YOU MUST BUILD A BOAT
Start Date: December 31, 2015
End Date: January 4, 2016
After the whirlwind of constant video games that was my 2015, I wanted to start the new year off with something simple and short, a game that didn’t demand my full attention. So on a whim, based on little more than some intriguing-looking screenshots, I downloaded You Must Build a Boat on Steam. And ironically, it ended up capturing my full and complete attention for four days, often at the expense of other shit I was supposed to be doing.
The game is a hybrid of a match-three puzzle game and an RPG. In that sense, it’s very similar to the Puzzle Quest series, except much more streamlined and frankly, more fun too. The game is apparently a sequel to something called 10000000, which I’ve never played or even heard of. Perhaps if I had, I would understand the finer plot points of You Must Build a Boat a little better. Like, for example, why I must build a boat!
But honestly, You Must Build a Boat isn’t about plot. It’s about building a motherfucking boat! You achieve this by racing through dungeons, defeating monsters and opening chests via classic Bejeweled-style match-three puzzling. There are a lot of intricacies involved in this process, but what it boils down to is matching weapons to defeat enemies, and matching keys to unlock chests, all in an effort to collect materials to improve your boat and eventually sail on to the next level.
This is more difficult than it sounds. The game is fast-paced as fuck, and requires really quick decision-making. For example, you might have a chain of keys lined up and ready to go for the next time you encounter a chest, but then you encounter a monster without having any weapons on the screen, so you have no choice but to eliminate those keys just to make room for more tiles to drop. Then you might defeat the monster, but come across a chest next and no longer have any keys, and then you’re fucking dead. It takes a while to acclimate to the game’s lightning-fast give-and-take flow, but once you get into that zone, it’s exhilarating.
This puzzling is the crux of the gameplay, but what really won me over were the scenes in between the puzzles, where you’re hanging out on your boat. In RPG terms, the boat serves as the game’s “town,” which you expand incrementally throughout your adventure. My boat started out like this…
…and ended up like this:
In addition to making your vessel bigger and more seaworthy, you also use the materials you gather (by achieving goals in the puzzle segments) to populate your crew. This crew includes a menagerie of captured monsters, who make your boat into an adorable 8-bit Noah’s Ark and can also be summoned in battle. It also includes shopkeepers, blacksmiths, trainers and other characters who can help you improve your stats and grow more powerful for future battles. Every time I finished a level (often after a zillion tries), I was stoked to see what new features had been added to my awesome, awesome boat.
After a few days of playing almost constantly, I beat the game.
Unfortunately, as you can see, I only attained 75% of the games Steam achievements, so maybe I will have to go back and rectify that. Or maybe I should try 10000000 instead?
In any case, You Must Build a Boat is a great game, and one I recommend to fans of puzzles and cute little boats. I plowed through the fucker in 5 days, but if you play slightly less obsessively than I did, this can certainly be stretched out into a much longer experience. The game is available in the iTunes app store and on Google Play, in addition to Steam. If I have one regret, it’s that I really wish I’d played this on my iPad instead of my laptop – a touch screen would have been much more conducive to the game’s quick-paced tile-shifting than a cursor. That’s the format I’d recommend for You Must Build a Boat, but my main point is that you should just play it any way you can.
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