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Aquaria
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 9:33 pm    Post subject: Aquaria Reply with quote

I bought this the other day, and I'm really in two minds about it now. The demo really excited me, and since I bought the game I've been hooked, but I'm now beginning to have doubts about it. It looks beautiful and plays smoothly, but I'm getting the feeling that it has had too much attention perfecting the details and not enough in shaping the game as a whole.

Before I go on, I'll reiterate that this game is truly beautiful. I'm staggered by the quality and detail of the environment. And I've spent about eight hours absolutely in love with the game, so don't think from what follows that it's an awful game that I hate and have been inexplicably forcing myself to play it in misery. It's just a game that demonstrated amazing promise and now I'm not so sure it's going to continue living up to my expectations.

Aquaria is heavily exploration-based, but as the game opens up and gives you more space to explore it doesn't offer a significantly improved way of moving around that space. I frequently find myself making huge trips across areas I've already explored to get to somewhere I haven't, only to find out when I get there that I can go two steps before meeting a dead-end or an obstacle I can't yet get past. (I've figured out that I'm missing some ability to move through jets of steam that seems to be related to blue crystals, I'm missing another ability to generate light or see in the darkness, and that I either need some way to swim against strong currents or to otherwise circumvent them.) It gets really tedious to swim backwards and forwards trying to figure out where I can actually go. A defence of this I saw posted on their forum is that you can complete the game in 2 hours if you know where to go, and therefore there isn't too much travelling, but that's exactly my problem. The distances are no problem if you only have to cover them two or three times. The point is that when you don't know where to go you will retrace them dozens of times. The desire to explore is deadened when you realise that you need to spend ten minutes getting to the place where there might or might not be able to do something, and if you can't it'll take another ten minutes to get back. (I may discuss this on their forum, but I'm a bit apprehensive since it seems to be slightly hostile to criticism.)

The game also has a very steep difficulty curve. The demo really doesn't prepare you for this at all. All of a sudden you start facing massive numbers of creatures shooting at you and ramming you. I don't mind this, but it's not the sort of game I was expecting. I thought from the demo that my girlfriend might like it, but it becomes such a twitch game that I'm quite certain she'd hate it.

Right now I'm stuck at a boss fight. After spending ages thinking I was hurting it but not getting it to die, I looked for advice on their forum and discovered that shooting it causes it to flash yellow, but that this doesn't hurt it. I personally think this is bad feedback - if I'm not hurting him he shouldn't flash - but as I haven't actually killed him yet I couldn't honestly say. It might be that you do have to shoot him and do something else. I caught a glimpse of some instructions on how to beat him, but to be honest they haven't helped much. He seems far too complicated to be the second or third major boss in a game, especially when none of the mechanics for fighting him seem to have been introduced separately.

Who else has it? Any thoughts?
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Blizgerg



Joined: 09 Jan 2005
Posts: 155
Location: The Planet Stinky Socks



PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the game. I haven't had as much trouble as you with going back and forth. I really like it a lot. Once you get a little further than where I think you are (boss in the Mithalas temple?) you can start getting to the ancient sea turtles (have to be able to swim against currents) and they let you do some warping around.

I think the writing on the wall in the bosses room gives some hints as to how to beat him if you can decode it. (it was very fun trying to decode the writing) Here is a hint I think that wont spoil anything, I hope. I figured out that you can beat the Mithalas temple boss with nothing but the base form and the bind song and shield song. You might need fire form only if he grabs you.

I really like this game. It is very beautiful. I have been playing for over 24 hours of time already.
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I eventually beat him, and things seem to get smoother. The things I object to are: 1. you have to guess to use the bind spell on an enemy, when the spell hasn't worked on enemies previously; 2. you have to lure an enemy into a trap that transforms it into a different kind of enemy, when there's nothing to lead you to believe this might happen; and 3. there is positive feedback when you shoot the boss that leads you to believe you're hurting it when you aren't. To be fair on point 2, I think there might be a point earlier where you could observe this sort of trap, because I remember seeing something that looked like it, and I know that I've encountered both forms of enemies, but I don't recall actually seeing the trap transform the enemy before.
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Ren Fraggle



Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 31



PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think they tried to give a hint at the start of that area when you go straight down from the start, and there's a small area where you see the green smoke and some zombies for the first time. The problem is the zombies are transformed before you ever see them, so you don't get to connect the two. I have to agree, that puzzle wasn't very clearly designed.

