It is easy to know when you have something great on your hands when you have years and years of quality comparisons to make. Though you may not always want to relate one game, movie, or song to another for fear of hurting the creative appeal it has, it is undeniably hard to not make correlations to other bodies of work. Thankfully with Bulb Boy, the only comparisons I drew were from pop-culture icons that I whole-heartedly love, and now Bulb Boy sits among them without a speck of doubt that it is wholly original in itself. Bulb Boy looks like Adventure Time, scares like Evil Dead, and feels like Limbo, three fantastic properties that I am known to adore. Bulb Boy is all of these and none of these at the same time, remaining true to itself and delivering one amazingly strung together tale about a quirky family in a frightening situation.
Bulb Boy is a point-and-click adventure title that sees the titular hero thrown into a night of horror. Using your wits and his luminous glass head, players must guide the poor boy through a living-nightmare to save his dog and grandfather (I am making an assumption here) from a dark and vile force. Developers Bulbware released this now indie hit on Steam back in 2015, and it currently sits with a very positive 91% rating after over 150 reviews were tallied. That score is well deserved, lining up with my score for the recently released Nintendo Switch version. It is a great fit for the Switch, easily sitting as one of the best experiences I have had on the freshman console so far. A simple point and click game like this makes out great in the hand held mode, making it an easy title to get cozied up in bed with. It also does not overstay its welcome, with a well time adventure running only about three hours or so. I think the jump to Switch was a smart one, coming at a perfect time for me personally.
As a point and click adventure, the games control scheme is fairly simply. You will not find any quirky controls here that would make extra use of the systems abilities like touch controls, but rather a standard affair of sorts. You move Bulb Boy around with the left analog stick, interact with the “A” button, and switch between collected items with the bumpers. These simple enough controls make playing it a breeze, and to my surprise, the game gets more engaging at certain segments. There are many “boss” style fight scenarios, where Bulb Boy has to figure out how to clear the area of a particular monster. While most are solved by way of figuring out the “puzzles” solutions, some of them have some light platforming sections which really added a more engaging side to the gameplay. It was a great change of pace for the title, which has a stellar pace to it throughout. It plays out with a solid balance of creepy and charming, with both of these styles being incredibly presented both visually and audibly.
Bulb Boy has a captivating visual style, one that passionately reminded me of my love for Adventure Time. Like the aforementioned cartoon hit, Bulb Boy manages to be endearing, comedic, and often creepy all at once. It just looks great, and there is nothing more endearing then seeing Bulb Boy crack a smile even in this time of despair. Whether it is in flashbacks of more peaceful times or a success over evil in the present, Bulb Boy manages to find joy in the little things. He and his family are a delight to see in action, with his flying dog whizzing around and his grandpa dozing off, the characters are very alive and vocal without ever saying real words. That is also where the power of the audio comes in. Inaudible dialogue further adds to the quirkiness of the cast, and bellowing gurgles bring the scary enemies into full swing. The game is not entirely terrifying, but the sound direction really amps up the spooky vibes. It’s super easy to love with all that in mind. The scenery and humor that is blended into the interactions, whether it is grabbing something with your tongue when you temporarily leave your body or having to fight a grotesque monster made of fecal matter, Bulb Boy is the full package aesthetically.
I have absolutely zero complaints about this game. I love its charm, its vibes, its length, its aesthetic, and everything in between. It is quite the package when considering its price and what you get out of it having it as a portable option on the Switch. It is right at home on the hybrid console, both looking and sounding phenomenal. It plays great, offering up near perfectly balanced puzzles that do not tease the brain too much but allow for enough exploration and out of the box thinking. Bulb Boy offers a fun little adventure that has the grotesque charm that many fans of Adventure Time will be familiar with. This indie title burns bright, never ceasing to make for a worthwhile adventure.
Xbox One Notes (Updated 10/6/2017):
When we did a review of Bulb Boy on the Nintendo Switch earlier this year, I had high hopes that the game would be coming to Xbox One at some point in the near future. Luckily, the game was ported to the Xbox One and released on October 6, 2017. First off, I would like to express that I 100% agree with Ed’s original evaluation of this title and I am extremely happy I was able to go down this amazing adventure. This version does not hold any punches and provides the same story as original versions of the game. With this in mind, the game is just as grotesque and majestic as the Nintendo Switch version.
This game was near perfect as the creepy atmosphere mellowed so well with the heartfelt story of a boy just trying to save his grandfather. This really made me root for Bulb Boy and wants to see him overcome the monstrosities that were invading his home and family. While I was really enjoying the story, the dilapidated appeal of the house around him and the intense horror of the monsters were definitely the best part. The monsters’ appearances were right out of your nightmares and they made you think twice before crossing them.
The only issue that I had with this title is a similar issue that I see in most point and click adventure titles that come to console. I felt that the inventory could be a bit clunky and the process of selecting a certain point become cumbersome when various points were around each other. The way that you selected a point is to walk near it until an arrow appears above it. This sounds simple and it worked great for points that were separated by a bit of a distance. However, when separate interactions were close by, sometimes you would need to fight with the controls a bit.
However, this issue did not take anything away from this game and I was more than happy to continue playing through it to the end. This is a title that you do not want to miss out on and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a creepy, but charming point and click adventure. Even if you have already played this game on another platform, I would not hesitate to play this game again.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 9/10
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