A free to play game with in-app purchases, I played around 15 hours & made it to level 13. I did not pay a single penny in-game & this review will reflect that…
I picked up Nemo’s Reef in the hope that I was getting something similar to Jurassic Park Builder (a free to play game that wasn’t harsh on the in-app purchases) but instead I ended up with a game that is closer to Theme Park style of free to play (barely able to make any progress without paying)…
What makes Nemo’s Reef so much worse though is that it is aimed at kids so its attempts to woo you into paying for in-app purchase tries to take advantage of that…
So what we have here is your basic builder game….Nemo has a reef as part of a school project that he is tasked with building on & improving. Helped by his father & many characters that are recognisable to fans it is up to Nemo to try & make his reef the most successful out of all his classmates.
To do this he has to attract more & more unique fish to the reef by building plants, decorations & places for them to live. There are 3 major currencies that Nemo has to use, they are:
• Sand Dollars: This is what you will mostly be spending to buy Living Plants, Corals, Decorations & Rare Plants.
• Algae: Used to ‘fertilize’ new builds until they are completed.
• Pearls: Rare items that are used to buy certain special items, open chests & speed up production of most things.
Living Plants, once fully created, will give out sand dollars after a set amount of time, Coral will give out algae after a set amount of time & ornamental decorations will give out vitality (which is the health of your reef – the healthier it is the more fish will be attracted to it). The rest of your building tools, called the nursery, all relate to the look of your reef & attracting rare fish.
You see besides creating a nice looking reef the aim is to also have a nice full collection of fish. These come as you level up, as your reef improves & when you are tasked with meeting rare fish requirements to make them stay. With fish viewable in your own collection menu this at least adds a certain level of achievement in the game for a player to reach.
Frustratingly though is the cost of everything, meaning you will spend far too long just waiting around for money to buy even the cheapest of items. You can spend 300 sand dollars on a living plant & its hourly return is only 20 sand dollars. It’s not a fair balance & is clearly designed to tempt you with in-app purchases.
Quests make up for these paltry returns though as they come thick & fast & while may take some time to complete because of lack of sand dollars once they are they often give a nice bonus towards algae & sand dollars.
Nemo’s Reef looks pretty & has a really relaxing sound-track that hides its nasty intentions…you won’t often find me speaking so poorly of a game that is free with in-app purchases as no-one is forcing you to pay for them but this game has some disgraceful ways to get the money out of you.
So…pearls, the toughest currency to get while also being the one to progress the game the most. They are low in number, yet can be used to speed up the builds of all items, open random chests that drop (4 pearls!?) & buy rarer items. You can exchange pearls for sand dollars but not vice versa (of course) & as an example 3000 pearls would set you back £34.99 but a simple rock costs 15 pearls to buy before it has gone through its 3 stages of building (which you need algae for or you can pay with pearls…of course).
Throw in quick finishes to homework set by Nemo’s teacher & hints on how to make a rare fish stay in the reef & the pearls will be gone before you know it. Disappointing…
You can gain a few free pearls by watching a few videos or more by signing up for offers or events in-game (most cost you though so be careful).
As I said at the start this is a game that is aimed at kids which is where the in-app purchases take a sinister turn. Make sure you’re account is password locked as a kid could buy any number of offers within 2 clicks. Certain quest conversations lead you directly to the in-app purchase page as Nemo’s father suggests you ‘speed up production’. It is the worst I’ve seen & way to in-your face (I’ve heard there are worse though) which is a pity as it is not a bad little builder game.
It’s simple enough to keep kids interested while also having enough depth to keep older players coming back.
The pushy in-app purchases & terrible attempts to trick the younger generation into buying them let this game down hugely. The Disney association, the characters & wealth of things to do should have made this a winner but instead I’ve struggled to make any real progress because I’ve not been willing to spend real money on it.