For the most part, I am enjoying the game as well. I thought the map was opened up a bit too much after the home area, and at that point there are a lot of monsters to get though. Those areas do get a bit easier when you get some of the other forms, and I think it was meant to be played that way. They put a hint when you first get out about where they want you to go, but the fact that the whole place is open makes people want to go everywhere.
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Crussh



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Sweden



PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love Aquaria to death and i think its just fun that the bosses offer a real challenge other than just take a hundred attacks and die. ^^
By the way have you guys found Li yet?
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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd buy it if I could get to the end of the demo Smile I met a strange woman, had some kind of vision, now I'm swimming around a maze and I'm sure I've been past that rock before ...

It's absolutely lovely though isn't it, very pretty.
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KingAl



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 16



PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha, yeah, before you reach Home Waters it's a bit overwhelming. There's a hell of the demo left to go.
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Crussh



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Sweden



PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poo you know that theres a map right? It shows where you have been too. Laughing Its the little thing at the bottom right corner of the screen, just double click it.

PS. It comes with a very pretty editor too, now if only i could get Naija's powers working in editor mode...
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This game drives me crazy. When it's good it's very good, but when it's bad it makes next to no sense. It's like it's overflowing with promise and yet keeps doing things that fill me with frustration. The puzzles just seem too obscure, and the boss fights are awfully difficult. I just fought the Golem, and had to resort to looking for advice. It turned out that I'd stumbled on half of the solution, but given up on it because it made no sense and I hadn't gotten any feedback that I was going in the right direction. Spoiler (highlight to read):
(You have to eat the jellyfish that seem to come out of his brain and then you can spit them back as weapons. You have to spit them at his companion whom all your other shots go through. I fired one or two at her and missed, but didn't persist because it takes ages to get the jellyfish and I didn't see any reason to believe that they wouldn't pass through her like everything else.)


The game is infuriating in exactly the same way as those "find your way out of the locked room" flash games. I don't think I'm particularly stupid, but I don't have the patience for them. I would expect a modern game to "foreshadow" complex puzzles by introducing the elements slowly over time. I suppose it's a bit unfair of me to use a big professional game as a comparison, but Portal is a great example of what I mean. The puzzles late on in the game can be very complex, but everything building up to them has been introducing the concepts and conventions that continue to apply to the bigger puzzles.

I think the other thing that makes the boss fights in Aquaria frustrating is the otherwise excellent cooking system. As you get hurt, you feel compelled to interrupt the action and search through your food inventory for healing stuff, and if you don't have enough you then start worrying about which recipes you should mix up. The fight takes three times as long as it would otherwise, and you come out of it thinking "I won, but is it really a vicory if I used up all my good food? What a waste. I should re-load and try again... but that will take forever and I still don't know how to actually avoid getting hit... maybe it will be easier to grind ingredients out for a half hour and mix up some more food."

I'm still a fan, but having beaten the golem boss, I really can't face going back to it, slogging my way back to home waters, grinding out a whole bunch more food, then searching for where I'm supposed to go next. I feel quite sad about that. The game is beautiful and I enjoyed the gameplay earlier on, but now I just don't feel motivated to play. :-/
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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crussh wrote:
Poo you know that theres a map right? It shows where you have been too. Laughing Its the little thing at the bottom right corner of the screen, just double click it.


What? Ah, that makes it easier. Embarassed

Weeble wrote:
I'm still a fan, but having beaten the golem boss, I really can't face going back to it, slogging my way back to home waters, grinding out a whole bunch more food, then searching for where I'm supposed to go next. I feel quite sad about that.


