The console space has been steadily getting more tycoon building games but even today the selection is still pretty sparse. Sure you have things like Cities: Skylines but compared to the variety you can find on PC your options are still limited. One more addition has just been added to your possible options to play and it’s Megaquarium from publisher Auroch Digital and developer Twice Circled. Megaquarium is all about letting you build and run your very own aquarium but is this a business you want to invest in?
When you dive into the game you can start off either with the Campaign mode or the Sandbox mode. I’d personally recommend starting off with the campaign because it provides quite a few useful tutorials that will teach you about the different things you’ll be working with and you’ll have an easier time getting assimilated with the game that way. You are also given the option to choose from one of four difficulty settings: easy, normal, hard, and brutal. Each difficulty will change different factors like your capital costs, how fragile your fish are, the chance of fish eating each other, the cost of animal food and salaries and so on. I like the wide range of choice here so that newbies (like me) can ease into this style of game while veterans can opt for a bigger challenge from the start.
The campaign consists of ten missions and once you start off in the game you’ll just be a small start up business until you learn the ropes. You’ll learn the basics and start placing the first few fish tanks into your layout. Fish tanks also require you to place heaters and filters for them that also take up space on the floor. Early on my place wasn’t the most appealing visually because I didn’t have a ton of options for placing these heaters and such for the tanks. As you get further though you’ll be able to better organize them and you’ll want to as customers don’t want to see those things, they’re just coming in to see the fish. Once you get your tanks up and going and get some fish in them then customers will start coming in to see what kind of aquatic life is on display.
Once those customers start coming in you’ll start making money that can then be used to further grow your business. You can’t run this thing alone either so you’ll have to hire workers to help you out and of course they need to be paid too as people can’t work for free you know. Along with more tanks and fish you can also purchase other things such as decorations to further make your aquarium more visually appealing. You also have to make sure you have concessions for people to enjoy during their stay and a place for them to relieve themselves. Another thing you’ll earn when people come in and visit over time is these skill point things. These can be spent to unlock and add new species to your tanks which will then bring even more people in. There is a good selection of species in the game too ranging from a variety of fish, turtles, sharks, crabs, etc with there being over 90 in total. The gameplay loop is satisfying as I was constantly making money and spending money to get more and more fish in my place.
Speaking of those fish you’ll of course have to take care of them or else you won’t have any for customers to come see. Every species is different from the next and they all have different eating habits and different things that make them happy. Some species will require you to add plants to their surroundings or something for them to take shelter in. Others thrive by having other fish around them. Learning about all of them and their needs is challenging and you’ll no doubt lose some along the way, such is life. Once you get done with the campaign mode you can jump into the sandbox mode to keep playing. This mode gives you a ton of options to modify such as unlimited money, what kind of animals are available and so on. It’s really well thought out so you can get plenty of more mileage out of the game here.
Something I haven’t quite touched on is the controls which for this kind of game can be worrisome on a console. I found them to be quite intuitive though on the Dualshock 4. You move with the sticks and can easily select objects in the environment and move them around to your liking. If you end up doing something by mistake there is button to quickly undo it. Menus are tracked to the d-pad and are fairly easy to navigate. When it comes to the graphics though the game leaves something to be desired. As you can tell in these screenshots the art style is kind of flat and basic and is just honestly unappealing at least to me. It all ran fan in my time playing but I would’ve like to have seen a more appealing look to the whole thing.
Despite some nitpicks with the visuals in the game Megaquarium is a great addition to any tycoon fan’s library. The transition to console feels natural and great thanks to an intuitive control scheme and the game will keep you busy with a huge variety of aquatic life and items to grow your aquarium with.
*Megaquarium is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.