Review: Bulb Boy Is A Charming Exploration Of The Macabre
The cutest nightmare you can ever play through
- Worth The Time?Yes
- Things LovedThe cute art style and the general aesthetic of the game. The puzzles are simple and easy to solve while also requiring some thinking power. Great design of the levels and puzzles. Charming story and characters.
- Things HatedBit on the short side coming in at 2 hours. The "dialogue" sounds of the characters are a bit grating. Puzzles that rely on backtracking or unneeded patience.
- RecommendationIf you're looking for a nice little point-and-click with a charming art style and that is a treat to play, you can do much worse. It's a short experience, however, and it might be wise to wait for a sale to pick it up.
- Name: Bulb Boy
- Genre: Point & Click Nightmares
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: No
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Bulbware
- Publisher: Bulbware
- Price: R109
- Reviewed On: PC
Ever seen those pictures of the teddy bears with human teeth in them? They’re really upsetting yet there’s some part of you that still thinks it’s kind of adorable. That’s basically what Bulb Boy is. Adorable, but creepy as all hell. It’s a faithful point-and-click adventure game where you play as a boy with a bulb as his head. One night, everything goes to shit in his house and all sorts of monstrosities and horrors come out to terrorize the poor little boy and his sleep apnea ridden grandpa that looks like a bong.
The way the game works for the most part is that you have one room to explore and you have to interact with items and traverse it until you reach a solution and then move on to the next room. Pretty simple, but it’s very well executed. Since the gameplay is contained to individual rooms, you don’t really feel fatigued and easily bored which is a common problem in most point-and-click games. The rooms usually also contain a monster of some description and let me tell you now, these monsters are some nightmare inducing bastards.
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Since Bulb Boy has a detachable head, he can utilize this ability to traverse dangerous areas and even possess some creatures. It is also his downfall since if he does not have a body around, he can only roll around and interact with things using his tongue. So essentially you have to use your head and then use your head to solve the puzzles. I sincerely apologize.
The puzzles themselves are pretty simple to figure out and some basic logic can solve your dilemma pretty easily. However, the puzzles never felt so easy that they lost any sort of challenge and finding a solution still felt satisfying. Other than that, there are also twitch based puzzles where you have to dodge stuff or quickly move around the area in order to not die. These tests of reflexes, much like the puzzles, are pretty easy, but also not too easy. The game strikes a nice balance between challenging and fun which is a major point in its favour.
It is however important to note that some puzzles are sometimes a little frustrating because of some backtracking and tests of patience, but these instances are few and far between so it really isn’t a catastrophic fault. Some minor design considerations could have been made to improve some parts a little.
The most interesting aspect of the game is probably the aesthetic. It has this children’s cartoon look about it reminiscent of cartoons like Adventure Time and its ilk, but rather than being adorable and fit for children, it can get really fucked up. The monster designs in particular lean more on the macabre side than the cutesy side. The backgrounds also have this sinister look of evil about them and if you pay attention, you can see some pretty messed up stuff.
This contrast between the cute and the horrific is what makes the game rather special. While not being completely horrifying to the point where you’re screaming in your chair, it still remains unsettling. It makes for an interesting experience and an enjoyable one at that.
The sound design for the game is mostly stellar. The music in particular is excellent with nice instrumentation and vocal work done. Sound effects are also well crafted and appropriate for the most part. However, the made up language that the characters talk and the voices of the various anthropomorphic bulbs can be annoying. They went with the Satanic sounding backmasking technique that makes things sound pretty sinister, but the sounds made me grate my teeth a little.
The game is fairly short clocking in at around 2 hours. While it has such a short runtime, it didn’t feel woefully short and you’ll still feel like you got a worthwhile experience out of it. However, it is a bit short for the price and I’d maybe recommend waiting for a sale to pick it up. Even at full price I’d still recommend it since it is such a unique and fascinating journey. The puzzles are satisfying, it looks incredible and the creepy but adorable aesthetic really brings it together nicely.
If you’re looking for a quick little experience with a whole lot of charm, then Bulb Boy carries a big recommendation.