I don't often find myself playing match three puzzle games. The mobile games that draw me tend to be a bit more obtuse. You Must Build a Boat is where those two roads meet. YMBAB is a quick puzzling fix that's designed to be played in short bursts with a wonderful lasagna of depth and systems working beneath it.
You Must Build a Boat is an endless runner, a puzzler, and an RPG all rolled into one. I was surprised when I discovered how well that recipe works. Atop the puzzle screen your boat building hero of sorts is confronted with several obstacles while dashing bravely across the never ending path. The only way to surpass these obstacles is to match three or more of the corresponding items (i.e. three keys to open a chest) before time runs out and you are pushed off the screen. It’s two-pronged approach is fun, and keeps your eyes busy while you search frantically for the best solution. This becomes more and more challenging as you progress, as certain monsters have resistances to spells or attacks and your window of opportunity becomes slim. It’s a simple strategy, but one that works fluidly and keeps things interesting.
An underlying system of progression and resource harvesting are what keep you moving as you make your way throughout YMBAB's map. Each level offers multiple quests to complete which can range from effortless to relatively obscure. As you advance, your powers and spells get stronger, and so does your boat. Toward’s the end of your journey I did find it to be a slight grind to gather all the friends and upgrades necessary to overcome certain enemies, but I never got tired of playing. YMBAB does offer a more challenging new game plus for those who conquer the main path, which took me roughly 9 hours.
If You Must Build a Boat were a Camp Counselor it would be a Coolguy Jones on the Game Awry Review Scale. The folks at Eighty Eight Games have done a fine job of creating and refining a straightforward mobile mashup with a lighthearted sense of style. You Must Build a Boat is both accessible for casual players and deep enough for the hardcore gamer looking for a quick fix on the go. The endgame can be slightly tedious, but I was more than happy with the amount of play they manage to squeeze into it. Racing the clock in a big old boat never felt so good.