Aquaria

You remember the Humble Bundles, right? I remember when I looked at my Steam game list years ago, and realized that most of them were from Humble Bundles, and that I hadn't even played most of them. So I picked one from the list and started playing. Aquaria was at the top of the list, so I started with that. That was over 5 years ago.

Screenshot of Aquaria, with Naija floating in a bunch of seaweed.

Holy crap, this game is long. Well, not 5 years long, but still. I guess that these 2D adventure games are not my style, though I completely understand why some would adore them. There is plenty of gameplay challenges and depth. After some research, this is a Metroidveinia game. I've never played Metroidveinia. While everyone else was having nerdgasms over N64 and Playstation games, I was busy building cities and fighting alien armies.

The lead character, Naija, is some kind of underwater nymph, or fairy, or something. Like most great playable characters, she has a severe case of amnesia. She inhabits her underwater cave, living carefree until some spirit comes to her. This leads her on a journey that takes her far from home, and has her discovering dead civilizations, killing gods, taking their forms, and getting revenge.

Art of Mithala.

This game is beautiful. (Is everything hand-drawn?) It looks like someone turned up the resolution on a SNES game. It recalls a time before 3D was the new hotness.

Naija has several forms that are invoked by singing a song. Each form gives Naija a special ability, like swimming against currents, assualting enemies, planting flowers and thorns, and shining light. It seems that the inhabitants of this world were all musically inclined, and that they all had the same set of symbols for each note. In game, this is called the Verse: a sort of energy that binds the universe together.

Screenshot of Naija fighting.

Crafting is limited to cooking. You gather raw ingredients from the world by killing creatures and ripping up plants. You get recipes by encountering them or by experimenting. Cooking is required to progress in this game.

I attempted to play though this with a gamepad. It's almost there, but not completely, and I needed to switch to keyboard and mouse for extra precision sometimes. I might not be a good shot, but I kept missing what I was aiming for. The menus aren't fully suited for gamepad navigation. Naija jumps around spastically when not in the water (probably because she's a fish). This is certainly an old school game; it's difficult and there is no difficulty setting. It does not guide you around.

This game seems alright, but it's not my cup of tea (and that's OK). I'm glad I'm done with this game so that I can cross it off my list.