AQUA Reviewed

Name of Game : Aqua

Developers : Emerald Imaging

Author : Kelly Samel

Type of game : Adventure

Disk : CD (1)

Requirements : Amiga with AGA or RTG display OS3.x 68020 or higher 8 meg of Ram, CD-ROM and Harddrive

Playable from: CD or Harddrive


Introduction

Now just in case some of you have NOT seen or tried "MYST" perhaps a small explanation of the style of the game should help.

"MYST" and "AQUA" are not point and click adventures (Similar to the Monkey Island Style) The game is viewed through the players eyes (You do not control a small figure and direct them across the screen). In MYST or AQUA you click the mouse to go forward and the game moves on to a new scene ..It's almost like a series of screen shots with very little actual animations.

Installing AQUA

AQUA can be played directly from the CD ...A nice touch if you are still operating with a small harddrive. Installation to hardrive requires approximately 200 megs of free space. Needless to say the game runs a lot quicker if installed to HD. Emerald Imaging have released updated sounds for AQUA ...Again to use these updates you need to have AQUA Installed to your drive.

The Story Line

Somewhere in the Atlantic... A dark storm is raging. The sky is in turmoil the greyed clouds moving swiftly overhead. Waves sway wretchedly in agony as if to spew forth the sea's contents from the very bowels of the earth. A sole shape sits in this great whirlwind of waves. An off-shore oilrig that stands stubbornly against the deafening blow of the wind. Suddenly from high above comes a fist of lighting followed by a thundering so intense that everything around seems to pause for a moment, eyes wide, wondering. The billowing wind and boiling sea slowly recover from the attack and continue their own assault on the rig. What happens next is not quite clear, another flash, a sound, a haze, a whirling unseen force. The sky calms, the clouds slow, and the waves roll more softly. Where once a solid structure stood there is nothing. Only a barren sea and slumping sky is left. The wind cries.

The next day...

You have heard of the mysterious sinking of the oilrig and, always being the opportunist, decide that there could be valuable salvage left from the crash. Valuable salvage that could be worth a lot! You must find a way to explore the abandoned crash site. Scuba gear won't do; the wreckage would be too deep beneath the waves. There has to be a way! You finally rent a mini-sub from a poor researcher that needs the money to continue his work. Always the opportunist.

Soon afterwards...

You are now standing on the dock leading to the vessel, ready to begin your grand treasure hunt. Unbeknown to you a secret lies deep beneath the cold waves of the sea. A secret that will lead you on the journey of your life. A journey into a world unknown to mankind. A world filled with magic, beauty, wonder, enigma, and a destructive force that rules over all it's kingdoms. Hardship, intrigue and great rewards await the one brave enough to take the challenge. Are you up to it?

It is now time for you to write the remaining chapters of this story, chapters that will be shaped by the events that follow in your path. Go Forth!


The Review

System Used

A1200 (AGA) 060/66mhz with 32 meg Fast Ram

Tested from HD & CD-ROM

When you first run AQUA ..You are presented with an animation sequence showing the fate of the oilrig in the tempest. Shortly after this you find your self on a pier facing your rented submarine ...Time for the adventures to begin.

Manoeuvring your self around AQUA is simplicity its self ...Move your mouse to the left of the screen (A small hand appears pointing to the left) Click and you are presented with the view on your lefthand side.

Reviewing adventure type games is quite difficult, Trying to explain the things you might encounter or explaining events, Without trying to give the solutions to puzzles can become quite a nightmare. However in this review I will attempt to describe the first few screens.

Standing on the pier ...Click to go Forward (Mouse pointer to the top of the screen and left click). This brings you next to the silver submarine. Now click on the Sub to open it (You will see the cockpit) ..a simple click takes you into the chair of the Sub. In the Pilots chair you see a box to your left (Click on the box to open it) inside is .... Charts of the ocean and marked on this is recent sightings of Whales (The team you rented the Sub from studied these Whales). There is also a small voice recorder containing Whale Songs (3 of them) and a piece of paper explaining that each Whale Song represents the Whales giving each other directions.

