My first introduction to the city building/farming genre, which at that point couldn’t even be called a genre, was the enchanting ‘Harvest Moon’ title for N64. I’d spend hours building up my farm, tending to the animals and growing crops. Life was peaceful on my farm. Perhaps a little too peaceful. And therein lies the problem with the farming genre. Nothing much happens. Sure, if you like to take it easy and use the games as a form of meditation, good for you, carry on. But for those of us who enjoy the genre to an extent, but want something a little more engaging, we need look no further than Candy Grill’s new city-builder-cum-action-adventurer, Aquapolis, free and out now for iOS and Android.
Aquapolis makes its intentions clear from the start with a cutscene straight out of the James Cameron playbook. The Professor, the Captain and Lana are astronauts returning to Earth after a voyage to Neptune. Unfortunately for them, the whole place is covered in water and inhabited by an extraterrestrial blue race who live underwater. They’re not entirely hostile though, and as our trio learn to live with the invaders, they’re able to work together build cities and farm crops.
So the game is somewhat a mixture of a city-builder with slivers of action-adventurer. It already scores bonus points for taking the time to craft a basic premise and give us a narrative we can get to grips with. But how does it actually play? Well, first off, this game is huge. So huge that it’s actually remarkable that it’s free. There’s so many different features that it takes a good half hour to get to grips with it all. Those who put the time in at the beginning will find themselves aptly rewarded by the game’s depth. You start off with a small section of underwater real estate, but as you learn how to build bigger buildings, you can expand your empire across the seabed.
Then there’s all the technology you can utilise as you expand; everything from meat production to fuel production is catered for, though you’ll have to hit certain levels in order to learn the respective skill. You’ll have an inventory full of items to choose from as well, so remember to keep track of your city, as it will need repairing from time to time! Slotted into all this management fun is the action adventure part of the game; your trio of characters will uncover a series of mysteries as the game progresses leading them to the reason the world was suddenly flooded with sea water… All this makes the game a lot of fun to play, and more importantly, a lot of fun to continue playing.
Aquapolis is a cut above the usual farming/city builder fair. The underwater setting gives it a unique angle on the genre, and the amount of time and effort the developers have invested in their creation really pays off. Check this one out.