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[url=https://amigafuture.de/app.php/kb/viewarticle?a=372&sid=b17116f177b2dd175fecbeb4b16b6d9d]Artikeldatenbank - Review Aqua[/url]
AQUAFirst: There are two versions of the Myst-like adventure game Aqua. The original english version by Emerald Imaging, which has been released some months ago, and a brand-new german edition, which is more improved. The german version has been published by Funtime-World in cooperation with the Amiga Arena. If you speak or understand a bit german I recommend to buy this one - not only because it's german: Instead of the normal jewel case of the orginal version, this one is shipped in a good looking DVD-case, which is more usual in these days of computer-games. The cover looks different than the english one and is better designed in my opinion. The german version also comes with demo-versions of the puzzle-game PuzzleBOBs (of which we also had a review) but there are also demos of the video-player Softcinema and Frogger included. Furthermore there's a HTML-documentation next to the Amiga-Guide and some bugfixes have been done. But before you decide to buy it, you should know the system requirements.
Aqua isn't a demanding game. All you need is an Amiga with at least a 68020 CPU, OS.3.x, 8 MB of Fastmem, AGA or a gfx-card (Picasso 96 or CGFX4). You should also have a CD-ROM of course, but is there really anyone without these days? Aqua also runs fine on WinUAE, so it should on Amithlon/AmigaOSXL, I guess. I only gave it a test-run using WinUAE and it worked ok, although the cut-scenes will be played too fast on a PC with lots of horsepower. Anyway, the game runs normally.
When looking at the root-directory of your Aqua-CD you will notice an icon, called "Screenmode". You should doubleclick this one first. You then select the screenmode for the gamescreen (640 x 480 is the best option here) and for the cut-scenes (I recommend 320 x 240). When done, you have to choose the correct version of Aqua for you, which is either Aqua using the AGA chipset or using RTG (gfx-card). Both options are also available in combination with AHI usage or without. The game can be run directly from the CD-ROM, although it's recommended to install the ca. 200 MB on your harddisk - it will improve speed and synchronization with sound.
My first impression when starting the game was that it looked a bit like a cheap version of Myst. Why do I say "cheap"? Well, because you shouldn't expect the gfx, sound and gameplay to be of the same great quality as in Myst. Of course they are not - there is no huge and good-paid team of professional artists, coders and musicans behind that game. So don't expect too much. On the other hand, Aqua isn't really expensive (17,- EUR) and for being an Amiga-only production it's impressing that at least it looks similiar to a high-quality game like Myst. It also feels like it sometimes. So does it look good? Well, there is rendered gfx in the game but unfortunately it looks quite outdated. It's irritating that there are some areas in the game, that look really great and reminded me much of Myst and then there are others, which just make you yawn as they all have the same textures and are very similiar looking. The cut-scenes are ok, but not breathtaking. Anyway, this isn't the most important part and they work by preparing you for what's up next. The sound-effects are really good and add to the atmosphere, so does the trancy music.
The story of Aqua is a bit weird: A mysterious oil rig sinks in the stormy Atlantic, noone quite knows why it happened. Your aim in the game is to explore the oil rig by controlling a submarine and maybe find some treasures there. Everything in the game is seen from a first-person perspective. Walking in the direction is simply done by moving the mouse to the left, right, top or bottom till a hand-pointer appears. A click will show you the view of that direction. For example: Clicking all the time while the hand points to the right will make you turn in circles, clicking on top of the screen will let you move forward, clicking back moves you back or sometimes out of a building. Of course there's an inventory and you will have to use this heavily. There are also 3 possible save-games. Not enough, in my opinion and you also easily start to mix them up once the positions have been overwritten many times as you can't assign a name to these.
In the beginning of the game you enter a submarine, which you have to control by communicating with whales. At first I found this to be a very strange puzzle, but once you understand the logic behind this, it's really simple: When arriving at the area of the whales (by entering the correct values of the book for V, H and D) you have to compare a tape of 3 different sounds to the sound of the whale. Choose the one, that matches and you will be taken further. I really liked that one - aural puzzles are rare. Later you will not only explore the world under water - you will also find lots of building on several islands and weird sceneries. The puzzles are not easy, but once you understand the logic it should not be too difficult if you are an experienced adventure-gamer. If not, you probably might end in checking the same places over and over for a clue. I once experienced a "Recoverable Alert", which did not crash the game, but it seems, the game isn't really rock-stable - so it's always a good idea to regulary save the game.
Of course Aqua has its flaws: You only get three save-slots, it isn't completely bug-free, the gfx is not varied enough and doesn't take advantage of your gfx-card (more than 256 colours and 640x480 resolution is not possible) - on the other hand it features an easy-to-use interface, some nice cut-scenes, interesting ideas and is quite involving - also don't forget, that the price is very reasonable. Aqua is a fine game for people who like puzzle-solving and exploring of strange worlds. You definitely need time for this adventure, but if you dive into the world of Aqua, I am sure, you will enjoy it.
game by: Emerald Imaging
German version available from: http://www.funtime-world.de
(thanx to them and Amiga Arena for sending us a test version of the game).
English version available from: http://www.ccnow.com
Further informations: Amiga Arena