PC

You Must Build a Boat Review

The sequel to EightyEight Games’ 10000000 offers a frantic, addictive, and maddening experience.

You Must Build a Boat for PC

I think all gamers, at some point in their gaming lives, encounter games that are incredibly frustrating and difficult but somehow addictive. You Must Build a Boat, the sequel to EightyEight Games’ 10000000, fits squarely into this category for me. The insanely frantic gameplay mixed with its great foundation and expansive content make it a great pick-up-and-play game. Unfortunately, the difficulty and “luck factor” seem to keep it from being everything that it could be.

This pathetic excuse for a raft isn't going anywhere. You're going to have to build a boat.

This pathetic excuse for a raft isn’t going anywhere. You’re going to have to build a boat.

You Must Build a Boat is a mix between an endless runner and a match-three game, requiring that you keep a steady stream of tile matches going in order to proceed and finish quests to reach the next stage. With each run, you can activate up to two quests at a time, though it’s not up to you to decide which ones you’ll get. As you move on, your boat and crew will grow in size, giving you things to spend your hard-earned gold on that make it easier to press farther, thus allowing you to tackle more quests. So the cycle goes as you and your ever-growing boat push on through the game’s regions, making your way further and further up the river towards the end goal.


Each type of tile you match has different effects on the game above.

Each type of tile you match has different effects on the game above.

I really can’t stress enough the breakneck pace that You Must Build a Boat requires. Since your runner is always moving forward, any moment not spent keeping the momentum up is a moment closer to the end of your run. Damage from enemies, time spent unlocking chests, and devious traps can all stop your movement, too, so it’s a requirement that you not only match appropriate to the situation, but that you never stop matching. Along with the tiles for dealing damage or opening chests, crate tiles can reveal useful items, shield tiles can offer some brief protection, while thought and muscle tiles build up resources that can be used to unlock upgrades to your boat, crew, or items.

Spending your hard-earned thought and muscle on new monsters to increase your skills is a great way to keep up with the latest challenge.

Spending your hard-earned thought and muscle on new monsters to increase your skills is a great way to keep up with the latest challenge.

What makes You Must Build a Boat frustrating isn’t so much about the pace as it is about the luck. Since every situation calls for different tile matching, the tiles you’re given have a huge impact on your ability to succeed and complete quests. This means that you may spend long stretches struggling with a single remaining quest, simply hoping that you’ll get the right set of tiles needed to proceed, and the blinding speed of the game can mean that you’ll fail to meet the requirements even when the right tiles show up, as they may come too late to matter. Even so, I found myself going back to try again and again, since the deceptive simplicity of play creates an engaging, addicting feel that you’re just about to have the breakthrough you’re looking for.

Special conditions, such as fog, can make knowing what's ahead of you more difficult, and being frozen is a near-certain death sentence.

Special conditions, such as fog, can make knowing what’s ahead of you more difficult, and being frozen is a near-certain death sentence.

Ultimately, You Must Build a Boat is a deceptively complex game that may not offer much replay value, but has that certain quality that’s able to captivate attention for some time. It may get repetitive, and there are definitely moments of frustration, but it’s innovative and enjoyable in small doses. With a low $4.99 price on Steam — reduced to $3.34 on sale as of this writing — it’s certainly worth the price. While it may not be perfect, and it may not be for everyone, the fact is that it’s not like anything else other than its own direct predecessor, 10000000.

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