Developer: EightyEight Games
Release Date: June 4th, 2015
Available On: Mobile, PC
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on PC. There may be differences between versions.
10,000,000 was a surprise 3-matching game that proved to quickly work its way up my list of favorite indie games. Its follow-up, You Must Build a Boat, takes the working formula and tweaks it just enough to ensure that it will keep working while still providing a highly entertaining game and a more than worthy follow-up.
At the start of You Must Build a Boat I had little more than a raft with only three people on it: me, a zombie, and a skeleton. Talking to the two allowed me to take missions that then sent me dungeon running and onto the meat of the gameplay. Each dungeon just keeps going until my character is pushed off the screen, whether that be because he got stuck behind a chest that I couldn’t open or he gets smacked there by an enemy. Following that I would take all my loot back to the ship, make upgrades, and then do it again until I had enough to sail to the next stage.
To advance in these dungeons, and to fight enemies, I had to match tiles using the classic match-3 system. Three of anything in a row means that I activate whatever tile they are. Four in a row doubles their effect, and five triples it. The board is full of swords, wands, armor plates, and more, and I had to try and match the ones that would benefit me the most. New symbols have been added this time around: muscle and thought points (which replace wood and stone from 10,000,000) can be gathered to summon monsters that provide passive buffs, while crates can be broken to find items. When it came to fighting monsters I found that just gunning for every sword or wand match I could get worked better than items, which I often found to be underpowered and not good for much.
Yet it’s more than just walking forward, as each stage has a set of challenges that need to be completed. Sometimes it’s as simple as killing a specific monster or making a certain tile match enough times. Other times I had to collect items or make multi-matches. I couldn’t help shake the feeling that I beat a lot of these challenges by sheer dumb luck: there’s no chance I was setting up these multi-matches on purpose. Yet the challenges did help change the way I would approach each run, and all the different things I would keep an eye out for. I may not have originally paid that much attention to the shield tiles, but now when the game is asking me to I have to find the best way to balance matching as much as the shields as I can while still not accidentally destroying the matches I’ll need later. I couldn’t leave an area until every challenge is complete, which sometimes lead me to be smacking brick walls as I tried to figure out how to beat some task.
Yet I can’t deny how entertainingly addictive You Must Build a Boat’s gameplay loop is. Even as I felt like I couldn’t beat some monumental challenge I still found myself coming back for more. The game is meant to be played in small chunks, and turning it off when frustrated is recommended. Thankfully it’s very easy to pick back up right where I left off. After I finished the game (which took about 6 hours total) it also offered the ability to replay with all of what I had so far, so I could continue to capture more monsters, buy new abilities, and more. I can appreciate all the replayability that this game had to offer for sure.
You Must Build a Boat is a game that anyone who enjoys match-3 games should strongly consider, and anyone who’s just looking for a time killer should as well. It’s an excellent blend of match-3, RPG, and infinite runner elements and I’m really hoping EightyEight Games continues to improve upon this winning formula.