Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Release date: October 29, 2015
Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat - Bulb Boy is an incredibly weird game. From the music to the puzzle design, Bulb Boy delights in bombarding the player with gruesome and disturbing visuals. However, beneath the layer of grime and filth in which Bulb Boy resides lies a competent, if short, adventure game.
Bulb Boy was first unveiled as a Kickstarter game which failed before reaching its goal. Despite this, the game found its way to Steam Greenlight and was released on October 29, 2015. The release date is notable as it's the perfect Halloween adventure game. Bulb Boy's struggle to save his family from dark creatures is accompanied by some of the most uncomfortably gross and gruesome scenes I've ever seen in an adventure game. The developer, Bulbware, has managed to craft a style that is both cute and horrifying, and that style permeates every aspect of its game.
Bulb Boy begins with the titular character living peacefully in his home with his grandfather and Mothdog, the family pet. The world is bathed in a sickly green light that Bulb Boy himself casts. Bulb Boy’s head is, somewhat predictably, a light bulb, and he can detach his head in order to solve puzzles and reach new locations. This comes in handy when a dark force of terrifying monsters invades his home and kidnaps his family.
Bulb Boy’s quest to save his family takes him to some very dark places and pits him against some of the most visually distinct and disturbing enemies I’ve ever seen in an adventure game. Some of the creatures are reminiscent of the enemies found in the Binding of Isaac, but Bulb Boy twists the design a bit, giving everything a sort of cartoony feel. In fact, even the grossest monsters in the house look like they could've been ripped straight from a Tim Burton animated cartoon.
Bulb Boy himself is a weird, cute protagonist. He's constantly afraid and cowers away from the more disturbing enemies in the game. He doesn’t speak, but his cheers for joy sound very bizarre. Bulb Boy’s voice sounds like what would happen if you pitched a child’s voice down an octave. It's cute when he celebrates or cowers, but unnerving at the same time. Despite this, Bulb Boy is easy to root for, and the various flashbacks that show Bulb Boy playing with his grandfather made me invested in his quest to save his family.
Every adventure game lives or dies on the strength of its puzzles, and Bulb Boy does a satisfactory job in creating interesting puzzles. While none of the puzzles are very hard, they are always very interesting to solve. The solution almost always involves some weird mechanic, like hiding in a severed pig head or controlling a suit of armor to cut off a malformed arm. The puzzles never made me stop and think, but they did make me laugh and cringe as Bulb Boy performed some gruesome task in order to proceed.
Creativity is where Bulb Boy really shines. Despite being an easy game, the puzzles still manage to be fun because of their clever implementation. Bulb Boy’s aesthetics also add considerable amounts of fun to what would normally be very straightforward puzzles. Instead of finding 3 keys to unlock a door, Bulb Boy has you finding 3 dead bugs to pay off the massive spider that guards his door. Need to get past the giant headless chicken that guards the kitchen? Bake it a pie! It’s the weird ideas that make Bulb Boy memorable, and they're plenty of them to be found in Bulb Boy’s home.
Bulb Boy is a bizarre adventure game that features a disturbing art style and creative puzzle solutions. It's simultaneously cute and gross, which makes for a unique playing experience unlike any seen in other adventure games. While it won’t provide much of a challenge, Bulb Boy’s strength lies in its clever use of its disturbing aesthetic to solve puzzles. It is a short game, but it’s a fun ride while it lasts. While certainly not the best game on the market, Bulb Boy has enough variety and style to warrant a playthrough.
For anyone interested, a free Demo is available.
+ Cute and creepy
+ Creative puzzle design
+ Unique, playful protagonist
- Very easy