A little less than two years ago I took a look at Megaquarium. Despite not really having an opinion on aquariums or fish in general, I was initially interested in the game as I have always been a pretty big fan of tycoon games ever since I was a kid. Even though I had high expectations I was still genuinely surprised by Megaquarium. I never knew I wanted an aquarium tycoon game and yet I really enjoyed it. The gameplay felt like a combination of your typical tycoon game with a sort of puzzle mechanic as you build individual tanks featuring different types of fish. After finishing all of the missions in the campaign I took a break from the game. With the introduction of the game’s first DLC Freshwater Frenzy I finally had a good reason to return to the game. Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy is exactly what you should expect out of DLC as it takes the already good gameplay and expands on it in new and original ways creating an even more engaging experience.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Twice Circled for the review copy of Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
For those familiar with the original Megaquarium you should already know what to expect from Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy. Like in the original game you are once again put in charge of a number of new aquariums. This involves building tanks featuring various types of fish. Each type of fish has their own requirements. When choosing which fish to place in each tank you have to analyze their needs so they don’t conflict with one another. In addition you hire staff to help feed fish, repair machines, clean, and perform other tasks around the aquarium. There are a number of objectives to complete while building your aquarium. Each visitor that visits and enjoys their stay will reward you with money, prestige, ecology, and science points which can be used to acquire new types of fish and pieces of equipment. The money you receive can also be used to expand your aquarium.
If this sounds familiar it should as Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy doesn’t drastically change the gameplay from the original game. As I already reviewed the original game I am not going to waste a bunch of time rehashing my sentiments again. For a more detailed look at the main mechanics I would highly recommend checking out my review of Megaquarium. For a brief recap I think the main gameplay in Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy is still great. It has been a while since I have played the game, but everything I liked about the original game came right back as soon as I started playing the DLC. The game still maintains that great mix of tycoon mechanics with the puzzle-like mechanics of building the tanks. If you enjoyed the original game you should feel right at home with the DLC. If you have never played the original Megaquarium and have any interest in an aquarium based tycoon game, I think you should pick it up as you should enjoy it.
Instead of wasting time going over what I said in my previous review, I instead wanted to focus on what the DLC brings to the table. So what is new in Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy?
The biggest addition in my opinion is alluded to in the DLC’s title. Basically the DLC adds freshwater fish and reptiles to the game. In total the DLC adds 30 different species of fish and reptiles. In a lot of ways these fish act the same as the saltwater fish from the main game. Each fish has their own requirements that need to be met in order for them to be happy and survive. Obviously freshwater and saltwater fish can’t be housed together so you will have to build new tanks for these new types of fish.
These fish feature many of the same requirements as the previous fish, but the game also introduces quite a few new requirements as well. These requirements range from some fish being nibblers that can’t be house with fish that are nibble-able, adding bogwood and other objects to tanks, having a variety of different objects in the tank, and even having a large enough open section in tanks. The biggest addition though is pH. Some fish require acidic water while others need neutral water and some fish can live in either. This requirement can be met with objects placed in the tanks or a new type of equipment. This mechanic is similar to maintaining the water quality or temperature of a tank.
Other than pH the biggest new fish requirement in the game comes from the second biggest addition in the DLC. While it doesn’t affect saltwater species, Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy adds the ability to breed your fish. This can be used just to acquire more fish of a certain type, but the game also allows you to selectively breed fish in order to create unique color and pattern combinations.
In a lot of ways breeding works similar to the typical requirement mechanics for fish. In order for fish to breed the fish’s basic requirements need to be met. To have the fish breed though additional requirements need to be met. This could include having more fish of the type in the tank, having certain objects in the tank, or meeting other requirements above those normally needed for the fish. When the fish breed you have baby fish that you need to protect until they grow to full size. These baby fish have their own requirements which if not met will lead to some or all of them dying limiting how many additional fish will be generated.
Heading into the game I was a little cautious of this mechanic because I thought it would be too complicated especially since I know very little about fish/aquariums. In action though it really isn’t. To have your fish breed you just need them to meet additional requirements which are pretty straightforward. You then just have to wait. When you have baby fish you may have to take additional steps since the other fish in the tank may become predators. Sometimes this might force you to use another tank where the baby fish can grow to their full size. While some players will appreciate this mechanic more than others, I thought it was a nice addition to the game especially since it makes the game feel like a more realistic aquarium simulator.
The final main addition in Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy involves two new types of equipment that you can use in your aquarium to make it more efficient. First the game introduces a number of different posters that you can place and attach to your tanks. These educational posters add to the amount of ecological and science points that you receive from visitors depending on various criteria. The more you place in your aquarium though the less effective they become so you need to limit these to your best tanks. While they don’t have a huge impact on the game I thought these posters were a nice addition allowing you to further customize your aquarium and give you new ways to acquire research points.
The other addition involves accessories and your staff. The game adds a couple different pieces of equipment that you can purchase and equip on your staff. Each employee can only equip one at a time though so you need to choose which fits their job duties the best. The first piece of equipment that you will get access to is the backpack. This basically allows workers to carry twice as much food making it quicker to feed fish that need the same type of food. Another piece of equipment is shoes which allows staff to perform their duties quicker. While not game changing I thought this was a good addition. It allows you to further specialize your employees and make them more productive. It may even make you rethink how you build your aquariums to take better advantage of them.
All of these additions can be used in the sandbox mode even though many of them don’t apply to the saltwater species from the main game. The DLC also includes a new set of campaign missions. The DLC adds five new campaign missions to the game. While I wish there would have been more campaign missions (who wouldn’t), I thought they were a good addition to the base game. These missions mostly rely on you having already completed the main campaign so you already know the basics of how to play the game. The first two missions act as more of a tutorial for the new mechanics as the first deals with the new freshwater mechanics while the second deals mostly with the breeding mechanics. After that the missions play more like traditional missions as they give you certain objectives and some obstacles that you have to overcome. While I wish the two tutorials could have been combined into one mission so there maybe could have been another normal mission, I have enjoyed the campaign missions so far even though I haven’t finished them all yet.
Basically Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy is exactly what you would expect it to be. It takes the original gameplay that I really enjoyed and expands on it. The biggest addition is freshwater fish which adds new types of fish to take care of as well as requirements that need to be met. There is also the ability to start breeding freshwater fish which includes creating unique colors and patterns. Otherwise the game adds information posters that aid in researching quicker and accessories for employees to make them more efficient. This is all topped off with five new campaign missions. Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy doesn’t revolutionize the original game, but it builds on it to make it a more complete game.
My recommendation for Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy is pretty simple. If you didn’t like the original game, I don’t see the DLC changing your mind. Those that have never played the original game, but think the premise sounds interesting though should probably check out the main game first to make sure they like the main gameplay. Those that enjoyed Megaquarium should feel right at home with Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy and should seriously consider picking it up.
Buy Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy online: Steam