In the olden days of 2007, a PC indie game was released to critical acclaim and praise, winning several awards. That game is Aquaria from Bit Blot, and it's been ported to the iPad with the help of Semi Secret Software. The game enthralls you in an expansive underwater world, surrounds you with gorgeous art and music, and is generally a very strong game.
The game puts you in the flippers of Naija, a mermaid-like woman with an incomplete memory. You guide her on her journey to discover the history of her strange world and lost past. The story is told in bits and pieces through Naija's inner-voice as she narrates events, and it hooks you fairly early on. From the ambiguous intro cut scene, you really want to know what the heck is going on. Her voice acting is well done, too.
The game is an open world metroidvania style action adventure game, with a big emphasis on exploring the dark and wondrous caves of the sea. Gameplay consists of swimming around, avoiding or combating enemies and singing songs. The song mechanic is very reminiscent of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Each song grants you different abilities, from changing your form to moving objects or shielding you. Early on you gain the ability to move objects out of your way as well as the "energy" combat form, and this opens the game up in a big way, yet it's just the tip of the iceberg.
To add to all that, there are cooking mechanics for consumable items, pets to tame, and collectible treasures to find. This ocean is filled with aquatic life of all kinds. The game doesn't completely hold your hand, and It's up to you to learn which creatures are friend rather than foe. The redone touch controls aren't perfect, but they work very well.
The big selling points for this game are the visuals and atmosphere. The art is very well done, and it really brings the game to life. The music ranges from soothing and tranquil to ominous and intense, and all of it is fairly memorable. The game recommends the use of headphones for a better experience, and it does so for a reason.
The world Naija inhabits and explores is unlike any other. There are in game achievements to go for, and the game can be yours for five dollars. If you have an iPad, the price is well worth it. This game has hours and hours of content, and it's as refreshing as an ocean swim. People are reporting crashes on the first generation iPad, though it worked perfectly for me. Take a dive into Aquaria and submerge into the depths of this artistic and original game.