We know more about outer space than our oceans. Consequently, I, like many others, find sea life to be relaxing and fascinating. Therefore, when I was given the chance to look at Aquarist, I couldn’t resist. After all, who doesn’t want to run a virtual fish shop? So sit back while I dive into our o-fish-cial review.
This is a simulation title developed by FreeMind Games and published by Ultimate Games. Moreover, there are creative elements, some business management, and plenty of soothing fish to admire. As such, this will attract a vast audience of sim fans and people that want a casual experience.
Aquarist tells a familiar tale.
The sim genre rarely steps away from its familiar tropes. Unsurprisingly, Aquarist falls right into this trap as well. Now this isn’t an issue, as the gameplay is reassuringly recognisable. Furthermore, much of the action plays out like House Flipper or Castle Renovator. However, the key moments are more cumbersome to execute and this may cause frustration.
You play the part of a young fish enthusiast. His family is equally obsessed but his dad lacks the skill or know-how to keep the fish alive. Accordingly, you will help your friends and family before turning your attention to your shop. At this point, you are focused on making money and creating stunning exhibitions. Therefore, it is a game that tests your business mindset and your creative side.
Relaxing but repetitive.
Once you get into the swing of things, the sim genre is pretty repetitive. Sadly, as much as I enjoyed the causal gameplay, there wasn’t enough depth. Aquarist effectively asks you to shock shelves and complete basic contracts. Alongside this, you must clean aquariums, stock them with fish, and sell them to eagerly awaiting punters.
Alongside this, you can breed the fish to make extra cash. Furthermore, you must keep them happy by tweaking their environment. Subsequently, you’ll feed them, adjust the water temperature, alter the plants and decorations, and stock the correct number of creatures. If you do this, the fish will be content and breed. As a result, you’ll get rich in the process.
I was impressed by Aquarist’s exhibition gameplay. The interesting locations allowed you to set up some incredibly beautiful tanks. Furthermore, it removed the time-related stress that underpins the business elements.
Each of the exhibitions can be arranged however you wish. Whether you opt for fresh or saltwater fish is entirely up to you. Moreover, you can focus on a minimalist tank or you can load it with plants, rocks, or other random items. Whatever you decide, it’s bound to impress the crowd.
Aquarist looks like its peers.
This genre isn’t the prettiest or the most polished. There are, of course, exceptions, but normally, the developers focus on the action rather than the finish. As such, Aquarist looks like its peers. With rough textures, sluggish animations, and a rudimentary UI, I never liked it or hake’d it (see what I did there?).
The audio was mostly forgettable. A strange reliance on “hotel lobby” and “lift music” creates a slow but wholesome atmosphere. However, it is also tedious and underwhelming. Luckily, the sound effects are better as they add a layer of realism.
The contents made me feel crabby.
Oh, how I despise the controls! Aquarist handles terribly, and this holds it back. Moreover, the hero has the turning circle of a tanker and cannot walk backwards. Furthermore, trying to inspect your livestock is arduous at best. On top of this, it’s practically impossible to place items as you wish as the cursor isn’t accurate enough. Subsequently, Aquarist will make you feel crabby and disappointed.
The poor controls and repetitive nature impact longevity and replay value. What’s more, the limited time to prepare your shop reduces the enjoyment factor. Yet, if you focus on the exhibitions, it can be relaxing and rewarding.
Aquarist could be great.
I adore simulation games and was upset that this missed the mark. However, with some minor tweaks, it could be great. If the controls are sorted out and the business element enhanced, the gameplay will be much better. Accordingly, I recommend this to a niche audience or sim fans and fish lovers. Can you run a fish shop and let your creative juices flow? Breed fish, clean their tanks, and get rich in the process.