Indie Quickie: Reef Shot

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

ReefShot_1

What is it? A scuba diving photography adventure.

Who made it and where can you get it? Reef Shot is the product of Nano Games. It is available for Windows PC on Desura, FireFlower Games, Rain Digital, Get Games and Amazon.com for $9.99, and has also been submitted for approval on Steam Greenlight. Links to buy the game or try the demo can be found at www.reefshot.com/buy.

How much did we play? Successfully completed four dives. Snapped many lovely photos, some of which are now being used as aquarium wallpaper decoration on my PC desktop.

Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? During one mission, I encountered a strange bug that suddenly warped my diver out into the middle of the ocean map, far away from the objective. Once I made it back to the target, the teleportation glitch struck again, and I wound up having to restart because I ran out of oxygen and drown. Other than that, the game ran buttery smooth, even on my rather outdated, low-end system specs.

ReefShot_2

Why should you play it?

    • Say Cheese! : Shooting things is fun, but in the video game world shooting is all too often done with guns from a first- or third-person viewpoint. Photography games offer a way to shoot things and not kill them. Instead, you are capturing still images of beautiful, natural life. Photo snapping games don’t come along often enough, but a game like Reef Shot reinforces the need for the niche this genre fills (or maybe that’s just the avid National Geographic/Animal Planet viewer in me talking). Better yet, the game looks glorious, showcasing immersive caustic lighting and crisply detailed aquatic creatures (all real species, too!) that swim under the sea with a lifelike grace. So you aren’t just taking pictures, you’re taking pretty pictures!

    • Mayan Mystery: At first, Reef Shoot seems like it’s just going to be a game about snorkeling after the sea life off the coasts of Robinson Crusoe island, however it slowly reveals itself to be a full-on first-person adventure with underwater temples to explore, ancient civilizations to discover, and mysterious glyphs to photograph and interpret. Obviously you shouldn’t expect deep narrative substance, but the story still offers enough mystery and intrigue to keep you diving back for more.

    • Deep Sea Relaxation: Everything about Reef Shot is so soothing and serene. The pacing is just right–slow and peaceful but never monotonous—the controls effortlessly intuitive, and the gentle sounds of flowing water, air bubbles and the diver steadily taking in oxygen through his breathing apparatus work in concert to create an environment of interactive white noise. There are no enemies to battle or threats to worry about (at least none that I’ve encountered yet, other than the potential to run out of air); it’s just you, a camera, and an aquatic world to swim around in. Video games tend to get your adrenaline pumping or stimulate high brain activity; this game puts you in a state of calm, ease.

    • Perks? What is this, Call of Duty? : It needs to be pointed out that there is an actual purpose behind taking photos. As you’re swimming along, guided by objective markers, missions pop up requiring photos of specific marine animals or artifacts to be taken. You will earn a certain number of stars for each photo based on the focus and zoom of the shot, and with these stars you will be able to purchase perks to help on the adventure. Some, such as refilling air or photo capacity, are crucial to completing a dive, while others, such as hint markers or auto focus for the manual camera (which otherwise requires some mouse-click timing and coordination), are available to lend a hand if needed. Bonus missions can even be activated in certain areas, should you want to extend the underwater expedition beyond its necessary completion requirements. So yes, it pays to make each picture count.

Parting Thoughts: Part of me wishes the game offered some type of non-goal-oriented free dive mode or at the very least a journal that cataloged information about the real-life fish species as they are photographed. Hell, even a gallery for viewing saved pictures from within the game rather than having to dig into file folders would have been nice. But that’s just me being nitpicky. Reef Shot, from what I have played so far, is a relaxing, refreshing break away from the bang and boom that dominates modern gaming.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!