Bulb Boy Review
For the purpose of transparency, this review was completed using a review code provided by Bulbware. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of this product.
Bulb Boy is point and click horror game, that has made it’s way over to Nintendo’s latest system. The game has previously been released on both mobile and PC – but how does it hold up on the Switch?
Now, I am not sure where to start when trying to explain what this indie game is, or even how it passed Nintendo’s approval for the Switch. Not that it’s a bad game at all, it’s all just seemed a little surreal for Nintendo. But, it does show Nintendo are really going to cater for all types of gamers with the Switch.
The game starts out in a normal family orientated scene, a young boy relaxing with the Grandad and dog watching some TV before bed. After completing the first puzzle and you head to bed it soon becomes clear this is not as normal as it could be, because some big black blob comes down into the house and transforms your Grandad into some hideous monster. This where the aforementioned surreal element comes into the game, this unknown black blob spreads around the house, taking all sorts forms – and your job as Bulb Boy is to save your family from the nightmarish situation.
The gameplay is very much what you expect from a point and click game. However, the puzzles never get to the point where they become overly difficult, which for me is a bit of a shame. In each area of the house or in some playable flashbacks you are provided with an objective to move on to the next part of the game. The main mechanic in the puzzles comes from the bulb part of Bulb Boy, where this used to light up the areas, or even be removed in order to avoid/hide from hideous monsters now inhabiting the house.
Through out the game you will come up against what I would class as bosses, in many forms be it a giant headless turkey or a giant poo monster you’ve dropped off in the toilet yourself. These can become challenging at times due to the one-hit and your dead mechanic in the game, when it comes to taking on these. However, where this could have been irritating and frustrating, the great thing Bulbware have included is a decent autosave/check-point system that makes these deaths not seem as bad.
When approaching the puzzles you are sometimes greeted with speech bubbles that can offer hints, but, if you are truly stuck you can ask for tips from the pause menu. Although I never used this option and was never overly stumped by a puzzle, it’s an option if you are and can not figure out what to do.
One thing I totally loved about the Bulb Boy was the visual approach the game took. At times when adding the visuals with the surreal nature of the game, it really reminded me of Courage the Cowardly Dog. The game is very cartoony and cute – but don’t let this fool you, the game will soon even out the cuteness with weirdness.
The colour scheme is a mix of green’s mainly, but is then joined with red for some sections. While playing the game inside the house the greens used are very dark, helping with the eerie weird feeling the game wants to give off. The red colour only comes into play as something bad is happening or in result of your death (which will happen). The game then uses greens again when playing the lighter dream/flashback sequences, the greens on these parts are a lot lighter, giving off that relaxed feeling. This mix of colour palettes depending on the situation really helps the game give off the true weird/horror feeling that it needs.
At first I was not sure how the game would port over to the Switch, with the PC the perfect platform for point and click games and the mobile being touch screen. At first I thought maybe the Switch would follow the touch screen from the mobile version – with titles like Human Resource Machine doing this. But, Bulbware have made this a proper port with the game taking on the use of the Joy-cons, leaving it open for both handheld and docked play.
So rather than the conventional click of the mouse or tapping the screen, you will find yourself controlling Bulb Boy with the analogue on the left Joy-con – which feels really natural. Then objects in the game that you can interact will become highlighted, meaning you won’t spend all your time randomly trying to press on objects with A on the right Joy-con. Finally you can navigate through the objects you have collected to complete the puzzles using the left and right Bumper buttons, and from watching videos of the other versions online this way seems the best from all versions. I was actually quite surprised on the great job the team had done porting it the Switch and the control scheme they’ve got in place.
Now, unfortunately the game does come with one issue, and that is the longevity. I took me around 2-3 hours to complete the game, and I really do not see many people going back to play it again once they’ve finished it. I think the longevity could have been extended by making some of the later puzzles a bit more challenging. However, the game is not one you will play-through in one sitting, I found I would be completing a few of the puzzles, and then turning it off. Don’t get me wrong it was not because the game was not gripping enough to keep my attention, I just found it worked better this way.