15 Defense. Underwater Battle Desura Review

15 Defense. Underwater Battle may just be the one of the worst game names there has ever been. Its called 15, because this is a sliding tile puzzle game where you have a grid of four by four with sixteen squares and one of those squares is empty. Underwater Battle is a sliding tile puzzle game. You click on a tile next to the empty tile to slide that tile over. There’s a twist though, instead of a picture in the center, you have a squadron of four jellyfish, one shell and ten starfish.

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The starfish do nothing, they’re fodder to fill spaces, the jellyfish are your attackers that you’ll need to charged their electricity by shuffling them into the four center squares. When a jellyfish is in the center, it has a little meter that gets charged, then when its fully charged, it turns golden. If you slide a charging jellyfish, it will need to be recharged from scratch. When a jelly is golden it can attack, but only if its on the left or right side of the puzzle.

As you play, you’re constantly attacked by an octopus, sharks and piranha. The octopus will crawl out of its cave, and fire an ink shot that will land in five seconds. If it hits one of your tiles, you lose a bit of health. So you need to arrange the empty square Its pretty easy to stay safe, but where the game ratchets up the difficulty is with the other two. Sharks come from the right and just bash themselves into your puzzle to lose health.

The basic way to stop the sharks is to have a charged golden jellyfish in line with a shark to zap it away. The octopus is a different story, it has a life bar that will slowly drain when you zap it. You can hurt it more by lining up more than one charged jellyfish on the left. You attack by clicking on the enemy. There’s a pearl somewhere around the octopus, but I’ve never been able to defeat it in hours of playing. I was never able to make it past two minutes into each game.

As for the piranha, they attack a specific tile in a matter of time that will flash red. Even moving tiles so the piranha hits an empty tile will still freeze the tile next to it. So there’s no way to defend. Freezing the tile prevents it from moving and it damages your health.

At the bottom are four abilities that you can use, the sharp shooter will shoot nearby piranha or sharks to defeat them. Then you’ve got a freezer that will halt any enemy movement including projectiles for a few brief seconds. From there you’ve got defensive maneuvers like the ability to unfreeze one random frozen tile. Last and probably least useful is a teleport that will transfer two tiles.

Its all interesting, but feels too difficult than it should be. Enemies will always attack time after time and shifting things around feels cumbersome with a mouse. Maybe on a touch screen its better, but there’s a reason why its so difficult and that’s because this game is a grind.

Beyond your star fish and jellies, you also have a shell that needs to be in one of the center four squares if you’re going to charge it. Each time that it charges, you receive a coin. After your game, you visit the upgrades section to spend coins on things that make the game easier. An extra bit of health, faster recharge time for your jellies or your abilities will cool down faster. That’s another thing, each ability needs to cool down, but there’s no meter or any sort of way to highlight that they’re ready to use.

While your high score is kept in the game, the entire thing becomes about getting these coins to upgrade to last longer in order to get higher scores. Your first priority is to keep your shell in the center. Then buy upgrades to speed up the recharge rate so you get more coins. Each upgrade costs more money, so you’ll play longer and longer. If you mess up with your upgrades, you can reset them and get your cash back. I’d feel a lot better about the upgrade system if it was done in game and every new game resets your upgrades. That way it would be about playing the game, balancing upgrades and defense rather than getting the coins to buy upgrades.

I did find this to be an enjoyable puzzle game, but its the same every time. Your stars, jellies and shell are never randomized. The sharks and piranha will still come at the same time. There are two different modes, waves and survival, but they both feel the same and play the same. The only difference seems to be how you’re graded.

As for the music and sound they’re lackluster. There’s no title screen and the song in the actual game does have an aquatic theme to it. You’ll hear the octopus squeeze out its ink.

Anyone looking for settings, you won’t find any. Not even a way to turn off the music. The game could be enhanced by streamlining things, such as an upgrade button after each game instead of just back and replay buttons beneath the high score. There should be cool down meters for the abilities if not sound cues when they’re charged or even making them dim when they’re not charged.

Its a unique idea that I’d like to see more of, but the objective for me turned into getting the coins to upgrade. That just doesn’t feel like the point of a puzzle game. Its a family friendly casual game, but its difficult too quick. The more I played it, the more fun I had, but that’s only because the upgrades make it easier.

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