When I first watched the trailer for Bulbware’s Bulb Boy, my initial thoughts were that I was in for another game in the vein of Binding of Isaac. There’s a weird mix of horrific imagery mixed with the childlike delight with which the main character giggles and frolics. Certainly, it has a lot of the same aesthetic bent, but tosses aside the high-paced action of BoI for a clever, quirky point-and-click adventure style narrative.

Living the life

Living the life

The set-up is simple enough. The bulb boy, who I’ll just call Bulbie, lives in a bulb house with a gas lantern for a…father? Grandpa? An adorable flying mutt completes the not-so-nuclear family. Speaking of nuclear, an eerie green glow persists through pretty much the entirety of the game. It’s a bit off-putting at first and worth a quick mention. After watching some TV, Bulbie decides to head to bed. As he slumbers, an otherworldly presence stops by the house and does some redecorating, creating a ghastly manor of disgusting monsters.

Bulbie must navigate his way through the terrors of his own home, to save his family and eventually cast out the evil presence. In true adventure game style, this is largely done by clearing puzzle rooms where the solution is to poke around at various objects and eventually find the ones that work to unlock the way into the next area. None of the puzzles are particularly involved or complicated but if players do get stuck a quick “Hint” option is available in the pause menu.

Bulbie and his dog...somewhat reunited.

Bulbie and his dog…somewhat reunited.

The entire game can be completed in a single sitting, only lasting about 2-3 hours, ensuring that no section really lasts longer than it needs to. Though there is no real combat in the game, there are a few sections that contain boss “fights” in the sense that a monster stands in Bulbie’s way and must be dealt with to proceed. Some rooms do have hazards which can kill the fragile glass child, but checkpoints are frequent, so it’s never too much of a setback.

As I mentioned above, there’s an innocence to Bulbie’s character that seems out of place with the horror surrounding him, and that’s one of the major charms of the game. Watching him cower to giant spiders, then later casually toss it worms and roaches to eat is both creepy and amusing. There are some absurdly grotesque monsters in the house as well, including many gross creations based on filth and poop. Even Bulbie himself can do some pretty weird things such as removing his own head and tossing it around to get to areas his body can’t reach.

Or enter a body...

Or enter a body…

Originally a PC game on Steam, the Switch port doesn’t have many issues when it comes to controls. Though a point-and-click adventure, the Switch version does not support touching objects to interact with them. The only real issue that I discovered was towards the end when both sticks are needed to control both Bulbie and the dog simultaneously. The right stick is unused until this point and there’s no mention of the sudden change.

Once the campaign is done, there’s very little incentive to return, but the price of admission isn’t bad at all. Fans of grotesque comedy will surely find something they can enjoy, even if it’s just for the want of a new, quirky game from the Switch’s small library.

KAIJU VERDICT

2/4 Pops: Decent  There might be problems that mount up and prevent it from being a top tier game, or it might not do enough to quite make it stand out, but a 2 can still be an enjoyable experience that the curious should try.

Review based on a digital copy of the game played on the Nintendo Switch.

Review code supplied by the developer.

About The Author