Deep in the Ocean of Gaming Lies a Pearl...
...And Aquaria is that pearl. This Indepedent (or Indie) game by Bit-Blot, consisting of two developers and a voice actor, shows us that video games have been, can be, and always will be an artform. A vast, glorious world filled with ancient ruins and exotic creatures, Aquaria takes us Under The Sea in a truly unique fashion. Let's delve right in.
The game starts off with our protagonist, Niaja, living in a cave, peacefully eating fish and occasionally resting on a rock to ponder life, the universe, and everything. Eventually, she gets curious of the world outside her cave, and swims out to take a look, sending her life topsy turvy. Getting started in Aquaria is easy, Niaja's Voice Actor smoothly explains the controls to you, and it quickly becomes easy to move around in this watery world. She also explains to you this thing called The Verse, which is Aquaria's magic system. It works as a wheel of 8 or 12 notes (can't quite remember) that must be hovered over to work. Once hovered over, Niaja will sing that note. String together the right notes, and the magic happens. The system is effective, at first, and very neat. But the novelty wears off once you find yourself having to deal with an ambush of enemies and you need to switch forms quickly. Thankfully, forms are also linked to the number keys, thus, later in the game, you'll only need the Wheel to solve puzzles.
Aquaria was made in late 2007, three years ago at the time of this review, and still blows me away with its scenery and soundtrack. This game looks and sounds beautiful no matter where you go, whether your in the ruins of an ancient city or the depthes of the abyss, there's always a site to see and a sound to hear.
Storywise, Aquaria starts off slow and presents questions that don't get answered until later in the game. But once you get into the Open Waters and start exploring this land, many, many of those questions get answered. Sometimes subtly, other times not so. Aquaria is not entirely concerned with telling a story at first, as it's more interested in having you visit each and every nook and cranny. Once you get near beating the game, though. Everything picks up in a great and suspenseful climax.
All in all, Aquaria is a gem, definetly worth a pickup and play, with very few issues. I give it a 9 out of 10.