It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Where’s My Water 2 is free-to-play. In this day and age it practically had to be. Any smart company knows they’ll make more money by giving a popular game away and charging piecemeal for extra stuff inside of it. That’s been proven for years by the top-grossing apps list in iTunes. Now all Disney has to do is wait for the money bags roll in.
Fine, I can live with that. But not all free-to-play models are created equal, and Where’s My Water 2 uses a pretty annoying one: the ever-depleting energy bar. A green bar sits in the corner of the screen, and each time you play a level you lose a chunk of energy. Once your energy is used up, you can either wait for it to regenerate on its own, or spend money to recharge it manually.
This means that any sane person with a limited budget will have to put the game down and come back to it many, many times. This doesn’t ruin the game, but the wall brings a layer of aggravation that wasn’t present in any previous entry in the series.
The game itself is great, though. The goal is still to dig through dirt to guide liquid or gas where it needs to go. You can still collect rubber ducks in each level, and find hidden goodies. It has all the cartoonish fun and style of the previous games, plus a number of added challenges and objectives you’d expect in a sequel.
New this time around are auto-scrolling levels, where you have to keep the water on the screen as the camera glides along. These are really fun, because you have to think fast, swipe madly, and never stop looking ahead. They also have levels that flip gravity–which is way more taxing on the brain than you might expect–and levels where you have to avoid the rubber ducks or hit music notes in order. They’ve also added power-ups you can earn or purchase, and included levels for Allie and Cranky. It’s all a lot of fun, at least until you hit the paywall and have to take a break.
The free-to-play model isn’t ideal, but it’s less heinous than the one in Candy Crush Saga, where you can’t reasonably progress without buying power-ups. The game is free, and the levels are well constructed and enjoyable to play. So could the game be better? Definitely. Should you download it anyway? Yes, you should.