Once there was a young boy who lived happily with his grandfather and his dog. However, the boy is startled awake one night only to discover that some type of evil has taken over their home. Not only is his grandfather and dog nowhere to be seen, but there are also monsters lurking everywhere. Fortunately, the protagonist is not an ordinary boy, but instead has a large bulb for a head. This comes in extra handy as he can unscrew his head and roll it around or even attach it to other critters, such as fish and spiders. Even so, his journey to find his dog, which is actually a flying mothdog, and his grandfather, who has a lamp for a head, will not be easy.
Bulb Boy is a rather unique game and not only because of the freakish protagonist and the monsters that terrorize his house. It is basically a point & click adventure, but one where death lurks around every corner. The classic Gobliiins was clearly an inspiration for Bulb Boy as it features the same style of single-screen puzzle solving. Everything Bulb Boy needs to make progress is typically in his immediate vicinity, so backtracking is pretty much eliminated. His inventory is also purposefully kept limited, so it is usually obvious what items you need to use and where to use them.
Unlike most other point and click adventures Bulb Boy also has some frustrating trial and error sections. Death can come swiftly, but luckily the game frequently saves and the nearest checkpoint is usually very close to where Bulb Boy can get killed. Nevertheless, it can still get a little annoying as the game is rather slow-paced and having to repeat these types of sections feels a little out of place in a game of this type. Bulb Boy even features what can only be described as boss battles, which is definitely unusual for a point & click adventure as are the spots where perfect timing is required to progress. The actual puzzles themselves are never too challenging and the game even has a built-in hint system to help players who get stuck.
Bulb Boy makes use of a monochromatic color scheme for its 2D visuals and the overall style leans heavily to the gory and gross. In addition to the disturbing monster designs, the game is also filled with poop.
There’s even one scene where players have to cover Bulb Boy in poop to sneak past enemies and another where not going to the toilet can literally kill him. Along with a monster made entirely out of poop, the most disturbing enemy in the game is a giant plucked, headless chicken that stomps about with swaying guts hanging out and all. The use of light and shadows, along with the green and red visuals, makes for a very unsettling experience. Even the animations are pretty cool but tend to slow down the pace of the game quite a bit. We really like how Bulb Boy’s head illuminates his surroundings and it, even factors into a few puzzles.
Although most of the locations are creepy versions of a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom sewers, and greenhouse it’s not all dark and twisted. In certain parts Bulb Boy also has flashbacks to happy memories where he was on a fishing trip with his grandfather or enjoying a picnic. These scenes provide a bit of a breather between all the doom and gloom, but they are rather short-lived. The majority of the game takes place in very disturbing looking places and the feeling of unease is further amplified by some of the unnerving background noises. Even the music features some intentionally discordant sounding parts that increase the anxiety.
Bulb Boy is certainly not a frightening game, despite a few attempts at jump scares, but there is just this overall feeling of “wrongness” that pervades it. Instead of actual speech, the game makes use of weird babbling noises when characters talk. This fits the style of the game much better and it is still clear to see what they mean from the pictures shown in their speech bubbles. The controls have also been intentionally simple as one click is used for everything from walking to picking up stuff. Your inventory is accessed from the top of the screen and solving puzzles is usually a matter of selecting an item and then clicking where you want to use it. Only items that can be used or interacted with are highlighted when you move your cursor over them, so there is no time wasted on examining or clicking on everything in sight.
Despite some of the annoying parts, Bulb Boy is a unique and interesting game. Sadly, it is also a very short game and it only took us three hours to complete. This included using the scene select that is available after completing the game to go back and get a few of the missable achievements. The scatological humor in Bulb Boy won’t appeal to everyone and the creepy graphics is sure to deter a few players as well. However, players who can look past this or even appreciate it will find Bulb Boy to be a disturbingly entertaining little game.
- OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10
- Processor: Intel i3
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: Intel HD 4000
- OS: Mac OS X 10.6.3 “Snow Leopard” 2.4 GHz
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 320M 256 MB of DDR3 SDRAM