Game Info:

You Must Build A Boat
Developed by: EightyEight Games, Ltd.
Published by: EightyEight Games, Ltd.
Released: June 4, 2015
Available on: Windows, macOS, SteamOS/Linux, Android, iOS
Genre: Puzzle
Number of players: 1
Price: $4.99 (Steam), $2.99 (iOS, Android)

It would be tempting to begin every sentence of this review with "you." But EightyEight Games, Ltd., already did that in their promotional material. However, I'm sure you would like to learn more about this game – otherwise, why did you seek this review out?

There's all sorts of treasure out there along the river! But in order to travel the river, you must build a boat. Your character, which looks a little bit like Indiana Jones, begins in a desert area and travels through pyramids in order to collect enough treasure to change his humble raft into a decent boat. Once the boat is large enough, you sail on to the next area and repeat the process until you have a boat worthy of respect!

Exploring the areas, collecting treasures and battling creatures are the substance of the game. This is done through a match-three style game. In the large grid that dominates the majority of the screen are a variety of squares, each with an icon. By sliding the columns or rows, you can line up three, four or five of a kind. If you match swords or staves, you can damage a monster. Lining up shields provides a defense against damage for a brief time. Matching up keys allows you to unlock chests. Matching crates can occasionally grant you items that can be used against enemies. Finally, matching power and mind squares earns you power and mind points respectively, which can be used to purchase monstrous crew members for your boat.

With each run, you must choose at least one quest to accomplish. These can range from defeating a certain creature, making a certain number of matches, enduring for a set length of time, or other types of quests you might expect from an RPG-lite game. Each quest earns you a prize of some sort – often a new crew member or creature that you can recruit. Once you complete all the quests in an area, you sail on to the next. 

You Must Build A Boat

Strong Points: Interesting approach to the "match three" puzzle genre; great soundtrack; addictive replay value
Weak Points: Sometimes frustrating quests; retro graphics are sometimes unclear
Moral Warnings: Undead and demonic references; one level takes place in Hell; magic use; main character kills creatures

There is no way to die or lose in the game. Your character moves to the right through the areas you're exploring. Running into a chest or a creature will halt the forward progress and that portion slides to the left. Taking damage from creatures or traps moves it faster to the left. If your character is forced off the screen, then the run is over. If you've completed at least one quest, you collect the rewards and return to your boat. If you don't complete any quests, you can try again, or return to the boat empty-handed. 

At the boat, you can consult with your crew members to increase the strength of your attacks or defenses, recruit some of the monsters you've captured, or sell some of the items you've discovered. Recruiting monsters can add to your overall statistics, and make it a bit easier to explore for treasure in the area you're in. While these do add a few role-playing game elements to the match-three game, you don't have a lot of control over your stats. As long as they go up, you'll do better. 

The controls are nice and responsive, and only require the mouse. While I haven't played this on a touch screen, I would imagine that those with mobile devices would have an even easier time with the game mechanics. This game is apparently a sequel to 10000000, which has been reviewed on this site here. Since that review focuses on the Android version, the controls for the portable version of You Must Build A Boat will be very similar to the one in that review.

You Must Build A Boat
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 79%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 7.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The graphics and music are distinctly 8-bit retro in style. In fact, my wife even commented that it sounded like early Mario games. Although the creatures lack detail, it's easy enough to tell what's happening on the screen, and the sounds clue you in as to what's happening as well. The lack of detail of the creatures actually works out to be a good thing – your first companions appear to be a zombie and a skeleton, and there are many undead you'll encounter, as well as have the opportunity to recruit to your team. The music is very catchy and changes with each area, so there's a decent amount of variety to the tunes as well.

In addition to the presence of undead, there is violence as well. However, there isn't any blood, and defeated creatures simply collapse into a vague pile of pixels. The main character can use magic spells and attacks on the foes. Late in the game, the player adds a priest or cleric to the ship's crew, and can offer sacrifices of gold, strength or mind points to "gods." In addition, one of the levels takes place in Hell, complete with demons and rivers of fire, but there wasn't any Satanic imagery that I found.  I didn't come across any other language issues to be worried about, either.

All in all, You Must Build A Boat is an entertaining title and a fun time waster. Although it can get frustrating to complete the more difficult quests, they aren't impossible, and it's quite satisfying to move on to the next area. The game also includes several achievements to obtain, including a couple secret ones, so the replay value is high. If you enjoy puzzle games and a retro feel, then it's time for you to follow the advice of the game's title: You Must Build A Boat.


About the Author

J. Todd Cumming

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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