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You Must Build a Boat review: This addictive match-three puzzler will ruin your sleep

Hayden Dingman | July 16, 2015
I have played a disgusting amount of You Must Build a Boat this week.

You Must Build a Boat

I have played a disgusting amount of You Must Build a Boat this week.

Somewhere around 4 A.M. on Thursday, I realized I was addicted. I was lying in bed, mindlessly swiping columns left and right, up and down, matching swords with swords and staffs with staffs and brains with brains while my tiny player character sprinted through a sewer. I had to be up for work in four hours. "Okay, time to go to bed," I thought, clicking the button to exit out--only to be met with a prompt asking if I wanted "One More Run?"

"Eh, why not?" I thought, and I started playing again.

Got the itch

If You Must Build a Boat looks familiar, it's probably because you've played or at least seen Luca Redwood's previous game 10,000,000. In fact, if you're looking for a shorter name you could always refer to You Must Build a Boat as 10,000,000 Redux.

The two are practically identical. Both games are essentially match-three puzzlers, so there's a grid of tiles (swords, staffs, keys, brains, biceps, crates) and you need to slide rows/columns around to make three of a kind. Both games are also endless runners--above the tile grid is a dungeon packed with enemies and treasure chests.

As your character encounters these various obstacles you'll need to match the corresponding tiles. Killing a monster, for instance, might require you to match two sets of swords to do enough damage--or four swords, for double the damage. Opening a chest requires two sets of keys.

The longer you run, the more treasure you earn. You can also earn special rewards by completing quests--say, "Match 360 Tiles" or "Kill an orc in one hit." Many of these quests unlock characters that will sell you upgrades (i.e. Add damage to your sword tile matches) enabling you to get further into the dungeon, and thus the feedback loop continues.

The main difference between 10,000,000 and You Must Build a Boat is, no surprise, the boat. You must build it. Why? Because the game says so. Starting out in a little dinghy, every crewmember you add on your journey up the river expands the boat a bit more until...well, you'll see.

And that journey upriver is also a change. Not necessarily a huge one, but one that keeps You Must Build a Boat a bit more fresh than its predecessor. Whereas 10,000,000 had a single dungeon, You Must Build a Boat has a dozen or so stages: The Sewers, Hell, The Gallery, The Vault, et cetera. Besides a visual shakeup, each has a unique wrinkle--for instance, all of The Vault's treasure chests require one more set of keys to unlock.


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