Searching the Reef

Reef Shot
Reviewed On
Available For
Mac, PC

Hello Time Wasters!

First off, I want to say that I hate the ocean. Huge dark caverns, deep valleys that extend on forever, and sharks; I don’t see why anyone would want to swim around in a place that makes you feel so vulnerable. But thanks to John, my Time Waster this week had me swimming around in an underwater environment where I was stricken with paranoia on more than one occasion.

Reef Shot is a casual game where you play as amateur diver Scott who, along with his colleague, is hitting up different diving locations to look for fish, artifacts and other things of interest. These artifacts that you stumble upon connect with the legend of El Dorado. This legend says that there was a prophecy divined by the people of El Dorado that contained something about the future of the world. After the city’s riches, a conquest lead by the Spanish drove the people of El D. to leave their home and go elsewhere. The Spanish followed them and neither were seen again; the prophecy lost. But of course, that’s where our divers come in.

As diver Scott you are seeing the world through a camera, taking pictures of all things deemed important. If anyone has played or knows about Pokemon Snap, it’s almost just like that (except you’re not taking pictures of Pokemon). Unlike Pokemon Snap however, you are free to move around the environment, setting up your pictures and exploring. There are still quest markers to keep you on a path, but you at least have free movement and can pace yourself.

When taking these pictures, the better your shots are, the more stars you get for them. Keep in mind that most of the time you can’t complete your objective unless you take pictures with as many or more stars than are necessary, though some "quests" don’t require any. Your pictures are rated based on how clear and close your target is, and your camera has a motion detector that will tell you just how good your picture will turn out. Then, with the stars you earn, you can buy perks like air refills (because drowning might put a damper on your expedition), more film for your camera, a fish-finder, and extra missions.

This game sounds pretty simple and casual, right? Well, it is. That’s all there is to the game: swim around and take pictures. The swimming is a little frustrating in my opinion, as moving and turning are slow going due to being underwater. Sure there’s a swim-fast button, but it’s not too much faster, and it uses double the air. The environment is also a little bare, which it probably is in places in reality, but for a game there just wasn’t a quite enough to look at.

Reef Shot did a good job at least in replicating why I don’t like the ocean: making me swim down into a fogged and seemingly bottomless gully made me pause for a long time before finally working up the nerve enough to swim down there. It takes a special breed to be a diver, and it is not me. It takes a certain breed for this game too; some may like it, but it’s not for everyone.

Reef Shot snaps 2 GiN Gems out of 5 for being a bit too shallow.

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