While some gamers like to unwind after a long day with the latest flavor of the month first-person shooter (FPS) title, I would rather hop in my wetsuit and dive into Reef Shot – a first-person scuba adventure. Coming from developer Nano Games, Reef Shot puts you in the flippers of a freelance photographer as you explore the surrounding waters of Robinson Crusoe Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Accompanying you on the expedition is an enthusiastic biologist, although interaction between the two is limited as she only acts as the voice in your ear, letting you know which fish to snap photos of and where the next waypoint marker can be found. If it wasn’t for her one-sided conversation skills, Reef Shot would almost be a silent adventure. The camera makes typical clicking noises snaps pictures and the relaxing music sets the mood and fits the atmosphere, but there are absolutely zero sounds from any of the creatures that you encounter. It’s not a deal breaker, but I’ve always wondered what dolphins are always chattering about.
Broken up across eight different diving areas or missions, the game starts you with a simplistic point-and-click camera to learn the basics of the game. When taking pictures of wildlife, the motion detector will determine the quality of the pictures as you zoom in and out, rewarding a set number of stars depending on the quality. Obviously you want to earn as many stars as possible as they are used to purchase various perks, which I will explain further on in the review.
The auto focusing camera takes a small amount of time to focus, requiring you to try and keep the subject centered in the viewfinder as it swims in the water. The best and hardest camera to use requires manual focusing in the guise of on-screen meter that requires you to hold the button down to take the picture and release it at the right moment to earn the maximum amount of stars. Don’t expect to find any customization options, such as worrying about equipping different lenses or maximizing shutter speed.
As the amount of stars earned within a mission increases, you will be able to purchase beneficial perks at the cost of the stars. If you happen to run out of photos, you can simply purchase additional ones on the fly using the perk radial menu. Oxygen is handled in a similar fashion. Other perks will display waypoints on either fish or artifacts depending on what you are looking for at that moment. Most of the time everything is within close proximity, but might be obscured from view. The bonus mission perk unlocks places to explore, usually finding new species of fish or undiscovered relics to photograph.
Starting off as an adventure to photograph the local marine wildlife surrounding the island quickly turns into an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones to find the fabled Mayan ruins of El Dorado (The City of Gold). Your partner will share her wealth of knowledge about each species photographed, as well as trying her best to decipher all of the Mayan symbols and ruins found at the bottom of the ocean.
With sun rays that beautifully reflect on the ocean floor, plankton and other ocean particles that float past as you swim, Reef Shot is a relatively good looking game, but the ocean feels quite barren. I would have liked to see other marine species even if it was just in the background to liven up the underwater adventure.
Reef Shot is simplistic, but a relaxing adventure that will provide a great escape from the rest of your gaming library. Only lasting a handful of hours, Reef Shot doesn’t take long to go through and features a rather abrupt ending.Note: The Reef Shot review was written based on the PC version of the game provided to us.