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Underwater winners Aquaria: When we talked to Derek Yu and Alec Holowka, they were still feeling like zombies after winning the coveted Seamus McNally Award at the Independent Games Festival Awards last Wednesday during the Game Developers Conference Their game, Aquaria, received $20,000 and the label of Best Independent Game of the Year from their peers. Aquaria is an underwater fantasy action-adventure game. Players take the role of Nasha, who is trying to discover her identity as she explores her 2D underwater world.
Aquaria is proof that 2D graphics still have impact.
Nasha encounters numerous types of sea life, but also fantastical creatures inspired from the sea. As she travels through the corridors and caverns of her underwater world she can manipulate aspects of that world through song. She can do this through a circular tool feature (reminding one of the Neverwinter Nights’ UI toolset). Players click on Nasha, then click on musical notes in different order. This create songs which change Nasha and affect her environment. Each musical note is just a visual image; there is no text associated with the image, so there is no distraction from the rest of the game.
The 2D animation for Aquaria has a water paint artwork feel. Both Yu and Holowka feel that 2D is due a renaissance, and that developers shouldn’t be prejudiced against any particular look or technology. Aquaria will be released for Windows first, and then ported to the Mac soon after. Yu and Holowka are also looking forward to their next game, though they don’t plan to release a sequel to Aquaria. However, they do assure fans that their next game will "have a lot of heart."