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Bone 1 - Out from Boneville


Release date: 2005
Developer/publisher: Telltale Games
Game language: English


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A review by   André   24th April 2006
(translated by MaryScots)

 

If you happen to be acquainted with a collector of comics you will probably lean back and give a bored yawn when reading or hearing about ‘new’ titles like ‘V for Vendetta’ or ‘Sin City’. For many years now, I also know ‘Bone’ by Jeff Smith as said collector owns all issues of the Bone series and has decorated his quarters with several large-sized and carefully framed posters you won’t be able to ignore on a visit. I was always fond of the little lad with the tall girlfriend even though – not being a comic reader myself - I have never bothered to look deeper into the matter. Something, which will fortunately change due to the release of the first episode of the Bone adventure games.

 

Installation

There are two ways to get hold of the Bone adventures. For one, you can order the game on an ordinary CD packed in a DVD-box. The second possibility is downloading it for a fee from the developer’s website. The latter offering certain advantages but also disadvantages. The advantage being that the game, which is not available in Germany (or anywhere else outside the USA for that matter) doesn’t have to be shipped and - in a worst case scenario – won’t have to be cleared at some obscure customs office. You also can save the money for expensive shipping costs. And the game is at your disposal as soon as the download is finished, which is another plus.

Then again, you don’t have anything in your hands, really – no original CD, no manual and no box, which is certainly not acceptable for collectors and a reason to forgo a download offer. Another disadvantage would be that you might save the game on a blank CD of dubious quality. Will the game still run, say, after three years have passed and the sensitive data carrier might have been exposed to the sun?

In the end, everyone has to decide for themselves but for the reasons stated I do hope that downloading won’t get as successful a method of purchase as to succeed in becoming the only method. On the other hand, optionally offering adventure games for download as well as on CD or DVD sometimes is rather convenient (as is the case here).

 

Plot/Action/Puzzles

Enough prologue, let’s turn to the plot: together with his cousins Smiley and Phoney Bone is stranded in the desert. The group has lost its way hopelessly. Already we can chat a little and deliberate on what could be done. Some small initial puzzles must be solved and at the same time - in case we chose the tutorial mode – we will become acquainted with the controls. Having done this the first of two small action sequences will begin, in which we will have to run away from a few insects. These quests are not very challenging really and should not be intractable even to untrained players. The second of those sequences can even be skipped if you want to! After having escaped the insects Bone sadly has also lost his cousins Phoney and Smiley. All in all, the game is subdivided into numerous small places and sections and our main goal is retrieving our cousins and returning to Boneville.

While searching we also play Phoney in the first part, at least one of Bone’s two cousins and with him we meet the same characters, Bone has met shortly before on his journey. It’s funny to observe how different Phoney, who is choleric and always bad-tempered, reacts compared to easy-going Bone. You will always have to fulfil small tasks. For example, there is a small and really simple maze or we have to play a game of hide and seek. However, the puzzles are designed originally, like when we incapacitate an insect – a talking leaf. You won’t discover any real brain-wreckers and all puzzles are rather clear-cut and solved quickly. Oftentimes, you can only proceed if you have exhausted conversations. In this case, you have to find the proper dialogue-string in a non-linear conversation in order to push the plot forward. On top of this, we can switch dialogue partners while talking. All this enhances the great variety of the conversations and the staging of the funny dialogues is one of the game’s biggest highlights.

We meet friends like the big red Dragon, come across our enemies, the Rat Creatures, and many other weird and funny characters such as the simply super-super-super-cute Possum Kids etc. until we finally arrive at a farm where we meet the love of our life! I don’t want to give away any more, really, for Bone 1 is not such a long game. Only that the game ends at this point very abruptly and by now it becomes clear that this is only an open-ended first episode of a game. Those who buy the first part should know that they will have no chance to avoid the following instalments. This might better have been made clearer from the start!

 

Graphics – Some like it cute!

I admit that I had to get used to the graphics-style initially, which at first glance (but at first glance only) seemed perhaps a little too clear in layout and poor in detail. In the beginning, the game takes its time to show its better part because you don’t see much – the three cousins, some rocks in the desert and that’s about it. It soon becomes obvious, though, that the clear layout fits the graphics’ style and is kept like this consistently and continuously throughout the game. Again the devil is in the details as sometimes the game’s graphics come out much more elaborate, e.g. with movements such as Bone running or sliding down a slope or with close-up’s of Bone’s cute and multi-faceted facial expressions and also that of his dialogue partners like the Possum Kids. Here it shows how lovingly the game has been designed and how much effort has been put into detail. The dialogues are interspersed with changes of perspective and just like it would be in a perfect comic movie the camera switches between dialogue partners. So I quickly have to revise my initial opinion and am thoroughly enthusiastic about the graphical presentation after a short time of playing.

