You Must Build a Boat iOS Game Review:
When the game begins, you are a non-descript explorer wearing a familiar-looking fedora. Your companions are a monster movie pairing of a zombie and a mummy. The three of you sit in a small boat that is barely fighting against a river current.
Your goal is to make your way upstream to the game’s mysterious finish line. As the game progresses, the river current gets faster. More crew must be taken on in order to maintain steady advancement. As your boat grows, so too will the necessary resource requirements. Proper planning and careful upgrading will allow the game to proceed without feeling like too much of a grind (more on this later).
Once your explorer is directed to scrounge around for building materials, the real meat of the game is revealed: tile matching. While the game follows a Match-3 format for its main gameplay, I should elaborate that the matching system is less like Bejeweled or Candy Crush Saga and closer to PopCap’s Chuzzle. In this game, rows and columns of tiles slide in whole lines in any of the four compass directions.
During a run, a small window is visible at the top that gives an indicator of the next obstacle to overcome. If the obstacle is a monster, matches and combos of swords, staves, and shields will win the day. If a chest or a trap is coming down the tunnel, though, start looking for some keys or other disarming items. I really enjoyed the “Hammerhorn” power up that is acquired early on. It acts as a second chance by calling in your entire crew to dogpile onto a group of monsters that are attacking you.
Each run is essentially endless with the danger level (and subsequent rewards) increasing every minute or so. Especially strong obstacles will require some sizeable combos and heavy scores to defeat. If too much time or damage is taken during a run, the game will count up a high score and offer a retry or a quick trip back to home base.
I should call out the game’s optimistic view of a “Game Over”. When a run ends in this game, the words “You Win!” are displayed with some upbeat victory music. Even during some of the especially difficult quests, this lighter take on a fail screen ensures that the player never seems to take things too seriously.
This is a game that was developed by a team that knows their market. The majority of mobile phone games are designed to be played in short bursts. The game can be started from the phone’s home screen and get loaded to the next dungeon run in no time at all. A match-3 game is a very accessible style of game which allows nearly anyone to begin their own boat-building adventure.
This game has a very simple stylized 8-bit look that keeps game performance high and the action clear and legible. Each special power and upgrade has a distinctive sound and appearance which helps when the tiles are flying past in a rapid-fire combo. The game does not have a large selection of music available, but the music that is available serves to keep the player enthused. A couple of the tracks are only played in one or two areas of the game which seems odd as their inclusion into the normal rotation of “battle music” might have help alleviate a little of the repetition that can be felt after your tenth (or twentieth) run.
In conclusion, this is a game worth your time and money. The pacing and challenge are near-perfect with only a single quest at the very end of the game requiring more of a grind than I expected. The ability to play through the game multiple times to increase the difficulty is a nice inclusion. The matching mechanics line up with the onscreen action pretty well and the retro chiptune music and crisp sound effect round out the package.
For more information, visit http://eightyeightgames.com.