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Reef Shot

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently did a review on “Depth Hunter”, which inspired me to look around and see what other “under the sea” games were out on the market.  This time, I’ll be putting away my spear gun in favor of a camera for the game, “Reef Shot.” Before I don my diving suit for the second time, I’d like to thank Agnieszka Litworowska from Nano Games for sending me a free review copy.

Reef Shot

Reef Shot (PC)

The main menu gives you the ability to play the game and adjust game options.  The options menu contains audio sliders and the ability to change your screen resolution, anti-aliasing, v-sync, gamma, and a few other settings.  I did not see a way to change or even view the control scheme from here, though you’ll be able to view them through a menu in-game.  There also appears to be only one profile, something that I’m disappointed to see.  While the game allows you to replay levels you’ve been to, I really would have liked to have been able to create a profile for the kids.

Reef Shot Options

Options Menu

“Reef Shot” is an underwater adventure game that tasks the player with taking pictures of various marine life and hidden wonders.  The story takes place in the Pacific Ocean, near the coast of Robinson Crusoe Island.  When you first start the game, you’ll be introduced to your camera and shown how to swim around the environment.  Holding left shift makes you swim faster and holding the space bar pushes you straight up.  The WASD keys are used for movement while the mouse is used to look around and control the camera.

Reef Shot Tutorial

The tutorial will help put you through your paces.

To assist you in your task are various tools, the most prominent being your camera.  You’ll have access to three different cameras as the game progresses, each of them with their own level of usefulness and difficulty.  The basic camera is what you’ll start out with and is good for beginners just learning how to snap a photo.  All you’ll have to do with this camera is point and click.  The autofocus camera is a bit more difficult to use as it takes time for the camera to adjust the lens, but it takes better photos than the basic camera does.  This is accomplished by clicking the mouse and keeping your target centered for a few seconds.  Finally, the manual camera is the hardest of the three, but provides the player with the best possible picture assuming you use it correctly.  You’ll have to hold the button down and wait for the moving arrow to be in the grey or white centered area before letting go, all the while keeping the target as centered as possible.

Reef Shot Manual Camera

The manual camera can be frustrating to use.

In addition to the different types of cameras, you’ll have access to a motion detector, flashlight, and oxygen meter.  Snapping good pictures of your target will earn you stars, and the motion detector will let you know how good of a picture you’ll snap when you center the camera on your target.  The better the picture, the more stars you receive.  You are limited to how many stars you receive by the type of camera you are using at the time.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to switch out cameras at will, at least, no way that I’ve been able to figure out.

Reef Shot Clownfish

Keeping the target in the center if the picture and adjusting the zoom properly will increase the bars on your motion detector.

Stars are used to purchase “perks”, which are necessary for a number of reasons.  Oxygen isn’t gained by swimming to the surface, in fact, the game prevents you from doing so.  The refill oxygen perk is thus obvious in its function, as is the more photos perk.  In case you can’t find your target, you’ll be able to spend stars to reveal a waypoint marker to the correct location of the target, even if it is moving.  The bonus mission perk unlocks new goals for you to complete, which act as side quests.  Completing them is optional, but since the cost of unlocking them in the first place is high, you may want to see them through.

Reef Shot Perks

Perks can be accessed via the right mouse click.

Contrast to “Depth Hunter”, there’s actually a fully functional storyline that will lead you from quest to quest.  There’s a reason why you might be looking for the artifacts you’ve been tasked to find, for example.  The in-game navigation was easy to use and for that, I’m thankful as my sense of direction is somewhat terrible.  This game is one big seek-and-find.  It will constantly be giving you a target to find and a minimum picture quality for you to capture.  You’ll be swimming from target to target, earning and spending stars, until you complete the level.  It’s important to mention that you’ll only earn stars for taking pictures of your current target…taking pictures of anything else seems to be a waste.  I would have been liked to have been able to take pictures of other things to earn the stars I need to continue my mission with a safety net.

Reef Shot Quests

Not all of your targets are fish.

“Reef Shot” claims that you’ll be able to take photos and save them to your hard drive, which should allow you to share photos with others or even set them as your desktop background.  Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have any in-game photo library and I was unable to find the pictures I took in my Desura and My Documents folders…and yes, I did turn on the “save pictures” option in the menu, making the camera’s save picture icon appear accordingly.  Along those lines, there’s a number of things I could suggest to improve upon the game.  Since you do have limited oxygen and you must spend stars to refill your tank, you are essentially timed from the time you begin the level until completion.  If you waste photos or spend too long finding a target, you’ll be forced to spend stars to replenish your supplies.  Become too inefficient, and you’ll run out of stars to fill your oxygen tank and thus lose the level.  I feel that this takes away from the whole point of the game, which is to enjoy both the scenery and the adventure that the game lays out for you.  I constantly felt rushed and had little time to appreciate my surroundings.  A free play mode would be welcome, as would a casual mode that can take you through the story without worrying about your oxygen levels and photo count.

Reef Shot Map

There are no checkpoints, so if you fail a mission, you’ll have to start over from the beginning of that level.

Overall, “Reef Shot” is a mixed bag.  There are no spears or guns involved, so kids of all ages can benefit from playing without worrying about harming any of the aquatic life.  While I somewhat enjoyed my experience, I feel that the game has the ability to be better than it is.  The inclusion of extra profiles, for example, or the ability to save midway through a mission, would go a long way to making the game a bit more user-friendly.  Having the free play and casual modes I mentioned above would be nice too.  The ability to switch out cameras would allow players to customize their diving experience.  An in-game photo library or a way to find the pictures you took would have been helpful.  Alas, none of those features are present here.  “Reef Shot” feels more like a timed on-rails shooter with seek-and-find mechanics than an underwater adventure, and it’s obvious to me that it needs more polish.  I appreciate what the game tries to do, despite how frustrating it can be at times.  I don’t mind seek-and-find mechanics, but I don’t enjoy being rushed in the process.  Lack of gameplay options and user-friendly mechanics means that the game won’t appeal to everyone.  My advice is to try the demo via the official site below before making the purchase.

Final Verdict: 5/10

You can learn more about and purchase this game by visiting the following websites:

http://www.reefshot.com/

http://www.desura.com/games/reef-shot

You can help bring the game to Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=107430293

You can check out video play sessions here:

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