Forget hospitals, theme parks or entire cities: Megaquarium tasks you with building your own aquarium.
From developer Twice Circled, Megaquarium is a management sim game that puts you in charge of your own fishy tourist attraction. Starting off small with ordinary-looking tanks filled with fairly ordinary-looking fish, you’ll progress through a steady series of levels, unlocking better equipment and more exotic fish as you go.
It might be missing the comedic charm of Theme Hospital or the newer Two Point Hospital, but with a simple but attractive art style and easy to grasp keyboard and mouse controls, Megaquarium soon draws you in. Seeing your aquarium grow is rewarding, and unlocking new equipment, allowing you to make bigger and better areas for your guests to explore is exciting.
It’s not so easy though. Megaquarium isn’t just about building a fancy-looking sea life centre; different species of fish have vastly different needs, and so not only do you need to keep your guests happy, but you also need to keep your fish happy. And alive. Preferably alive.
What starts off fairly simple soon gets complicated as you need to monitor your fish’s water temperature and filtration levels. Each tank holds a different amount of fish, and depending on the species’ size, some fish take up more space than others. Those things alone are easy enough to monitor, but you’ll soon unlock more exotic species of fish that have much more complex needs. For instance, ‘Bully’ fish can’t be placed with fish that scare easily. And some large fish might eat (!) some of your smaller species. Then there are some fish that don’t get along well with their own species, so can’t be placed with any others of the same breed. And that’s all just for starters.
Obviously, designing an interesting and well-laid out aquarium is important, but not as important as managing the needs of your aquatic residents. More than anything, Megaquarium is a puzzle game. There’s strategy involved in making sure you’ve got everything you need to progress, but figuring out the best place to house your fish to ensure they’re all happy feels most like a logic puzzle than anything.
With the likes of Planet Coaster and Two Point Hospital leading the way in entertainment sims, perhaps Megaquarium will never rule the genre. But it’s different enough to warrant your time. Managing fish might not be as exciting as curing people of their Bloaty Head, but it’s bright, it’s colourful, and it’s a lot of fun.