The Submarine controls are basic and easy to pperate. Use the On Switch to start your Sub. You have then 3 buttons that you can set to the Various Co ordinates (V) Vertical (H) Horizontal (D) Depth.

Your Ocean Chart also has the V & H markings and the Depth is Colour Coded. This makes typing in your settings and manoeuvring your Submarine very easy. The only other control available is the Grappling hook. Which you will of course require to lift Items from the Ocean floor.

Now you are faced with your first problem ... Where to go? You can Do as I did and randomly roam about the Ocean bed until you get totally frustrated, going around and round in circles and getting nowhere!

Perhaps I will be accused of giving a little of the game away ...However ..I do consider myself to be somewhat of an adventure game freak ...And realise that very often players that get stuck in the very beginning of a game can get frustrated and give up.

MY problem was that :- I assumed that I was looking for the Sunken Oilrig ... This Oilrig was not on the charts in the SUB ..And I ended up going in circles.

OK! here's a secret...You don't look for the RIG ..Try to find the Whales ... The areas that whales have been sited in are on the charts .. But remember that Whales swim around ...So check the surrounding areas carefully.

Once you have found the Whales ...Listen very carefully to the Song they sing .... Match this up with one of the 3 songs in the Voice Recorder ....This will give you new settings for (V) (H) & (D).

Keep doing this until you see something ;) ...On the Ocean floor.

Try to recover this object and you are dragged into the World of AQUA.

Graphics

The in game graphics of AQUA are in general quite Impressive. It does bill itself against "MYST" ...And I am sure most know of the superb screenshots of that game. AQUA does not quite reach that high standards, However the graphics are quite outstanding in some areas and slightly less impressive in others.

I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed with the "Garish" graphic used as the backdrop for the Inventory Screen, It certainly did not match up with some of the superb outdoor screenshots. However this was a minor point.

Just on the subject of graphics ...While testing the game ..First by running it from the CD ... When entering one of the lifts and using the switch .. I actually thought I had crashed the game.

When you use the lift switch ...The lights go off and it seemed to take a good few seconds for the lift to move ..Thus giving the impression that the game had crashed ...This will not happen when running from the HD. A point worth remembering when you decide whether or not to install AQUA.

Sound Effects

Atmospheric and apt for this type of game. Again you must decide when you install AQUA ...Is the saving of hard disk space worth the trade off ..In sound quality. The sound effects when playing from the CD are reasonable but do take a second or two to catch up with the screens. This doesn't effect the playability or enjoyment in AQUA ...But if you want the game at its best ...Install the 200 meg to your HD.

Problem Solving

Are YOU an experienced Adventurer? ... Have you completed Monkey/Valhalla/MYST ...If so then AQUA will provide a challenge to keep you playing for quite some time.

As in all adventure games ...The puzzles solved suddenly become quite easy and obvious ... However if you find yourself stuck, you can be pulling your hair out by the handful.

AQUA is not an easy game ...Non experienced adventure game players will find this one very difficult indeed. Part of the problem is that no description of objects you find is available. WHAT IS that funny looking thing in your Inventory ...If you don't know what it is ...How do you know what to use it for?

This is definitely not a game that you combine a "Bent pin, Piece of String and a Stick" To produce a fishing rod.

Experienced adventurers will rise to the challenge, and get value for money from this game.

Conclusions

Certainly if you enjoy a good adventure game, If you enjoy pitting your wits against the computer and love solving the puzzles. Then for 16 AQUA is real value for money.

Emerald Imaging have produced an interesting game here, with a unique storyline. I certainly have enjoyed my time playing the game, even although I cursed them quite a bit in doing so :)

Scores

Graphics : 7/10

Sound : 8/10

Playability : 9/10

Overall : 8/10

Reviewed by Ian C Fyvie
Dual Editor The CRYPT