Genre: 2D Point-and-Click Adventure
Release date: February 28, 2017
Bayou Island begins when Captain Chris suddenly finds himself on a strange island with no idea how he got there or where he is. The last thing he remembers is being at sea, on his boat, with his wife and other passengers. Like many tourist destinations, the town includes bars, shops, and a graveyard. Specifically, a Tiki Bar and a Day-of-the-Dead store add to the tropical island atmosphere. The game’s objective is to discover what happened by exploring the town and interacting with residents. There is a surprise turn of events at the end, which I will not spoil for those who play.
The game is a traditional point-and-click adventure with a graphics style that is vaguely reminiscent of titles such as Monkey Island . There are extensive dialog trees with conversation topics and inventory-based puzzles. For those who would rather read than listen, you have a ‘Skip’ option to move the dialog along. And, when you click on the screen, the character walks (at a reasonable pace) to the point you have selected.
The voice-overs are easy to listen to and the music changes to reflect the mood of specific scenes. All in all, the soundtrack for Bayou Island is very well done.
The game is auto-saved behind the scenes, so your progress is never lost. An icon is available to force a save to a single slot. The only settings available are those to adjust volume with separate controls provided for sound effects, music and voice. A menu option to Quit is nowhere to be seen so I just hit the ESC key to minimize the window and then closed it to exit Bayou Island.
A magnifying glass can be clicked on to show hot spots on each screen. When you click on an active area, you get a set of icons for applicable actions such as examine, take, walk, talk or open/close. Some or part of the text command that is being executed appears on the screen as icons are selected (Walk to, or Use hammer on wall, etc.).
Inventory is managed by clicking on a treasure chest to display items in your possession. Once inventory is opened, examining an item is a two-click process. First, you click on the eye (to examine) and then click on the item. Likewise, using an item is a three-click process. First, you click on the arm (to use), then click on the item and, finally, click on the place to be used. Combining items is done by dragging and dropping within the inventory window. I found this to be very counterintuitive and awkward. I repeatedly opened inventory and clicked on an item, causing inventory to close (sigh…).
Even after playing for over an hour, I was still closing inventory by accident on a regular basis. I would have preferred to click once on an inventory item to examine and then drag and drop to use. This would have been easier and more in line with other similar games.
Bayou Island is a very short game, with a simple story and only a handful of characters and scenes. I completed the game in about 90 minutes but I had two major sticking points. The first involved a numeric combination that I could not figure out. I had the right clues, was looking in the right place, but nothing I tried worked. Finally, I went to a discussion board and found others had hit the same snag. With 20/20 hindsight, the answer makes sense but I’m not sure I would have reached it on my own.
I then came to a screeching halt when I thought I had exhausted all actions. I had used every inventory item in every hot spot and repeatedly talked to the only character I could find. I knew what I needed to do but could not get access to a specific object. This required humbling myself and emailing the developer for help (another sigh…). It turned out that I had not kept my conversation with the character going long enough to elicit the response I needed. Had I been a bit more intuitive and persistent, I would have finished the game in under an hour which seems short for the price.
I give Andy Howard a lot of credit. Bayou Island is his first commercially-released game and he is a development studio of one. He wears the hats of artist, writer, designer, coder, publicist, etc. I believe this game shows that he has potential and it is a worthy entry into the market. My hope is that, for his next project, he will do some fine-tuning on his interface and expand the story into a longer and more complex adventure.
+ Solid classic point-and-click adventure for old-school gamers
+ Good first effort for a new developer
- Inventory controls are not optimal
- Very short game