Row Your Boat is a deceptively tricky arcade game that challenges you to overcome its Flappy Bird-esque difficulty level to guide a kayak along a narrow river, collecting coins and dodging obstacles.
At first glance, Row Your Boat doesn’t present itself as a game that could drive you to tear out clumps of your hair in frustration. Its bright, cheery cartoon graphics and pleasantly pirate-y soundtrack imply “children’s game”, so naturally, you are completely unprepared for the game’s tricksy control scheme. Like a lot of top-down boating games, the controls for left and right direction movement are inverted. Pressing the ‘A’ or left arrow key will spin you clockwise and pressing the ‘D’ or right arrow key will spin your counter-clockwise. Alternating between the two keys will drive you in a mostly forward direction. If you are playing on the easier difficulty setting, you can also use the ‘W’ or up arrow key to move forward.
The biggest problem with these controls isn’t just that it feels unnatural to press left to move right, but that moving in any direction relies on carefully monitoring your momentum. Row Your Boat requires very light, very quick alternating taps to maintain any sort of control over your kayak. Don’t even think about holding a button down for more than a few seconds, or you will go careening into a wall. Row Your Boat’s teeth-grindingly difficult controls are tempered slightly by a checkpoint system and relatively short levels, but it doesn’t completely prevent the game from feeling like a chore to play. Fortunately, the developer is very receptive to feedback, so there is hope yet for this quirky little game. So if you’re sure your keyboard is secure and there is no way you could possibly lob it across the room, leaving a largeish dent in your wall that you will eventually have to drywall over, we encourage you to take Row Your Boat out for a test drive — even if only to see how it handles.
Play or Download Row Your Boat Here (Win, Mac, Linux & Browser)