Two years ago, the thought of playing an indie point n’ click game on the go was a dream far away in the horizon. Today, Bulb Boy launched in North American territories on the Nintendo Switch, and it is one of the most beautiful games on the console so far.
Bulb Boy…An excellent game with an acceptable port
The best way to play Bulb Boy, is going straight into a dark room, which is what I did. The game does not let you know much about what’s going on in the very beginning. You are first greeted with a simple frame of the main character with his family. As the night progresses, something dark takes hold of the bulb family house and it is up to you to help Bulb Boy rescue his family. The adventure is a non-linear narrative, jumping between the present nightmare and Bulb Boy’s childhood, which expands further on the story of the game.
The main objective is to progress through different rooms in order to rescue your family. This requires interacting with objects in order to clear the puzzles that are presented to you. Right from the start you have to figure out the controls by yourself. This is all thanks to there being no written dialogue whatsoever. Even though at the beginning they are pretty intuitive and basic, later on they become tedious when more elements come into play.
Welcome to the Bulb House
One of the things that makes Bulb Boy so unique is its setting. For most of the game, green is the primary color throughout the background. I thought this would get old, but it is incredible how each of the shades of green adds to the eerie atmosphere of the story. The design inside of house are colored in darker shades of green, while the boss stages feel more intense due to being colored with deep red tones. This emphasizes on the sense of danger presented in the fights.
The game allows you to choose the intensity of the brightness by adjusting Bulb Boy’s light, but the first hour feels like you’re playing the beginning hours of Resident Evil 7 because of the disturbing aura and how dark it is. Each of the levels are mysterious and making choices in-game feels both important and risky. This kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire game.
The storyline is self-contained in a very small space. In the Bulb world, you will explore the terrifying Bulb house, the icky sewer, and the botanic garden located outside your house. Each of these areas are introduced via a flashback from Bulb’s childhood. Some of these flashbacks are great, and some of them are not so good. Either way, they all offer you a glimpse of the story behind Bulb Boy.
Simplistic point n’ click gameplay
The Nintendo Switch is a console full of all sorts of unique features, and for those who don’t know, Bulb Boy was previously released as a point n’ click game for PC, iOS and Android. Due to this being a port I expected Bulb Boy to at least take advantage of the touchscree, however this was not the case. Personally, I feel like this was a missed opportunity to showcase the versatility of the Switch. I decided to play the opening scene both in handheld and in docked mode to compare how it runs. There was no true graphical difference between both play styles and the controls were the same.
Bulb Boy only presents 3 types of interactions which includes: walking, interacting, and full screen scenarios (basically button mashing). The simplicity of Bulb Boy is what makes the game so great. Bulb Boy is a true simplistic point n’ click game, but not everyone enjoys this kind of gameplay.
Bulb Boy is able to interact with many objects to clear puzzles and progress through the house. While some of these activities are really fun, particularly the stage where you transform into a spider, others are more tedious and may kill the experience for you. Interacting with the environment is a big part of the game and sometimes you need to be willing to sacrifice your current body to advance. The progression all feels organic, making you crave for what comes next.
The cutest horror game
Bulb Boy is a horror game, but it is also one of the most heartwarming story based games I have played on my Nintendo Switch. Bulb Boy has amazing determination and it is rewarding to watch him transform into both a relatable and adorable character. The other members of the cast also shine thanks to their characterization, which can be seen through their play styles. The cast varies from Grandpa-raffin, which is more of an ordinary grandparent, to a Moth Dog who is a quirky loyal pet.
More than meets the eye
Without a doubt, the best aspect of the game are the bosses. Each one of them is unique and can only be beaten by completing a more complex puzzle than the ones from before. In addition to the bosses being quite clever, they are terrifying thanks to the origin they have. Bosses range from a cute little spider to a gigantic poop.
Besides the bosses, one of my favorite aspects is the simplicity. One of the missions requires you to drink water as Moth Dog and then pee on a giant plant. I mean come on, this is some brilliant level design folks. It is impressive how some character’s abilities will help you progress in ways that you may find ridiculous.
The game is also full of easter eggs, 5,620 of them to be exact. In my playthrough I managed to encounter just a handful of these and they were quite funny. Samara from the ring is transformed into a bulb, and I also found what appeared to be a dead Angry Bird.
THAT IS SO FRUSTRATING!
Bulb Boy does have some VERY frustrating parts. Playing as Grandpa-raffin is as fun as it sounds. The only problem here is your goal is to water a plant, but that is quite difficult when grandpa can’t stay awake to save his life. You are forced to mash the A button in order to wake him up. I found this both repetitive and unnecessary. It dragged out the chapter way longer than it should have been.
I also found myself stuck at several parts due to having no hints on how to progress. Some parts I could have sworn I would never get past until I accidentally discovered how to move forward. I believe this is more of a problem that comes from porting a point n’ click game. Usually, these type of control schemes are more intuitive in the PC version or mobile platforms, but without touch screen capabilities, consoles can make gameplay slightly more difficult.
Bulb Boy is a great addition to the Switch library. The beautiful artwork and story make the game worth buying for the minimal price tag. The horror genre is rarely successful when humor and puzzles are thrown into the mix, but Bulb Boy does a great job at bringing these genres together. The only true negatives are the lack of touch input, paired with some frustratingly difficult areas to get past. Bulb Boy also left me feeling as if the game was way too short. I only got about 2 hours of gameplay out of this game which is quite low. If you can get over these small cons, then Bulb Boy is well worth grabbing for your Nintendo Switch.