"The comic's appeal was widespread, and, to a point, so is the game. The younger audience will enjoy the goofy characters, the vibrant colours and cartoony graphics whilst older players will enjoy that everything is just a little bit more complex then it seems. Behind the childish presentation lays a strong collection of characters that are a joy to interact with. From the sleepy-eyed Red Dragoon who takes a minimalistic approach to helping the cousins on their way to the triplet of playful possums that bicker for Fone's attention and take an immediate dislike to Phoney, there's an energetic world to explore. But before you can get lost in it, it's over. "
Fone stands cowering, glaring up at the pair of salivating Rat Demons that have captured him. Seven feet of matted hair, claws and glowing red eyes, the creatures bicker amongst themselves about how they intend to eat their freshly-caught lunch. Should Fone try and step away, he's seized by the neck and told in no uncertain terms that the option of escape doesn't pertain to dinner. His limited inventory offers no help; the only uncertainty left is whether Fone will be boiled in a stew or baked into a nice, fluffy quiche.
Fone raises an eyebrow as his would-be devourers fight amongst themselves. With a little bit of help, the two will fall into a bitter war of words prompted by Fone's ability to pick up key phrases from the argument. "I don't think there's anything wrong with a monster liking quiche." "Are you going to let him call you fat? You don't look fat to me." "You shouldn't let him push you around like that! You're just as scary as he is!" The pair will ignore their lunch to exchange harsh words or pleading apologies, giving Fone the chance to sneak his way off the menu. As long as he times his run to coincide with both beasties averting their gaze from him, escape is assured!
What Bone: Out from Boneville does best is combine a traditional point-and-click interface with an adventuresome smattering of action-themed sequences. To escape the rat creatures above, Fone has to manipulate various conversation branches to divert attention from his escape. Later in the game, he has to run for his life while being chased by a pack of the same monsters, his dash controlled by sliding the mouse in the direction you wish him to run, clicking the button to have him leap over obstacles like rocks and tree stumps when you can't weave out of their way.
It's the second foot race you'll take part in; the first comes shortly after the start of your adventure. Based on the popular Bone graphic novels penned by Jeff Smith, the game starts out with the exile of the three Bone cousins from their hometown of Boneville, thanks to a shady deal gone awry from the scrooge-like Phoney. The other two cousins are compromised of Smiley, a laid-back cigar-chomping slacker wielding a banjo and an off-key singing voice, and the softly-spoken Fone, who will serve as your lead protagonist for much of the game. With three such contrasting personalities, bickering is assured. Smiley will taunt Phoney on his fall from grace, blaming him for their current predicament -- that of being lost in an unknown desert -- leaving mild-mannered Fone to mediate. Their ruckus attracts an angry swarm of locust, who attack!
Running from these pests will separate the trio, leaving Fone all alone in a dank, dark cave, having to navigate his way around by the flickering flames of a burning torch and following a trail of Smiley's discarded cigar butts. Telltale Games manages to do a lot with this title, successfully bringing the comic to life on your PC monitors and [for the most part] following the pre-set plotline faithfully. Even in the depressing location of the cave, Out from Boneville's world is captured in a cartoon-ish 3D look that mirrors the artwork of the books. Further kudos needs to be given to the extremely well woven voice acting that matches up seamlessly with lip-synching and character model reactions. Phoney's uni-brow knots in anger as it's suggested that he parts with what little cash he has left; Smiley beams innocently as he seats himself upon a rock, strumming away at his banjo and Fone conveys surprise while exchanging words with Ted, the talking bug who insists he's not a leaf.
The comic's appeal was widespread, and, to a point, so is the game's. The younger audience will enjoy the goofy characters, the vibrant colours and cartoony graphics whilst older players will enjoy that everything is just a little bit more complex then it seems. Behind the childish presentation lays a strong collection of characters that are a joy to interact with. From the sleepy-eyed Red Dragoon who takes a minimalistic approach to helping the cousins on their way to the triplet of playful possums that bicker for Fone's attention and take an immediate dislike to Phoney, there's an energetic world to explore.
But before you can get lost in it, it's over.
Bone boasts a lifespan of a little under three hours; something that isn't helped by the ease of the game's puzzles. Although it's understandable that Out from Bonesville needs to appeal to a younger audience, you'd expect more from a company that had a hand in genre classics like Sam & Max, Grim Fandango and Monkey Island. Even players new to point-and-click genre will find no need to sit and think through any of the puzzles presented to them, and, even if they did, Bone employs a help system that can give you anything between vague half-hints to straight-out answers on what to do next.
Even if this wasn't the case, it's a short game, less of a full entry and more of a stepping stone into the next release. Telltale have decided to serialise the Bone games, mimicking the seven chapters of the comic written by Smith. Just as you start to bed yourself into the setting, just as the strong personality this game flaunts starts to envelop you and make you forget about the ease in which you've ploughed through proceedings ... it ends.
Out from Boneville is a solid foundation for the next game, The Great Cow Race to build upon. If the length issue is resolved, and perhaps the challenge dialled up a notch, Telltale will have succeeded in bringing a popular graphic novel to life.
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