Fish Game: A Beautiful Simulator That Will Not Be Flushed
It’s 2017. I’m sitting alone in the bedroom of a small, rinky-dink share house above a laundromat in a city where I knew no one. Going through a tough time, feeling isolated, and wrestling with my mental health, my room was lit by the glow of one thing: a fish tank. Currently empty and ‘cycling’ to create the right chemical environment for a fish, it marked the beginning of something that helped me through a bad time by immersing myself in a tiny ecosystem. Four months later, I had three fish tanks, plenty of fish friends, and spent hours building intricate landscapes and excitedly buying new plants from my local fish store.
Although after six years a shift in my life has led me away from keeping fish, my love for them persists. I still enjoy the meditative qualities that accompany the building of aquariums, and it isn’t unusual to see me watching intricate aquascaping videos on YouTube.
So, when Fish Game made its appearance on my TikTok feed, I was drawn in. A semi-realistic freshwater fish-keeping sandbox, it places a strong emphasis on aquarium landscaping and freedom, all bathed in vibrant colours and accompanied by peaceful, upbeat music. Fish Game is the first title from A Shell in the Pit Games – who has previously worked on sound design for various popular titles such as Untitled Goose Game and Goodbye Volcano High – in collaboration with Creative Ink Games.
Despite the potential risk of branding myself as ‘Fish Girl,’ I’ve explored most other popularised aquarium simulators—from my early days with Fish Tycoon to more recent experiences with Aquarium Designer. However, none have quite satisfied my aquatic cravings like Fish Game. While it currently lacks a few planned features such as fish breeding and more intricate tank maintenance, it compensates with impressive offerings like plant growth, customisable tank sizes, fish eating each other, and even sculptable sand, among other features.
Gameplay is simple – you can visit ‘stores’ even without any money in this currency free world, stuff your pockets with all the plants, fish and decor you want and move them to your own tank. Once stocked, your responsibilities extend to caring for the fish—cleaning the tank, ensuring they’re well-fed, and addressing issues like stressed-out fish in need of more hiding spots or incompatible tank mates with a tendency to devour each other. As time progresses, you accumulate experience points that can be exchanged for perks and additional stores. These stores unlock access to a broader array of fish species and plants, or you can expand your collection by adding more tanks.
This gameplay loop seems simple but in reality it will be as complex as you want it to be – you can even turn off fish death, if you want, and place the game on your second monitor as a relaxing passive live wallpaper that reminds me of those early 2000’s screensavers where pixelated fish would swim back and forth your CRT monitor.
And look, you absolutely don’t need to know anything about fishkeeping to enjoy Fish Game. It caters to those who adore nature, sandboxes, and serene, soothing experiences. Who knows – maybe Fish Game will inspire you to take a second look at the fish tanks as you pass by them at a pet store, or to look closer at the small ecosystems in the world around us.
You can find Fish Game on Steam.