Open sea is a dangerous place where a small fish can easily be lost or end up in bigger and hungrier monster mouth. But the mythical safety of the colorful coral reef can prove to be unattainable. This is because the closed community has extended patrols. Terrible monsters will not slip by. Or would they?
Similar danger awaits players – fish – in Riff Route. Created by Arpad Fritsche, his idea was made into boxed form in 2016. All the plus points for publishing it are attributed to Logis company.
Relatively small and blue box covered in sea contains a game board, that is folded in half. After spreading it on the table, an elongated plan will be created showing the coral reef and its surroundings. In landscape it offers ten boxes, while being only eight spaces heigh. To the left is undoubtedly a free ocean, from which small fishes seeking shelter will approach. To the right is their dream country – a coral reef.
Players first draw three predators and place them on the map in two right columns so that there is always at least one loose row between them. Then they agree, how many fish in their chosen color will be available. These figures are placed in two outer columns, but this time on the left side of the board. First in one and then in the second column, so each of them contains fish of all colors.
Rivals then alternate in rolling a pair of dice. Each time, they must act according to the results they roll – it may be a specific color of the fish or the silhouette of the jagged predator. Whenever a player rolls a hungry carnivore, he must move it one step (in this case from right to left) or up / down.
It is only then, that some fish can swim to safety. Always only one color is moved and rarely player moves his own piece. These small fish can move not only forward (from left to right), but also up and down as well as the predator. However, this does not apply if the fish does not belong to the player – such a fish can only move forward and can not maneuver, ie fall or ascend, at all.
Both dice are identical, so fish keep moving forward. Predators come out into the open sea and meet their prey, while small fish try to slide through and get to safety. But if the predator comes to the same box where the fish is, it becomes food. Game ends when the only one player’s fish remains on the plan. Reverse situation is possible by getting fishes to shelter.
Riff Route is a simple roll-and-move game, in which everything is controlled by dice. It also makes it clear that it will probably not appeal to older players. Instead, its target group is in preschool children. And while in the case of all older group target, we would probably not have much word of praise because the game does not offer anything extremely interesting, everything is different for the very smallest kids.
This is because the game primarily supports tactical thinking. Most of the time you have a choice between movement of several fishes and on top of that, you choose also way they move. Unfortunately, climbing and descent offers maneuvering, that does not force the player to move forward. An exception is enemy fish. That should be enough, but if predators do not move forward, it is not such fun.
In a smaller number of players, author recommends to include other colors in the game. Thanks to this, once again, some fishes move even when they do not belong to any player and can be used for blocking. However, it is better to use them as bait for predators. The game is variable due to the different predators available, with only three of them being used every time. But they differ only in dimensions, so its not such a big deal.
When more players play and live in the water, they can harm each other very well. This is what distinguishes impressions in individual numbers. And the matches are not long and last for about ten minutes, which is ideal for this target audience.
Thing, where the game definitely stands out, is the beautiful cartoon graphics that seem to come out of an animated movie. Not just on the lid of the box or on the tiles, but above all on the luxurious game board. Moreover, grid of the plan is very gentle and its grid blends nicely with the picture, so it does not spoil the overall impression.
Riff Route is an excellent game for young children. Anyone older will be a little embarrassed because the dice decide, what you can and cannot do and which fish can move. These moves are not fast or variable, but the kids have great fun nevertheless. Riff Route is therefore a nice and beautifully cartoon fun especially for the youngest players.
Riff Route is primarily a children's entertainment. It does not play to be anything and its lets things pass and have fun with the fish. There is no Nemo or Dory, but the game looks pretty and has detailed graphics. Dice give instructions for movement and also allow to ride rival fishes. It's enough trickery for the game to keep children's attention for ten minutes. Everything is simple and ideal for kids. And that's what Riff Route delivers.