Bulb Boy is a unique 2D point-and-click adventure game developed by Polish indie studio Bulbware. You play as a curious little light bulb who lives with his grandfather and his flying pet Mothdog. The game is mainly about strategy, timing and trial and error in order to progress. The game uses easy and intuitive gameplay mechanics that are easy to pick up and the puzzles are a key feature throughout.
Bulb Boy starts its story in his living room, whilst he is watching television with his grandfather. You then decide to head off to bed and this is where the game uses a simple but clever way of introducing the basic gameplay controls. There isn’t much to the gameplay and sees you using the mouse to navigate the world. You use left click to move Bulb Boy to various areas, which reminded me of other adventure games that use a simple method of navigating the world. Things do become trickier as you need to guide Bulb Boy through dangerous situations with perfectly timed clicks and movement.
Bulb Boy awakes to discover that his Grandfather has gone missing and his house has been infested with hideous creatures and dangerous traps. You make your way through the luminous green rooms of the house one room at a time. You come across various areas of the house including the kitchen, bathroom and other areas that sees you encounter a variety of monstrous beasts. It’s up to you to save your Grandpa from the creatures and it seems unclear whether the creatures are real or you are having a nightmare. We get to know more about Bulb Boy and his life with his Grandfather through various flashbacks and scenes, which help to give more depth to the world.
Bulb Boy has some unique abilities that he can use to his advantage and fend off enemies in his path. Firstly, he can detach his large bulbous head and distract enemies with a bright light. You also can’t be electrocuted which comes in handy when trying to get through certain areas. The game mainly sees you controlling Bulb Boy but there are some situations that see you interact with Mothdog and you even get a small section to play as the Grandfather. The game does have a few tricky moments that require some thought, but overall it never gets too challenging and if you do get stuck there is a hint mechanic. I try to avoid using hint systems in games as I like to discover and work puzzles out myself as it ultimately feels more rewarding.
The game has some truly terrifying and interesting monsters that you will encounter throughout the duration, whether it’s giant spider, glowing worms or even a giant headless chicken it can feel pretty scary. The game doesn’t really use combat and sees you having to make your way past enemies by carefully planning and moving past them. You will find that you die a lot, but that’s ok as the game is about trial and error and thinking about how you could approach each situation. Death can be frequent and brutal and times and makes you feel as though you’re never safe. Mothdog helps you on your journey, who is loyal and has some unique abilities. Firstly, he can fly, which comes in handy. Mothdog can also pick up objects and move to areas that you can’t. This is where some of the puzzle elements come into play which I really enjoyed.
The game doesn’t have dialogue and the characters speak in non coherent gibberish, which is then displayed in the form of thought bubbles. These often show imagery of what you need to do and what the next objective is. I really liked this method of story telling and conversation as it adds to the weirdness and suits the overall tone of the game.
The overall design is fantastic and one of the strongest features is the sound design. There are constant unsettling background noises that create a sense of unease. There are many sound effects like Grandpas snoring, running water, creaking floorboards and other noises that add to the tension and make up for the lack of dialogue. The room designs are two-dimensional and monochromatic, either green or red, and clever use of light and shadow delivers an illusion of depth and lurking horror. You will have to navigate through the dark and gloomy house, with the light from your head to guide you. I absolutely loved the animation in this game, with monsters moving in creepy and realistic ways and Bulb Boy moves smoothly through each area.
Overall Bulb Boy is a fairly short experience that is beautifully designed. Bulb Boy is a unique and loveable main character that I really enjoyed playing as. The enemies in the game are truly grotesque and often made me jump and constantly on edge. The gameplay is simplistic but still has some challenging and thoughtful puzzles. The game is about good vs evil, light vs dark and the design and aesthetics do a great job of portraying this. The visual design often reminded me and felt similar to Tim Burton films and I would say it’s certainly worth checking out. I really enjoyed my time with this game, I only wish it was a little longer.
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