A Paladin’s Steam Review: You Must Build A Boat. I Must Be Crazy For Liking It.

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Taking a look at building a boat in this combo of genres mobile game. What? Don’t give me that look. It’s on PC too.

As I’m currently restricted to playing rogue-likes, among a few other genres, I thought it’d be a good start to take a look at You Must Build A Boat. There’s been some demand that I cover this rogue-lite genre on a more regular basis. But, I’ve never really figured out if I actually like it or think I like it as a concept. I know, that’s strange. But I think Darkest Dungeon has answered that question so I’m going to be diving more deeply into the genre and really play some of these. For now, You Must Build A Boat is the first review out of this genre for me. Unless I forgot a previous game, which is entirely possible. Enjoy!

A Paladin’s Steam Review: You Must Build A Boat. I Must Be Crazy For Liking It.

  • Genre: Combination of RPG, Rogue-lite and Match-Three Elements.
  • Developed & Published by: EightyEight Games
  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.
  • Business Model: Single Purchase.
  • Copy Purchased by Myself, Playtime Was Mostly On Android

Preamble
I used to like mobile-centric games, back in 2013. It was a new frontier of gaming and a lot of new ideas were being used to figure out what could be done. However, I eventually became fatigued of the current running trend which is freemium everything. Freemium mechanics and business model, an extremely toxic and unenjoyable combination of ideas. It completely turned me off from trying new games for a while. It didn’t help that I felt like there weren’t any games being made for a core gamer such as myself. Games where I can sit down for more than five minutes and actually get a deeper, more challenging experience as I went along. Most of the time, the game shows its hand and I’ll get bored of it pretty quickly. A friend eventually cajoled me out of my negative attitude towards it and sharing a bunch he recommended. So, I decided to give Android another go, to look in the inner depths of the platform and find games that PC-centric gamers like myself might find interesting. It’s true that You Must Build A Boat isn’t exactly a hidden gem. However, I think it’s a good starting point for me to start from. Let’s talk about building boats and killing monsters.

Overall Gameplay Thoughts
You Must Build A Boat is a combination of RPG, rogue-lite and match three mechanics. The player starts on a boat and is tasked with, well, building a much bigger boat. To accomplish this, he must run an endless procedurally generated dungeons, defeat monsters and acquire loot. Incrementally and eventually growing strong enough through capturing monsters, recruiting crewmates, finding relics and upgrading your capabilities to take on the challenges ahead. There are two phases to this game, running the dungeons and buying upgrades with the recently acquired loot. As this is a rogue-lite, the objective isn’t to “win” the dungeon, but get as far as you can and acquire as much material as possible. The RPG mechanics are in how you can upgrade your weapons, defense and spells that you can use in the dungeon. There’s a good tutorial that runs you through the various mechanics and currencies in the game.

The main portion of the game that the player will be playing in is the dungeon running. This side-scrolling endless dungeon has the player running to the right as long as they can. As soon as they get pushed off to the left, their run is done and they can either retry or return to the boat to acquire upgrades. This is the player’s health bar essentially. Each run will have an objective(s) that the player must strive to achieve. These objectives can unlock new shops on the ship, gold or power depending. As you progress through the dungeon, there are procedurally generated enemies, chests and traps that will try to hinder your movement. You must match the appropriate tiles in order to defeat these obstacles. For enemies, this is usually matching sword or magic staff tiles to do damage. For chests, it’s key tiles. Traps and certain chests will have an icon associated to them telling the player what they must match to defeat them. Enemies won’t simply stand around and let you kill them, they’ll throw their own attacks that will knock the player farther to the left. So, they must be killed quickly or you’ll find yourself ending the run early. There are ranged enemies as well.

You can match shield tiles to prevent “damage” but these must be refreshed pretty often to keep the shield up. There are three other tile sets as well: knowledge, strength and crates. Matching knowledge and strength tiles give you a currency for upgrades or recruiting “found” monsters which grant bonuses. Matching crates gives the player a chance to find items to sell or spells that can be used in the dungeon run at the player’s discretion. These spells vary from freezing spells to fireballs. While the player is running, they are constantly charging a horn spell that, when the horn is charged and the player is in danger, will clear the immediate screen of enemies. This can sometimes be a clutch play or completely wasted on a single enemy. It depends.

The general idea when you’re playing the match-three section is to have as many sword/staff/key matches available to deal with whatever obstacle you’ll run into. While the guy is running between obstacles, the player should clear the board of crate, strength and knowledge tiles as much as possible for their benefits and so they can have access to the sword/staff/key tiles. Matching four or five tiles in a row increases the potency of these tiles as well as tile multipliers that are unlocked later in the game. All the while, the player is up against a constantly changing timer due to the aforementioned “health” bar.

Upgrades can be purchased to improve the player’s sword, shield, staff, spells and even dungeon runs in general. There’s a choice of three different upgrades for most of these items but generally they are all stat upgrades with some having certain effects. All upgrades are worth getting, it’s just a matter of whether you can afford them.

Game Thoughts
You know, I rather enjoyed YMBAB. As far as mobile games go, it pushes the player to keep getting better at match-three. Since you’re up against a health bar timer where faster and better matches are constantly encouraged, it makes the player improve along with the character you’re playing as. Sometimes, runs can just be bad because you won’t get the natural matchups you need but more often than not, you can make it work. It’s about making the best of a difficult dungeon. Once I finished the campaign, I felt I had gotten enough of the experience but boy, it was a pretty darn good experience. While the upgrade/RPG mechanics aren’t exactly that deep, it at least gives you something else to think about and strive for in each run so that each subsequent run is that much better. It’s still a pretty simple experience when you get right down to it, but it’s got the right combination of mechanics, skill ceiling and ideas so that even someone like myself can enjoy it.

PC Settings and Audio/Video

Game Options: What the User Can Configure:
Resolution Options: Reasonable selection. A list of resolutions limited to your max resolution
Screen Mode: Windowed/Fullscreen Mode Borderless Windowed is part of windowed mode.
V-Sync, Shader Effects Included On/Off Toggle
Particle Count. User selected for low/med/high.
Audio Options. Music & Sound Adjustable sliders.

Options menu is decent enough for a 2D mobile game. It’s nice to see one at all considering how few mobile games even bother with one. There isn’t any Steam Cloud integration though. Otherwise, I had no performance problems or issues while running YMBAB. The pixely 2D style gives the game a certain charm and is well done. It keeps an overall consistent theme. The music is a pretty decent collection of chiptunes but can get repetitive after a while. Each dungeon run will play a different tune, there’s only a small collection of tracks for the game to choose from. Oh and yes I did play some of this game on PC just to make sure things worked as expected. I didn’t play the entire campaign out again but played enough. As I haven’t seen wide-spread reports of crashing/errors, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to play the whole game over again.

Final Thoughts
Honestly, I think You Must Build a Boat is a better experience on mobile devices. That’s not to say that the PC port is bad (it’s not). However, the mouse feels like a poor substitute for the touch-driven design. You could still play it with a mouse, but I think you’ll enjoy it more on your phone/tablet than on a PC. Still, this combination of fast-paced match-three mechanics and rogue-lite mechanics make for a fun time. And You Must Build A Boat is one that a decent amount of hidden depth for a mobile game. It keeps me interested despite its simplicity through its push to the player to keep getting better and faster at matching tiles together. So, give You Must Build A Boat a look.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share, comment or even look at other reviews I’ve done.

-KingIsaacLinksr

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