Bulb Boy – What We Think:
Bulb Boy, by the aptly named studio Bulbware, is a weird but entertaining point-and-click game. It doesn’t take long before you realize that this strange adventure about a young Bulb Boy only gets stranger, and that this tale is over before you know it.
Bulb Boy lives in a house with his grandpa and dog. After a night of TV, Bulb Boy’s grandpa falls asleep so he decides to go to bed, too. While he sleeps, a large black cloud enters their home and starts taking taking over the house, giving life to creatures and inanimate objects. Bulb Boy wakes up and realizes that his dog and grandpa are missing. It’s up to Bulb Boy to find his family and rescue his once humble abode from the darkness.
The game is highly stylized – everything from the slick animations to the eerie soundtrack. It’s grotesque and macabre, very reminiscent of an Edmund McMillen game. You fight a feces monster – cook and eat a deformed turkey monster – to give you a sense of the game’s aesthetic.
You can inhabit corpses of dead creatures that give you new abilities. You go up against spiders and black tentacled creatures and even enter the very essence of your grandfather to kill the darkness inside of him. It’s all dark in tone, but manages to have some cuteness as well.
Bulb Boy is very expressive and will react fearfully if certain creatures act happy when he accomplishes a goal. You start to feel bad for him, since he’s just a child. It’s a great example of a game that uses its animation to make you care and empathize with a particular character.
The game’s weirdness is complemented by dark, deep synth sounds with organs and low drum beats. It’s foreboding, and its melodic tunes fit the game’s atmosphere like a glove. The game’s eerie atmosphere is a grotesque treat and definitely kept me playing to see what horrors I’d run into next.
Straight Ahead Til Dawn
Bulb Boy plays like a standard, linear point-and-click adventure title; you pick up objects and use them on things in the environment to progress. There is only one clear solution to the game’s simplistic puzzles, and only a small amount of environmental exploration. It’s the definition of a modern, streamlined point-and-click game that focuses more on telling a story and less on exploring and puzzles.
It’s so streamlined, in fact, that items you pick up automatically vanish from your inventory when they’re no longer needed. It takes out the monotonous guessing found in many point-and-clickers.
The streamlined nature of Bulb Boy is nice, since it helps the game’s pace, but it does take away some challenge and freedom. You only pick up a handful of objects throughout the game, and the puzzles, some would argue, are very easy. You follow a strict linear path that severely hinders exploration in an odd but fascinating setting, which is a shame.
The game mixes up the linear gameplay once in a while by offering time-based puzzles and instances that require multiple mouse clicks to simulate physical struggle. These variations on the gameplay are not all that exciting, but within the game’s context they make sense. It doesn’t feel forced or unnecessary, like the more action-based gameplay in Full Throttle.
Besides the weird situations and puzzles, the game’s narrative is not very interesting. It’s not long either, since it can easily be beaten within a couple of hours. Its length actually helps the game feel more like a compact, bite-sized experience. It reminds me of an animation short that would have aired during MTV’s Liquid Television program during the ’90s. It’s short, odd, but highly engaging.
Bulb Boy manages to create an engaging, fun, modern little point-and-click game. Some people will argue that it’s too simple and too short, but I didn’t mind, since the game was an enjoyable, twisted experience regardless. If you’re not turned off by this game’s weirdness, I encourage you to go and help Bulb Boy save his family.
Bulb Boy is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Bulb Boy below: