Tuesday, 9 July 2013

DEAD! Neil returns from *REDACTED* only to die at sea

Neil here.

Where have I been? Well, I can't really say. Remember that huge nuclear attack that wiped out most of Europe last week? No? That's because I'm good at my job baby. Moving on...

Now where were we? Ah yes, Aquaria. Last time I scribbled about this I got nicely tucked into the opening hour of a seemingly inoffensive little indie number about swimming around a little underwater maze. Around and around and around I'd go, making little splashes and singing to aquatic fauna. Yey.


There's nothing particularily hateful about Aquaria. It's been quite well made, the graphics have a charm in a kind of PopCap way, and the sounds and music are all delightful. The problem that exsists however is that the swimming machanic is by no means as pleasant as the developers (and possibly Ben) seem to think it is.

I get the idea that I'm supposed to be soothed by the tranquil nature of a little nymph (not that kind) delicatley swanning peacfully around an aquatic maze, watching the fish mull about and dodging the odd splash of mild peril. My god though it drove me to distraction.

This is about as exciting as it gets. See that eel? Yeah, just there. Woo.

I think the chunk of coral stuck in my foot is my absolute hatred of mazes. Stick a maze in a game and I instantly switch off. Solving a maze is zero fun. Now, introduce a little mechanic where I can place my own breadcrumb trail, or perhaps sign the wall of the underwater hamster run so I can navigate around and I might be interested, but solving an endless grey warren of grey corral using nothing but memory whilst doggy paddling at infuriatingly low speeds drove me off the waterfall and into a hair pulling white churn of anger.

I was teased with promise of some bullet hell at one point but dunking me back in paddling mode only made things more frustrating. I could never find my home base. The bizarre mini map seemed to want to help me but refused to do so clearly, so I couldn't for the life of me find my way around. Add to that a truly bizarre check-pointing system that meant that every time I got bored and turned it off I restarted AGES away. I've completed the maze-symbol-spinny-rock-picking-up-puzzle FOUR times now.

Completing said puzzle led me to a power which allowed me to move rocks around, ones which I had recalled seeing dotted around the place. Back through the maze we go to unlock further parts of what could be a dungeon only to find out I wasn't in the right one and had to waddle over to the other side of the map to progress further. A map I might add, that as well as being a confusing underwater ant farm decides to add further misery by using currents to force some access routes as one way systems. Drowning at this point is starting to become quite alluring.

If I have to solve this door puzzle ONE MORE TIME I'm going mermaid fishing.

There are the occasional threats in the murky puddle you're plodging around in. These come in the form of horizontally obsessed turtles with little spikes on their shells, and the odd jelly fish. And to end on as wet a note as possible, this is how my Ferengi lugged fish met her end. At least I think it is.

Whilst playing through, I had adopted a position of my right hand on the mouse, and my face almost completely engulfed by the palm of my left hand. Slumped in my chair, I was keeping my head only just above a comatose level. My eyes were definitely wandering and I was beginning to drift off, but I was determined to not have to repeat this affair again. And right then, is when I bumped into a terrapin and died. 

I hadn't been looking at my health at all. So submerged in depression I had become that death literally suprised me. I thought the big dying fish face on my screen was a cut scene triggering, and it took a while for my final passing to really sink in. 

What?! Oh do sush.
I still can't bring myself to really hate the game though. There were promises of fireball filled action later on, but I just didn't have the will to even attempt to get there. Despite barely paying attention at all I still managed to get almost two hours into it. I would perhaps recommend reading Ben's account as I do believe he quite enjoyed dipping his toes in Aquaria. Hell, his screenshots alone even make me wonder what I'm missing. However, I couldn't be happier that my time with this has settled on the ocean floor with a slump so I can move onto something more exciting, which after playing this, is almost a guarantee.

I think I just broke my record for ocean related references. Coming up with those was more fun than Aquaria.

Status:   Sunk
Time:     Don't Know
Reason: Don't Care

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