Aqua: Naval Warfare Review

By on July 2, 2011

A Steam punked Shoot ‘em up set in water.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Aqua: Naval Warfare is a PC indie game from new Slovakian game developer: Game Distillery. The game is twin stick shooter set in alternate steampunk universe. The game was released as “Aqua” on Xbox Live, while on PC the same game has much more generic name: “Naval Warfare”. Regardless of platform, its exactly the same game on both the systems.

As the name implies you will be spending all your time in water controlling a cruiser firing at waves after waves of enemies as they come to attack you. You play role of Captain Gray piloting a Cruiser in the Emperan Navy (British). The war with Gotheans (Russians) has recently ended and you decide to go on a small treasure hunt on your own. But on the trip you encounter a twisting tale of another incoming war, if you don’t do anything to stop it. The story is presented in pencil sketched pictures, which look stylish and very much like a motion comic. The voice acting although sometimes lacking but fulfills the purpose. The character voices really fit their roles and era they are trying to portray.

You control your boat using keyboard (or left thumbstick) while aim and shoot using mouse (or right thumbstick). This control scheme will be all too familiar to players of Geometry wars, which is always a nice thing if you can just get up and start playing a game. For firepower you have option of infinite ammo on primary guns, a finite supply of missiles and option to place primity mines. There are different types of primary guns which you can collect and use to suit the combat requirement on the fly; like Gatling gun, shotgun, flame thrower etc. The missiles are collected from debris of enemies, or from crates in water. Although controls feel very comfortable but sometimes the awkward physics ruin the fun. E.g. your boat moves slow while firing, so if you are going fast and at once you start firing, the boat comes to an abrupt stop for a moment and then starts moving slow, similarly abrupt changes of directions is sometimes faced with halt of boat. Although this maybe slightly true to physics, but it does ruin the smooth motion you would want in a “fun arcade” game.

The game graphics, water effects, Victorian building design and steam punk boats all look really good and should be main attraction of this game. The level design is good too, which was surprising for me as with a game which is based in oceans, you would expect too much of same thing. But using the alternate universe setting the developers have created detailed levels with lot of reefs, sluice gates, facility walls built in the waters to make you traverse about the level rather than just sail your boat in endless ocean. The level of difficulty is sometimes unfair by being too easy or too difficult without consistency. The variety of multiplayer maps is good too but all are small maps since game supports local co-op only so they had to fix the screen and thus map size.

There are three type of ships, light weight speedboat, medium spec cruiser and heavy weight gunship. But there are some AI controlled small support boats too which you can unlock on some of the missions. It would have been better though if purchasing them was player choice to take them with you on any mission you want, by using the gold you collect.

All things considered the game at heart is still a typical shoot ‘em up which puts you in the waves of ocean rather than in vacuum of space. Although it is a good game, yet nothing in it is memorable. Once you complete the singleplayer campaign, you wouldn’t want to revisit it again. Multiplayer mode desperately asks for online ability as well as bigger maps. So, it isn’t perfect game but still has good enough content to keep you busy and entertained long enough.

The Scorecard
Fun shooter, but sometime awkward jerks ruin the tempo.
Beautiful architecture and water effects.
Voice acting fits the role and every weapon sound very distinctive.
No replayability and no online play do limit the game.
Continuous waves and evolving story keep you engaged.
Fun shoot ‘em up but its potential is limited by generic flaws.


Dad in the day, Gamer by night. Loves everything Geek. By profession an Engineer but my hobby has been Video gaming on PC since 1989.

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