You Must Build A Boat is a perfect iOS game, it's build from the ground up to work on touch devices, it has no in-app purchases, no timers and no ads, it could be a bigger product on a portable console without much changes. The #1 block-sliding upgrade-buying boat-building game of 2015 was a blast and with only a few blemishes to an otherwise amazing title, I've only had fun with it and probably would've kept playing if the New Game+ carrot had been more enticing.

The game's name is actually a lie, since you begin with a boat and most of the game will be spent building a bigger one. To do so, you slide tiles around. That's the core mechanic of YMBAB, sliding tiles. You slide entire rows and columns horizontally and vertically in order to match three or more of various symbols. Swords will make you attack, shields will grant you a temporary defense, boxes contain items, etc. You need to do these things in order to kill enemies, open chests, defeat traps and progress through dungeons, accomplishing many quests along the way. When you're done with all the quests in a dungeon, you have found everything you need and you move on to the next one. Although it's the basic game progression, I'd wish you could've kept running old dungeons just to see how far you could get, even when you were done with their quests.

From completing dungeons and quests, you get gold, knowledge, power and metal, which are all used to upgrade things. Gold and metal is all you need to upgrade your sword, shield and staff tiles - to increase their damage, critical hit chance, shield defense, and much more - and you'll use knowledge and power to unlock allies for your boat, which also give you different stat boosts. You'll get even more from completing sets of them! Many other things can be upgraded, from spell scrolls to various artifacts with powerful abilities. Many of these things are unlocked by completing certain quests, which add people to your boat, opening shop there to unlock new mechanics for you, like adding modifiers to your next few runs - such as making them harder but more rewarding - or having you 'invest' some money.

These systems are fun and spice up an already impressive list of quests to complete. There are a few NPCs I can't exactly say I'm fond of, like the lady with the plants and the guy that unlocks new game+, because it's not obvious what they do, or if it'll ever do anything. Even if the game is a solid hit for me, it has taken a while to complete it and the idea of restarting from the beginning in my small boat and trying again is almost too much for too little enticement. Is the plant lady going to do something in new game+? Will anything be different except the difficulty if I restart? Are there certain mechanics that will be unlocked in subsequent playthroughs? If the game had been more upfront about it, I might have jumped into NG+.

New game plus or not, YMBAB is an amazing game. It has everything you need to get hooked and play it over and over until your boat is completely built. Fans of puzzle rpgs really need to get their hand on this one!

AuthorJérémie Tessier