In the short history of create-your-own-world match-3 games, Lost in Reefs follows the same gameplay mechanics where you gather enough supplies during the actual puzzle games in order to purchase buildings reconstructing a once-famous dragon city. The question is: what does this game offer more for seasoned players of the genre?
The story of Lost in Reefs revolves around an ancient city hidden beneath the sea where it was fabled to hold residence to a mutual bond between humans and dragons. As the game implies, you are the only one in the world who knows that this ancient civilization exists. Therefore, it is up to you to confirm the theories and unearth the ruins that were sunk deep onto the ocean floor. Your exploration will soon reward you with The Heart of the City, but you can only rebuild the town piece by piece – a total of 20 structures you have to purchase using supplies you collect throughout your journey.
Playing the game reminds me of another match-3 installment called Cradle of Rome. The mechanics are just the same for this game as you try to collect necessary numbers of gold, fish and tools in order to purchase structures that will rebuild The Heart of the City. These supplies are collected during the actual puzzle matching games, represented by a variety of tiles depending on the quantity of supplies each tile will provide when matched. Collect all the requirements of a particular structure and you’ll be one step closer into completing the game.
Lost in Reefs counters the misconception of being “just another match-3 game” by adding numerous features to enhance its overall gameplay. You can select from 3 different game types: from the traditional tile-swap, to dragging chains, to clicking groups of tiles in order to remove them from the board. Also, you can even choose between board types consisting of square tiles, hexagon tiles, or if you’re undecided, a random mix of the two. And if that’s not enough, how about a choice between relaxed or timed mode if you fancy some challenge injected to your game.
All in all, these features add an enhanced user experience that depends greatly on how the player wants to play his game. What’s good about this too is that you are not locked on a particular feature after you choose each mode. This means that in case you change your mind or lost interest in making tile swaps, you can then flip a single switch in the main menu, and you’re all set in playing a group or chain match, whichever makes the game more fun for you. This excludes timed and relaxed modes though, so you’ll have to consider just that before starting a new profile.
You’ll also have your fill of explosive special effects during the course of playing through the puzzle games. Aside from the usual power-ups (which really run a-plenty for this game), you’re also able to create Magic Match tile patterns that can reward you additional resources, scores or bonuses to aid you in the puzzles. These Magic Match patterns however, are only enumerated on the help menu and are pretty hard to make during the actual game. Furthermore, power-ups are also randomly awarded after filling up the Dragon’s Eye, sometimes giving you a useless tile randomizer when all you needed is a simple hammer to finish the level.
Lost in Reefs is also amazing in terms of overall presentation of graphics and sounds. The music blends well to the overall gameplay experience and the game design is simply stunning to look at. The game exploits this even further by letting you enjoy the underwater sceneries by simply double-clicking the background anytime during play, and if you choose to, take a look at your collected underwater structures for some relaxation time-off from the very long array of match-3 levels set to give your game time a run for its money.
All in all, Lost in Reefs is a beautiful piece of work which is more fun to play than your regular build-a-city match-3 installment. However, don’t expect any development on the story during the whole course of your adventure, probably making the game quite stale if you’re just keeping on with all the levels without any storyline to back up all your efforts.