aquariums. Unfortunately, because the zones can only be seen in individual worker screens, a player has to be looking at a worker’s screen to set or alter their zone. And at the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a zone display – a feature that should be added to the UI, in my opinion.
Furthermore, sandbox mode has smaller objectives for players to complete like housing fish for short periods of time. After completion of these missions, players are rewarded. Because of this, Twice Circled has made Megaquarium dynamic enough to keep players invested in their businesses.
Megaquarium is a casual management game that challenges a player as they progress. In fact, it is a game that is suitable for all ages and is great to play after a stressful work day. It’s relaxing, not taxing on computer systems, and amusing to play. Since the game would periodically crash for no reason, and since certain functions of the game are not readily obvious, I will give this game an eight out of ten. I’ve dumped a good amount of time playing Megaquarium so, if casual management games are your jam, I highly recommend picking up this game!Score: 8 / 10