Running an underwater sea colony isn’t easy. Where do you begin? Where does the air come from? How do you prevent it from becoming a dystopian disaster and subsequently a setting for an underwater horror game? Devolver’s new underwater survival city-builder Aquatico answers those key questions for you, and our introduction here will make sure you’re not drowning in mismanagement and seawater when you get started.
In Aquatico, the sea is your canvas (and basically what’s left of the world following an asteroid collision). The biomes vary from bright vistas in blue waters, to darker and more mysterious terrain the deeper you go. Send out expeditions to discover what dwells in the oceans around you, but beware that not everything you find may be happy to see you.
You’ll have three different types of units to manage: Drones that search the depths of the sea for resources and build the infrastructure in your underwater colony, people roaming the oceans in robotic-walker suits, and regular civilians living in pressurised dome homes.
In Aquatico, food is separated into three tiers by how luxurious and uncommon it is. For example, a sea cucumber (vile, we know) is Tier 1, while cake is Tier 3 because, well, it’s cake.
Medicine is a must in this world of course, as are the plentiful materials you scavenge from the sea or build by hand in factories, such as plastic, iron, and sponge. Resources like these are vital to upgrading items through the game’s deep research tree, and will help your sub-aquatic society flourish.
Infrastructure is how you can generate resources such as electricity, crude oil, fuel and oxygen, to name but a few. When deciding where to place buildings such as factories, keep an eye on the efficiency rating—for example, you’ll want to place a sponge factory next to an area full of sponge rather than plopping it in the middle of nowhere.
Keep in mind too that although you may have many buildings, they may not be working economically. As your city grows, be sure to upgrade any buildings you are able to, but do not build too fast, otherwise your production lines may become strained, leading to problems down the road. Not only that, but you may attract hostile attention from the likes of sharks, dinosaur-like underwater creatures or even pirate groups in the latter stages of the game.
Luckily, there’ll be times when distant colonies may decide to aid you by sending people, drones, or resources, but be aware that eventually they may want things in return!
Domes are key to your survival and success in Aquatico. To begin with, you are limited to very basic housing, but as time goes on and your community grows, the size of the available domes expands, as does the variety of things and furnishings you can build inside the domes (one of the later dome sizes is absolutely huge!).
As you progress, you’ll need to think about how your community will function in the world you have created. Will you create an education centre for the next generation? Hotels for other colonies to visit and stay in? Diners to create more jobs and boost the economy? We’re only just scratching the surface of what you can do in your dome-society, and we’ll leave you to uncover the rest for yourself.
Enjoy your hard work
There’s nothing wrong with working hard to make sure your colony runs well, but remember to slow down, and take the time to appreciate your creation. Watching the world that you helped build go by is one of the great pleasures of Aquatico, so our bonus tip for you today: Take it slow, zoom in, and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Aquatico is out now on Steam, with more content coming post-launch. It has launched with a 10% discount lasting for one week, so if you’re interested, pick it up while the deal lasts! The game will also be available in a bundle with 2021’s mediaeval city builder Patron. Good luck rebuilding civilization, and don’t go all ‘Andrew Ryan’ on us…