 

Handling

If I don’t have to tell much about the handling of a game it’s always an unmistakable sign that it has been designed simple and convenient and doesn’t give any cause for complaint. The usual point & click control is felicitous with the cursor transforming into few different icons depending on the kind of hotspot you choose. The little pictures are spot-on: feet are for walking, eyes for looking and there are two or three more functions. In addition, you can choose from two more options by clicking the right mouse-button. With that an item can be examined but also used. The usual procedure, you see. Those who didn’t get it by now can learn it during said tutorial, which is offered optionally before the start of the game. Then, each time we activate a new function a short explanation appears. Nice, isn’t it?

There is one icon at the bottom left of the screen to open the inventory and on the right there are two more, one for access to the menu and one for hints.

That’s almost all. Perhaps, I should mention briefly that the clearly laid-out menu offers all the important options and that it is possible to separately adjust the levels of music, speech and sound effects, activate subtitles or skip dialogues by pressing the space bar. Ten save slots are provided, which should be sufficient for this not too complex game and I don’t think that a good comic-adventure needs anything else, really.

 

Sound

If you don’t understand the speech correctly the reason might be that you don’t speak any English. Knowledge of this language does make it easier – at least to a considerable degree – to complete the game smoothly and successfully. Apart from the voice-acting being articulate it also fits the characters extraordinarily well – above all others Bone’s distinctive voice. Vocabulary more or less uses school English so there shouldn’t be too many problems.

Only thing I don’t know what to write about is the music as I honestly didn’t really notice it until the end. This doesn’t mean that it is bad, monotonous or even unsuitable. It’s rather playing in the background, it’s calm, emphasises and supports the game in a subtle way.

 

Summary

Alright, what can I say – the game has convinced me completely – now I’m a Bone fan, too! It’s obvious that the people at Telltale have put their heart and soul into the project. From backgrounds via facial animation to character animation there is no better way to design the graphics – just like one could possibly have imagined the computer-animated models of Bone and all the others. The dialogues are funny and inventive, the voice-overs perfect. The puzzles are basically very easy but nevertheless originally designed and the subject matter as well as the phrasing is suitable for both children and adult gamers. Due to the easy tasks the latter might probably rather enjoy the wonderful story and the fantastic graphics and puzzle a little bit while doing so. One last thing worth mentioning would be that the price of the game has been lowered considerably and so one can now also say that the cost/performance ratio is very reasonable. By the time this review is getting published the second episode will already be available and I can hardly wait to play it. The first quickie-highlight of the year!

 

Total rating: 81%

Adventure-Archiv rating system:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommendable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommendable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for hardcore-adventure-freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)

 

Minimal system requirements:

  • Windows 2000/XP
  • P3 800 1,5 Ghz
  • 140 MB on hard disk
  • 3D-video card
  • DirectX 8.1

Played on:

  • WIN XP
  • AMD Athlon XP 1800
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Graphic card Radeon 9200 Series
  • DVD-drive
  • Hard disk 60 GB

Click to magnify


The labyrinth is dark but easy to master
The labyrinth is dark but easy to master

 

Ho-hop! No need for skillfulness while jumping!
Ho-hop! No need for skillfulness while jumping!

 

 

The graphics - sometimes simple, sometimes more detailed, but beautiful.
The graphics - sometimes simple, sometimes more detailed, but beautiful.

 

 

Talking to the big leaf
Talking to the big leaf

 

Our friend - the big, red dragon
Our friend - the big, red dragon

 

 

Has he seen our cousins?
Has he seen our cousins?

 

 

The possum kids
The possum kids

 

 

Bone in love ...
Bone in love ...

 

 

... with beautiful Thorn!
... with beautiful Thorn!

 

 

Thorn in close-up (energetic)
Thorn in close-up (energetic)

 

 

At grandma Thorn
At grandma Thorn

 

 

 

 



 

 

Copyright © André for Adventure-Archiv, 24th April 2006

 

 

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