Whenever I play a game, I usually get a good idea of my opinions early on, and I’m always sure of how I’m going to score it. This is because each game I review, is pretty clear cut as to whether or not it’s good or bad. However, Akuatica: Turtle Racing is an oddity for me. I played for 3 hours before I gave up wondering if I liked it or not. This isn’t to say I thought it was bad, it’s actually a good little game once you get stuck into it.
Once you load up Akuatica, the first thing you’ll notice is the almost colourless aesthetics. A less is more approach has been taken, much like Fragments of Him did, but with a crisper and cleaner look. It’s a refreshing change from the usual retro inspired look that many Indie games have taken in recent times, and it suits the game perfectly with a pale colour scheme. Although in later levels, there was a lush underwater section maze. The frame rate stays stable, and no tearing makes for a visually enjoyable adventure.
Given the name, I was genuinely expecting turtles being available to race. But no, you are a fish. One that has a health bar on its body, negating the need for a HUD which keeps the screen free of clutter. There are turtles though, so don’t fret too much. Our shell wearing aquatic friends do make an appearance.
The games story is ambiguous, and does just drop you in at the deep end with little explanation. Pun most definitely intended. But what struck me, was the game is incredibly relaxing. Not just the smooth graphics, but the audio does a fantastic job of making you feel at ease. It’s not just a case of continually swimming until you reach the end goal. Obstacles and enemies are spread throughout to provide a challenge. Some puzzle elements are thrown in for good measure, but there’s nothing that will leave you stuck.
Gameplay mechanics are flawless, and easy to use. Guiding a fish through water never felt so good. So move over Echo. You’re able to attack enemies with an electrical zap, which to be honest is strange, but who said that a game has to make sense? Fluid movement (yes, another pun and I’m sorry) and a relaxing pace makes Akuatica genuinely fun to play.
One point to mention is the low price. Which when you take into account the quality of Akuatica, is a deal maker. A perfect purchase if you’re after something totally unique and different from everything else available on the market, and even more so if funds are low.
Each section of the game is varied, with mazes, tunnels, open water and even land sections making for a diverse title with great level design. It’s a linear game, with no branching paths, or hidden sections to explore, unless I didn’t find them. But given its low price, and that it’s an Indie game, there can’t really be any complaints about that.
As for the achievement list, the descriptions are ambiguous and give little to no information indicating what criteria needs to be met to unlock them all, so I can say whether it’s going to be easy or hard to unlock them all. Although there are some story progression achievements. So you will get some by playing the game.
There is some multiplayer action available in split screen with a friend if that’s your thing, along with Turtle Mode, which sees waves of fish adorning the turtles back which you need to remove. Not entirely sure about this, as the game is vague about the end goal here.
Overall, Akuatica is a rather unique game with some fantastic selling points, and if you’ve got some change spare, you could do far worse. The final product is a strange concept, but with its relaxing gameplay thanks to the beautiful audio and smooth visuals. It’s a stand out game with its lack of colour, but sometimes less really is more, right?
Overall Score: 7/10
Developer: Tianyu Software
Publisher: Tianyu Software
Release Date: 17th November 2017
File Size: 733MB
Available on Xbox One & Steam
Xbox One copy supplied for review purposes