An aquarium building and maintaining simulator, Aquarist is a casual and ever-expanding game. There is a lot of detail and realism here so fish and real-life aquarium fans should take note. It is just odd that so much attention to detail was placed in the gameplay elements but so little emphasis was put into basic quality of life features.

Although the game starts small by building a tank in your bedroom, eventually the game grows into running a store, unlocking so many things along the way. It is also impressive that certain types of fish can only survive within certain conditions such as temperature and ecosystem.  Even if you don’t care for fish, there is a lot of edu-tainment value in this simulated biology lesson. 

Unfortunately, playing the role of aquarium custodian gets tedious to the point of game breaking thanks to minor flaws that add up to something big. For example, there is no option to invert the Y axis making the game literally unplayable for me. It is 2022. Including the option to invert the camera in any 1st or 3rd person game, whether it is action based or not, should be the first feature implemented. I guess it was never a thought since this Switch version was ported from PC’s mouse controls.

The interface goes out of its way to explain the next steps in building your aquarium empire but then leaves out other critical information. You might know you need to purchase a thermometer for your tank, but you don’t know how or why it spawns on the shelf behind you. Making matters worse, the visuals can be so dark in areas that you cannot see the things that you purchased unless you coincidentally move your cursor to see the prompt. The menu selection is also misleading as you cannot distinguish which menu element is selected; I mistakenly sold so many items instead of confirming purchase. The jazz soundtrack also feels highly out of place and the camera movement is also much too fast and inaccurate especially when trying to pick up tiny things on a dark shelf.

So much detail went into the fish, expansions, and always giving something new to the player but then completely omits basic features. This bizarre juxtaposition of gameplay priorities can make the experience nearly unplayable but deserves applause for being so truthful to the sim aspect.

SCORE: 4/10

Not As Good As: winning a baggie goldfish at that local fest

Better Than: having to flush that won goldfish two days later

Wait For It: Iguana simulator

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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