Once, there was a young boy who lived happily with his grandfather and his dog. However, the boy is startled and awakened one night only to discover that some evil has taken over their home. Not only was his grandfather and dog nowhere to be seen, but monsters lurked everywhere. Fortunately, the protagonist is not an ordinary boy but 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 be challenging.
Bulb Boy is a rather unique game, not only because of the freakish protagonist and the monsters that terrorize his house. It is basically a point-and-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 apparent what items you need and where to use them.
Unlike most other point-and-click adventures, Bulb Boy 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 annoying as the game is relatively 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-and-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 uses a monochromatic color scheme for its 2D visuals, and the overall style leans heavily toward 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, shadows, and green and red visuals makes for a very unsettling experience. Even the animations are cool but slow the game’s pace quite a bit. We really like how Bulb Boy’s head illuminates his surroundings and even factors into a few puzzles.
Although most locations are creepy versions of a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom sewers, and greenhouse, they’re not all dark and twisted. In certain parts, Bulb Boy also has flashbacks to happy memories of being on a fishing trip with his grandfather or enjoying a picnic. These scenes provide a breather between all the doom and gloom, but they are short-lived. Most of the game takes place in disturbing places, and some of the unnerving background noises further amplify the feeling of unease. 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 uses weird babbling noises when characters talk. This fits the game style 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 examining or clicking on everything in sight.
Despite some annoying parts, Bulb Boy is a unique and interesting game. Sadly, it was also a very short game that only took us three hours to complete. This included using the scene select available after completing the game to return and get a few missable achievements. The scatological humor in Bulb Boy won’t appeal to everyone, and the creepy graphics will surely 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