Our protagonist crash lands on a distant star, trapped on a sandy beach with nothing but determination and a trusty spherical lifeboat. As the calm waters lap against the shores, The Seeker takes a moment to center herself and steel her courage, embarking on her journey at dawn to recover the remains of the spacecraft to build a new future on.. Aquamarine.
While Moebial Studios self-identifies their upcoming title as a survival game, it initially struck me as more of a soft-spoken meditative 4X genre entry stripped of its exploitative qualities. It’s hard also not to see the DNA of strategy tactics titles like XCOM on display with the slow build-up of mechanical layers. Aquamarine is all about playing thoughtfully, taking in the sights and carefully rationing your supplies to ensure the mission is a success, It’s Jacques Cousteau-meets-Jean Giraud with a delightful splash of sailing drama.
I will refrain from going too far into the weeds in regards to the gameplay, but suffice it to say there is a very straightforward what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach to the UI that allows for a gentle mix of experimentation without overwhelming the audience with doo-dads and macguffins. Moebial has managed to assemble together the perfect mix of retro-future electro-mechanical signifiers that make the glass-bubble submersible you use for oceanic errands seem both second nature and delightfully authentic.
It would be downright criminal not to mention the game’s gorgeous presentation and looks, stepping right out of the pages of a Belgian or French sci-fantasy graphic novel. At a time when the works of Moebius are a frequently cited influence amongst game developers, Aquamarine brings it back to the pleasantly inked and painterly visuals that helped to define those imaginative works in the first place.
We await on the rocky coasts with anticipation for whatever Moebial Studios has in store for us in the full release.
Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for rebind.io and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice