Under the sea, under the sea. Everything's better down where it's wetter... especially since the original PC game won multiple awards and critical accolades when it released back in 2007.
Aquaria's long-awaited mobile debut is just as whimsical and compelling as indie gamers may remember, but adds a brand new tactile dimension.
Deep within the labyrinthine underwater caverns of Aquaria, a fey and mysterious creature known as Naija starts to tire of her meaningless existence.
Much like Ariel from the classic fairytale yarn, she yearns to learn more about the world around her as well how she came to exist - and her curiosty launches players into a lengthy and exiting exploration of the dark demesnes beyond the sea.
Essentially, Aquaria subscribes to the 'Metroidvania' (gosh, we do so love our labels) formula - exploring an intricate and lengthy selection of tunnels, acquiring new abilities, discovering treasures and optionally backtracking to unlock new areas. It's a thoroughly addictive framework - with Naija's thrill at new discoveries mirroring your own - and Aquaria ultimately succeeds thanks to its innovative and effective execution.
Controlling Naija is as effortless as poking, holding and dragging at the screen, allowing her to manoeuvre past enemies and hazards or cling onto walls. Prodding around the environments is a tactile delight; adding a deep level of interactivity that far surpasses the original PC version. Unfortunately, combat becomes somewhat fiddly.
More exciting, however, are Naija's abilities - which are triggered by singing. Naija's voice is capable of summoning spells and skills, accessed via a radial menu that challenges you to mix and create your own melodies with simple finger swipes. As she learns new skills, her world expands, and the thrill of continual discovery will keep you hooked to your iThing for many hours.
Treasures and items abound, and once again, Aquaria fully encourages you to mess around with them by combining random selections of ingredients into new edible treats. You'll learn certain recipes as you go, but you'll get a certain satisfaction from just experimenting
Aquaria's story is thought-provoking, moving, pretentious and overtly arty; it's fun to uncover, but won't keep you coming back. Rather, you'll spend hours just enjoying the experience itself - revelling in the vibrant watercolour world and immersing yourself in the constant joy of new discoveries.
- Effective and satisfying exploration
- Compelling and complete
- Fiddly combat
Summary: Aquaria is a wondrous and whimsical journey designed to indulge your curiosity and satisfy your urge for exploration. More than that, though, it's just a beautiful place to be.
Developer: Semi Secret Software
Compatibility: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.
Price: £2.99 - App Store