Building things can be a lot of fun, but you know what makes the task of building a lot more exciting? Puzzles! Action! Monsters! Go! This month’s indie pick from developer EightyEight Games blends all of this into a fast-paced, satisfying experience that’s hard to stop playing once you get going.
You Must Build A Boat is indeed about building a boat. You start off with a tiny boat and gradually work your way up to a much bigger boat as new rooms are added. But the way you go about doing all of this is what’s really magical about this wacky indie.
Rather that collecting wood, nails, and tools, you expand your boat by going out on mission runs to capture monsters and other experts who take up residence in your sailing vessel, expanding its size and capabilities in the process. These missions take the form of short, punchy, and absolutely frantic match-three puzzles.
In each run, your tiny pixelated captain must battle through a randomly generated gauntlet of monsters, treasure chests, and traps at the top of the screen. You control his actions by chaining swords and wands to attack, shields to boost his defense, keys to unlock chests, and other types of match-three blocks to collect resources. Finding the right puzzle pieces to match so you can overcome each obstacle as quickly as possible is critical, because the action screen slowly scrolls to the left, and the mission ends if your captain gets pushed out of view.
The action gets really crazy, especially when you’re racing to find just the right piece to match and complete the combo you need. Often times it’s hard to keep up, but that’s by design. You never actually lose these missions, since you get to keep any cool goodies you find along the way, and completing special objectives adds new monsters and other pals to your crew. However, you can’t progress to the next area until you complete enough missions to expand your ship properly.
Adding rooms and crew to your ship opens up shops where you can purchase upgrades that boost the effectiveness of your attacks, bolster your defense, upgrade your magic, and even hire monsters to help out. These upgrades, along with the cool way your ship changes visually, help to give a great sense of progression that makes the sometimes grindy RPG elements feel worth the fuss.
It’s the great balance between the fast-paced puzzling and slow-burning progression that makes You Must Build A Boat so much fun to play. You’ll find lots of silly personality and charm woven throughout the game, too, and it all comes together in a way that will make you say “Hmmm…maybe just one more mission” probably for a lot longer than you expect.