Megaquarium is an aquarium sim and management game. It’s had several updates and improvements since its release in 2018, but Freshwater Frenzy is the first paid new content for the game. It adds several new features as well as five new scenario levels to play.
A whole new kettle
The new campaign eases you into the new freshwater species and their unique care requirements. There’s a whole host of new items that are freshwater-specific, from plants and rocks to acidity regulators. With 30 new freshwater species, there’s a lot to unlock. This includes several non-fish creatures like turtles, crocodiles and manatees.
Like in the base game, you’ll find yourself trying to build the perfect tank for your new freshwater friends, ensuring they have the right water quality, plants, caves, open space, and interesting objects to explore. As you might imagine, you can’t mix freshwater and saltwater creatures, but you will probably want to have tanks containing multiple species, just like in a real aquarium. And as in the base game, this is a careful balancing act of requirements and making sure none of your creatures are in danger of being eaten by their tankmates.
And then there were babies
If balancing all of that wasn’t tricky enough, Freshwater Frenzy adds breeding mechanics. These add even more requirements, such as the correct number of fish of the same species, as well as specific types of plants or rocks. Once all these requirements are met, there’s a chance each day that pairs will breed. After that, you’ll need to check on the eggs or offspring to ensure their unique needs are met so they can grow to adulthood. In some cases, you may even need a separate young tank to protect them from predators, which may even include their parents!
As you can imagine, it’s easy for things to get out of hand when breeding fish. Overcrowding in tanks can quickly cause fish – and consequently, aquarium guests – to become unhappy. Fortunately, you can sell off extra fish, or remove one of the breeding requirements of its parents to prevent population explosions.
This is a careful balancing act of requirements and making sure none of your creatures are in danger of being eaten by their tankmates.
Certain species of fish also have different colour and pattern variations that you can unlock through selective – or lucky – breeding, to make things even more interesting. Some of the scenarios require you to breed certain of these patterns or colours, which creates an additional level of challenge to the campaign levels, though the randomness of this system may mean you’re stuck waiting for that last colour or pattern to emerge.
The expansion also adds new accessories for staff to increase their efficiency at certain tasks, as well as new tanks like the beach tanks, which provide some dry land that certain creatures need. Combine that with the improvements that have been patched in, most notably the recent ledger feature, which gives an overview of the creatures in your aquarium, and there’s a lot to keep you busy here.
Since freshwater and saltwater habitats aren’t compatible at all, the game’s menus feature a simple toggle you can click to ensure you aren’t putting freshwater plants or fish into a saltwater environment and vice versa. This is a welcome feature as there’s a rather overwhelming number of animals and decorations you can unlock late in the game, and getting tank environments just right is hard enough without any extra confusion.
Maybe too mega
My only gripes are some that I had with the original game. Performance on huge aquariums takes a bit of a hit, but it’s not as bad as it used to be. Staff AI still gets overwhelmed by large aquariums, leading to animals starving even when you have the maximum number of highly trained staff members. Prestige generation is still a rather mysterious system, and it delayed my completion of several campaign levels for longer than I would have liked. However, I eventually discovered that a well laid out aquarium with a clear path for guests to take is certainly more effective in generating prestige than a haphazardly laid out one.
Freshwater Frenzy is very well priced for all the new content it provides. If you enjoyed the base game and wanted more of the same, this DLC provides that in spades. If you’re new to the game, you may wish to start with the base game and then expand once you’re done with the original campaign. Either way, if you enjoy management sims and like aquariums, Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy is a no-brainer.