The peaceful sound of running water, simple white marble architecture, a warm tropical jungle. These are the relaxing elements of Aquavias. Aquavias is a free-to-play mobile puzzle game where players rotate aqueducts in order to connect sources and destinations of water without creating spills.
Format: Android via Google Play
Pressure to Pay: Low, read below for details
In Aquavias, players have a grid of aqueduct pieces. They can be straight, elbow, or T-intersections. These pieces can be rotated to form connections and deliver water from a source to a destination. There are two main types of levels: those with a limited number of moves and those with a timer. In timer levels, it’s sometimes possible for the player to create a loop in which water is no longer spilling and the timer will stop, allowing them to solve other parts of the puzzle at their own pace. In puzzles with limited moves, the puzzle can usually be solved fairly easily in fewer moves than the limit. The undo button can be used in order to both reverse a move and get the move-count back.
One of the main features of Aquavias is its atmosphere. It has very pleasing visuals in the form of a very soft, warm color palette that is splashed with the refreshing blue of the waters. It features very relaxing sound effects of water flowing, eliciting a tropical feel. As the player completes levels they progress through 12 worlds each with 5 to 12 levels. At the end of each world, the water reaches a final monument, which usually has a brief animation of blooming or other plant growth.
I feel that Aquavias strength lies in its fairly simple puzzle design. There’s not a lot of logic to it. Puzzles generally don’t grow too much in size over the course of the game, although they do vary in the complexity of the shapes necessary to get the water from the source to the destination. That simple design coupled with the visuals and the sound effects leads to a very calm atmosphere.
I feel that the calm atmosphere only works well for about half the game, specifically the levels with the limited of moves. These do not rush the player, encourage a relaxed approach, and thus works well with those elements. However, the levels that are timed detract from that calm environment. I tend to feel anxious when I see those levels coming up, even though usually a times level in other games would not be a concern. There’s something about being in a very relaxed environment and then suddenly being presented with a timed element that disrupts that environment more than it otherwise would.
The other problem I had with the levels going through the different worlds was gameplay got somewhat repetitive. The mechanics of the levels didn’t change very much and the difficulty didn’t particularly increase. While it was nice to see the visuals of each new level and world, the gameplay didn’t dramatically evolve in a meaningful way. This makes the game somewhat more suited for playing during short downtimes across a long span, as opposed to playing a large group of levels in succession.
Aquavias is a free-to-play game that allows players to pay what they want to support the game and remove ads, anywhere from $0.99 to $4.49. Ads tend to play between levels, though not every level, and may be either a top banner or full screen. I find this to be a very agreeable choice for the player instead of pushing them to pay for premium content. Although it might be nice to see some paid level expansions of increased difficulty so that the developers can both continue to expand the gameplay as well as support the development of similar work in the future. They clearly have hit on a lot of atmospheric elements here that combined really well and I’d like to see that continue.
Overall, I enjoyed the calm atmosphere of Aquavias. It has very pleasing visuals and relaxing music. Levels are fairly simple, which augment the calm atmosphere, but if played too much in succession can become repetitive. I also felt that the timed levels attracted from that calm atmosphere as well. I recommend Aquavias to players looking for a simple relaxing puzzle game to play on the go, especially if they’re interested in a short relaxing experience between obligations.
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