Bulb Boy (Switch eShop) Review
The more I think about it, the more the Switch seems like a perfect platform for point and click adventure games. It’s surprising then that Bulb Boy is the first example of the genre I’ve seen on Switch. As an ambassador the game style it has its faults, but it’s commitment to aesthetic makes it a unique if shallow little experience.
Bulb Boy begins with our main boy chilling with his grandpa and their family dog until a mysterious dark presence pervades the house and takes away old grandpa oil-lamp. Your boy is understandably terrified but determined to do what he must to being his little family back. Bulb Boy’s head is – well it’s a light bulb. Against the ever-present darkness of his environment, the boy’s shining cranium is the perfect tool to navigate the hazardous nightmare landscape that now stands around him.
Bulb Boy is entirely dedicated to it’s aesthetic, it’s gross-out cutesy style utterly defines it. Almost the entire game from start to finish is presented in a green-scale colour palette. Our main characters are endearingly designed, their cute looks painting a striking juxtaposition against the disgusting environments they inhabit. After a while you’ll stop feeling confronted with the repulsive scenes, vomit, piss and faeces become the norm. Yes, that’s poo.
These revolting locales form the bulk of Bulb’s gameplay. As a point and click adventure game, you control the boy in small contained puzzle rooms that need to be solved to progress. The logical challenges posed in Bulb Boy are never particularly complex, rarely requiring more than some basic exploration to find items and experimentation using these objects to interact with something else in the room. Some rooms contain hazards that can kill Bulb Boy instantly, but the game has generous checkpoints so you never lose much progress. You’ll never feel discouraged to experiment in finding a solution to the room.
Rather than directing our character with clicks like traditional adventures, you control the boy directly with control sticks. Objects that can be interacted with will have an arrow appear above them when nearby, and this works well for the most part. There are a few puzzles though where I felt that this control method didn’t mesh well with the objects you need to use to progress. It’s only a minor quibble, but with a mouse, you can scan the screen and find interactable objects without regard to Bulb Boy’s on-screen position, however, with the direct control it’s easy to miss indicators on occasion and feel stumped. Most of the time interactive objects are indicated next to our character, however, sometimes the object can be far away from him and so the indicator is easily missed. This is clearly a downside to the direct control and only becomes an issue very occasionally, but I felt that more concession should be made to the fact you can’t find interactions with a pointer.
Whether you appreciate Bulb Boy’s aesthetic will entirely determine how much you’ll enjoy the game. The puzzles aren’t terribly inventive, but serve to make you explore and find ever more off-putting scenery. Our characters’ seeming obliviousness to the repulsiveness of their situation and their endless positivity in the face of darkness is endearing. All told the game will take only a few hours to complete. Bulb Boy’s puzzles and general gameplay style feels less important, serving as a vehicle to show you the oddness of its world.
Expect nothing inventive or complex with its puzzle design, but if the idea of a cute family in a uniquely gross and dark world sounds appealing you might just enjoy your time with this brief little adventure.