You Must Build A Boat is roughly the videogame equivalent of patting your tummy and rubbing your head.
It’s an endless runner and match-three game that plays out simultaneously, and then deviously lobs into the mix various chunks hacked off of RPGs. By the time you’re halfway through, your brain will be breaking, due to the frenetic pace of it all, as you attempt to find weapons to kill psychotic foes while the clock relentlessly counts down.
Initially, things are a touch more sedate. You start out on a little canoe, and some cohorts give your captain an overview of how the game works. At the top of the screen is the endless running bit — a thin strip in which the captain sprints. Periodically, he’ll come across an obstacle that needs to be passed, which might be a locked chest potentially full of treasure or a monster in need of being slain before it tears his face off.
Punishment and mockery
In most endless runners, you’d swipe to duck, tap to leap, and swipe in some other direction to unleash stabby death. But in You Must Build A Boat, actions are determined by matching tiles on the board beneath the aforementioned strip. It’s a bit like Bejeweled, except the gems are swords, shields and keys, entire rows and columns move as one, and failure results in your bloke getting rudely shoved off of the left-hand side of the screen.
Amusingly, such a defeat is followed by a screen cheerily announcing YOU WIN in huge letters. This game, clearly, is more than happy to smash your brains out, while also serving up a line in friendly mocking humour. That said, the statement isn’t entirely inaccurate, because matches and open chests help you gradually amass crew, ship components and currency, which can be used to buy upgrades. You can then plunge back into the dungeons with sharper swords, stronger shields, and power-ups such as fireballs to fry anyone who happens to get in your way.
There are no in-app purchases — this is a pay-once-and-play game. And while it can be a bit repetitive, it’s rarely a grind. Aside from the odd difficulty spike, you always feel you’re moving onwards with each run, especially once you grasp the depth lurking in the game, mastering dungeons that subtly adjust the effectiveness of tiles and weapons as you sprint to temporary glory.
There is an ending, but you’ll be smacked back dozens of times before you get there. Lesser gamers would walk away, but you just can’t, because this title is far too much fun; and, besides, you must build a boat.
Another must-download › Lifeline… Review
A truly superb mash-up of match-three and endless runner that’s unique on mobile and thoroughly addictive. Buy it
Superb mix of game styles
You always feel like you’re progressing
Great sense of humour
Immediacy, despite underlying complexity
A few nasty difficulty spikes