"While Bone: Out from Boneville lasts, it's an engaging and humorous experience that manages to entertain a wide spectrum of audiences. "
While Bone: Out from Boneville lasts, it's an engaging and humorous experience that manages to entertain a wide spectrum of audiences.
Based on the popular graphic novels of the same name, Bone follows the exploits of three very different cousins: the likeable and courteous Fone, the scheming and scrooge-like Phoney and the laid-back, banjo-wielding Smiley. Driven out of their hometown of Bonesville, the trio find themselves improbably stranded in a barren dessert with only each other and countless sand dunes for company.
The three conflicting personalities make for some oft-amusing bickering, as the three skulk around their sandy prison, presented to you, the player, in an appropriate point 'n' click adventure setting. The goal given to Telltale Games in this instance is obviously to recreate the popular novels, and here, the right genre is chosen to do this in. Even at the start, you are invited to explore your surroundings, as sparse as the are. [Look, young Fone, rocks and sand!] But even in this empty setting, a lot of the game traits are made clear to the player; like the books, the game is accessible to younger gamers, sporting cartoon-like 3D graphics that serve to highlight a well-crafted world with bright colours, bringing the comics to life. A vibrant world encases the cousins, as they argue amongst themselves over how they got stuck in this predicament, tight and believable voice acting depicting the characters perfectly. A lot of care has gone into crafting the video game adaptation of Bone, and it's appreciated here.
Manipulate the various conversation branches to find that despite the childish veneer lies something more accessible to an older audience. While Fone reminds Phoney why they are stuck in such an undesirable location and mediates between his more confrontational brethren and the chummy Smiley, it becomes clear that even an antiquated old fogey as myself will find something to enjoy.
Fone: "Smiley's music isn't that bad!"
Phoney: "Are you kidding? How can you stand it?! At least he's over his 'Old Grey Mare' stage."
Store that bit of information away; it can later be used as a bargaining tool.
Fone: "Hey, Smiley, play a song for us. How about the Old Grey Mare!"
Smiley: "My favourite!"
The tight and fitting voice acting aside, the lip-synching and expressions of the cast are magnificent. Smiley half-closes his eyes while plucking away on his banjo and croaking out his tune off-key while Phoney shakes his fist in anger before cupping his hands over his ears and hopping around the landscape as if in pain. When you're not being asked to advance proceedings via dialogue choices, you're invited to make use of the various items dotted around the place to solve puzzles in typical point 'n' click fashion.
However, these puzzles will never truly test you. Often simplistic in their nature, most of the time you don't even need to leave the screen they are housed within to find a solution to your troubles. Just in case they do prove a little too taxing for you, you can ask Bone to help you, providing anything from vague hints to outright solutions. It's a shame that the challenge of the game had to be neutered in order to keep the goofy personality already created intact, but finding the solutions is often a joy in itself. You'll have to guide Fone through a darkened cave, navigating by only a flickering torch and guided by discarded cigar butts droped by a littering Smiley, a humorous put-down being shared with each soggy butt retrieved, for instance. Scenes like this will crop up from time to time as a more adventuresome take on the genre-defining sleuthing is offered with action-like sequences. Guide Ted the Bug across the foot-stones of a stream to meet up with his big brother on the other side as to help Fone cross; play hide and seek with a trio of inquisitive possums, yelling out disinterested directions from a bored-looking Phoney.
And then finish the game before you even know you've started it.
Whereas most of Bone is done well, bringing the pages from Jeff Smith's much-loved novels to life, it is but the first chapter in a series that attempts to recreate the books in parts. The plan is to buy Out of Bonville then to move on to the next chapter when it is released. The downside to this is that Bone is a very short game, barely three hours long even if an interested gamer takes the time to explore all the amusing dialogue options present. As such, the experience is over before you even really know it's happening, giving you the sense that what you are playing is a stepping stone into something more grand. Rather than a full game, Out of Bonesville feels like a well-made teaser. It's to its credit that it still manages to entertain.
Guide Fone through the lairs of hungry rat-demons who bicker over how to cook your protagonist - nothing says fear quite like the prospect of being baked into a quiche. Have him engage in mostly one-sided conversations with the goatee-sporting Red Dragon, who offers up as little helps as possible in order to get back to his lounging. Consider helping Phoney infuriate Ted the Bug's older brother into helping him progress further into his unexplored environment or trick the possum triplets into doing his work for him. Watch as the three get seperated in a swarm of locus and help the trio reunite. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Because while Bone: Out From Boneville lasts, it's an engaging and humorous experience that manages to entertain a wide spectrum of audiences.
Community review by bside (September 08, 2006)
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