We are powering up to rescue sea creatures in Origame’s latest small box game, the gorgeous tile flipping Reef Rescue!
Designer: Daryl Chow
Release date: 2022
Favouritefoefunlearning score 9/10
*Memory * Strategy * Push your Luck * Set Collection *
Reef Rescue is one of those games that comes in a small box but has a big message. There’s a whole world under the waves that is beautiful and colourful and mysterious. But its existence is under constant threat by our thoughtless and unsustainable ways. Dumping rubbish in the sea destroys the eco-system which has serious and devastating consequences for us all.
Now that’s a big concept to cover, particularly for little gamers. But Reef Rescue is one of those wonderfully thematic games that inspires a serious discussion without players even realising it. And that’s mainly because everyone’s too busy having fun playing to notice!
Save the Sea Creatures!
In Reef Rescue, we are Ocean Rangers trying to rescue large and small sea creatures that are at risk from being tangled up in garbage dumped by humans. It’s essentially a memory based tile flipping set collection game. But it also has a clever strategic special power twist.
So, to set it up, you shuffle the sea tiles and lay them face down in an 8 x 5 grid. Each player gets a set of 2 double sided cards showing 4 special powers.
On your turn, you choose which power you are going to use to explore the sea. You can only choose from the two face up. The powers show you which tiles you can turn, whether you can collect small or large sea creatures (or reef), and whether your tile retrieval is affected by any garbage tiles you flip or not.
When you have flipped over your tiles of choice (or in the case of the Turbo Torch sneaked a peek at 3 tiles and moved them around), you look to see what creatures are revealed. If your power lets you rescue small creatures, you take any showing. If there is a large creature and your power lets you take it, you need to have flipped both halves of the creature to collect it that turn. But if you have flipped any garbage tiles and your power is affected by it, you will have to flip all the tiles back over because you can’t collect anything this turn.
Once your turn is over, you flip the power card you just used to its opposite side ready for your next turn. When there are fewer than 10 tiles left, the game is over and it is time to add up the points from the sea creatures you have rescued.
Well I say the game is over…….but……. If you flip all the tiles face up, you can build them into the complete picture of the reef! It’s like a mini bonus puzzle and it was a lovely way to end rather than just gathering them up and popping them back in the box.
And I do need to mention the box itself because its lovely. The game has been packaged into the cutest sized box and the attention to detail on the artwork and the theme runs right round it. I understand this is the beginning of a small box range for Origame and I must confess to be excited to see them lined up on a shelf.
More than just a memory!
We have really enjoyed playing Reef Rescue. Knowing which of the two powers to use and when adds a great injection of strategy. This is particularly the case when you have a power you don’t really want to use yet, but you have to so that you can flip it over to gain access to the one on the reverse side next turn. Being able to peek and move is also a neat twist and definitely messes up memorising where the previously flipped tiles are sitting. And flipping over a garbage tile at the end of a great 5 tile run is so frustrating in the most fun sense!
More than just a memory game, Reef Rescue is a little hit of environmentally conscious gaming, and will be staying in the #favouritefoefunlearning library for sure.
Please note that a copy of this game was kindly provided by the publishers for review. I am not paid for my comments, however, and all opinions are my own. I am also not affiliated to or sponsored by any retail store.