Horror Games: Bulb Boy

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After recently finishing a Let’s Play of Bulb Boy, I was left with a strange feeling about this game. It was definitely an interesting game that will leave a lasting impression in my mind for years to come due primarily to its unsettling nature and bizarre imagery. It was also addictive as well. For Horror fans, this game should definitely be on your wish list.

About: Bulb Boy is a point-and-click adventure game with puzzles as it’s primary focus in terms of gameplay. Created by Bulbware, it got its start off of Greenlight on Steam. Reviews of the game are Very Positive since its release prior to Halloween. The game centers around Bulb Boy, a protagonist who has the unusual ability to remove and light up his own head. When his family is attacked by strange monsters one night, Bulb Boy goes on an adventure to save his family members which consist of the family dog and his Grandpa. Using exploration and only bubble speech clues, the player controls Bulb Boy as he interacts with the environment and figures out how to advance through the house.

Warning! Spoilers Ahead! And poop…

The Plot/Characters: As mentioned above, the plot centers around Bulb Boy attempting to rescue his family members who have been attacked by monsters. The story starts out, however, with Bulb Boy and the others sitting in the living room. Right away you’re introduced to the bizarre nature of the game when the Grandpa falls asleep and you control Bulb Boy to turn off the TV and remove Grandpa’s dentures… And place them in the fish bowl. That’s calm in comparison to the rest of the story as your first puzzle involves finding bugs to feed to a spider blocking your path, which causes it to explode from over eating. Each disturbing boss battle that you complete, like roasting a giant headless chicken in your kitchen, ends with a bright cheery flashback to happier times, fortunately. It serves to  break up some of the creepy factor and give the player a sense of relief. I was left making disgusted faces quite often, particularly in the bathroom scene. I will still have nightmares from that.

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Getting into the characters a bit; Bulb Boy is a cheerful little guy. He likes to chuckle after bizarre and strange things happen, or laugh loudly at a joke. Despite all the darkness surrounding him, he stays optimistic. Sometimes things freak him out but typically only when a family member accidentally perishes in a playthrough. Grandpa is senile and a bit clueless. He’s slow to move and gets agitated at the family dog when he does something wrong. Grandpa likes to laugh when Bulb Boy does something to amuse him. The family dog? Loyal, of course! The fact that it can fly also helps to make sure that the dog can help out the family when needed whether it’s carting Bulb Boy around or finding bait for a fishing line. But all of this you learn from bubble speech. Which is interesting that you can really get a sense for them very quickly despite them never saying many actual words!

Gameplay: Point-and-click is pretty straight forward. Your character can collect items and use them on objects to get different results and to solve a puzzle to progress. Bulb Boy takes this mechanic and adds a little bit of its own personality to it, however. Your still doing puzzles, of course, but sometimes there is a huge leap of logic to come to the solution that solves the puzzle. Meaning, at least for me, you can be left scratching your head as to how that worked while Bulb Boy stands and laughs as though he were sure of himself the entire time. And, most of the time, it involves using your head. Quite literally! Bulb Boy comes with some unique talents, as I mentioned; including the ability to attach his head to other bodies and control them as well as use his tongue to press things.

If you reach a game over, it usually involves Bulb Boy’s head being smashed into pieces or him being eaten until there is nothing left but bones. And… Often, you don’t know for sure how something will kill you or if it is going to.

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Graphics: Bulb Boy is a mixture of “cute” and nightmare fuel all in one in terms of style and graphics. It’s hard to explain, but most of the time Bulb Boy’s disturbing imagery is enough to send goosebumps down your arms and give you a chill. From giant strawberry monsters to Bulb Boy actually pooping a monster, it came from the mind of some super creative people for sure… The graphics themselves are simplistic as well which help to keep it from being too much for most people. Everything is 2-D in style, seen from the side as you explore. During present time, everything is bathed in a dark green light or red when you perish. Flashbacks are happier and are bathed in a bright sunny light. The dark tones add to the horror element, as often times it’s difficult to see enemies around the corner.

The Score: There isn’t a heavy emphasis on music in this game, but there is definitely a soundtrack used that adds a layer of atmosphere. The music will be full of dread during the exploration, happy and cheerful during flashbacks.

Overall: Bulb Boy has a charm about it that is hard to place. Despite the unsettling feeling I received from playing, the breakups with the flashbacks and Bulb Boy’s cheerful demeanor despite everything else made me want to keep coming back to the game. The puzzles are a challenge and often take a leap of logic which means that you spend a good amount of time thoroughly exploring before progressing. The only downside to this game for me was the final boss being extremely difficult and the gameplay itself being very short. Still, I would recommend it for anyone that is a fan of horror and that is a bit desensitized.

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Have you played Bulb Boy? If so, what did you think? If not, is this game on your wish list?