I wonder if this is one of those games where I'll play it with a walk-through guide open. I know that's a bit lame, but sometimes I enjoy just experiencing what a game has to offer without the excessive challenge.
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Crussh



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Sweden



PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Golem? And you can always die on the boss and restart once you know the trick to beating it, i did that and saved 5 healing poultries ^^
And theres ancient turtles conveniently located so that you dont have to slog back to home waters.
Also i wanna match my current progress with you guys.
Spoiler (highlight to read):
I have the energy, beast, sun and fish forms, 2 pets and Li
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In roughly the order that I got them, I have:
Spoiler (highlight to read):
energy form, the nautilus pet, nature form, fish form, some odd pet that shoots, beast form, spirit form, sun form, Li and the dumbo octopus pet. I also have the Krotite costume, a spiky costume, a seahorse costume, a crab armour costume, and a bikini.

I may have missed some critical turtles, but I've not found them to be particularly conveniently placed. The same with the one or two blue teleporting plants.
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Crussh



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Sweden



PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ive found about 10 of those blue plants but i dont know what they do >_<
Also theres ancient turtles at home waters, one 2 maps east of home waters and then theres one at the surface, thats the ones ive found.
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ach, I was drawn back to it in the end. Having finished it, I can say that whoever wrote the story is dangerously insane and should not be approached by members of the public. Great game with some issues. I would only really recommend it to fairly hard-core gamers. According to my save-game it took about 25 hours of play, although I don't know if it keeps counting when it's task-switched into the background.

I think the most important thing I'd have liked to be told before starting is not to bother going downward from open waters until you have completed Mithalas Cathedral at the very least. There's just nothing worth doing down there and hordes and hordes of nasty enemies. Other general advice is that it's not worth killing every enemy, since many of them take ages to kill, yield nothing, and are less dangerous just to avoid.

The bosses are hard, particularly since it can be hard to stay alive while experimenting to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. I found Mithala, Golem and "Octopus Prime" hardest. (It being those that I actually had to search for help on).

The sort of flying lobster thing that I think you find in Frozen Veil wasn't too hard once I had figured out what to do, but there's a large amount of guesswork, reasoning and trial-and-error to get to the point where you know what will work and how to do it. Without spoiling too much, I'd say that to hurt it you need to discover two important facts through experimentation, figure out what using both of these together allows you to do, and then pull off some daunting timing and maneuvering before you finally manage to hurt it. Only once you've achieved all this are you in a position to refine the procedure to something that seems easy. I should point out that this boss is optional, although how you're supposed to know that I'm not sure.

The final boss, which has several stages, is nasty, but not excessively so. I died once at the first stage because he grabbed me and slowly killed me while I couldn't escape. I suspect there's some way to escape from this, but despite having enough healing items to survive almost indefinitely in his grasp, and despite trying every song and form I could think of, I could not figure out how to escape. Next time I was just very careful to avoid getting grabbed in the first place.

It does seem that this is a game that plays very much more smoothly the more you've played, and I think that this can make experienced players, and perhaps even the developers, more blind to how it plays when you don't know what you're doing. The food system is great if you eat and create food occasionally and in small quantities. It shatters the experience if you're interrupting a fight every two seconds to shovel down more healing food, and it's a right pain to try to use the food interface when the ingredients and foods are scattered randomly across four pages of inventory which you can't re-arrange. The fights are probably not too bad when you know exactly what to do, but acquiring and refining that knowledge is hard and sometimes appears impossible. The exploration is good, but perhaps a little too aimless. I would like just a little bit of reassurance now and then to let me know that I'm progressing through the game, and not blundering into dangerous areas that I can't be expected to get through without better abilities that are found elsewhere.

It sounds like they intend to make a sequel, and of course I will buy it if it comes out.
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Crussh



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Sweden



PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yay for a sequal! Anyway have you seen the intro? Somebody kill me cause the game intro was the worst thing i have ever seen in my life.
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