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Bonbon (PC) artwork

Bonbon (PC) review


"Year Half-hour of the Rat"


Bonbon (PC) image

In everyday life, the word "bonbon" typically refers to a type of candy or a chocolate-covered ball of ice cream. In the video game Bonbon, however, it's the name of a massive, gluttonous, white rat that serves as the story's antagonist. Unlike the aforementioned snack, Bonbon is not sweet. For the most part, he stares blankly into space with horrid red eyes, looking somewhat annoyed about existing. He often appears out of nowhere, remaining stationary and watching you as if he's planning something sinister. He is, of course...

You, on the other hand, are a toddler. You don't use any special abilities, and your only talent consists of picking up toys and gibbering at them (seriously, you do this in-game). Your role in this tale is clear, though. You take the part of the vulnerable, helpless character who has to struggle against a more-than-capable villainous force who doesn't at all have your best interest in mind. Never mind that you can actually be kind to Bonbon by greeting him when he appears or offering him some of your birthday cake. He is every bit the terror he appears to be.

This title skillfully instills a sense of foreboding. Your sole enemy here appears creepy and gives off unsettling vibes, but seems just benevolent or neutral enough that you question your own appraisal of him. "What if Bonbon is just an innocent creature, and I'm only terrified of him because of his size and apparent ugliness?" you might ask yourself, as I did. But a shred of doubt lingers in the background of your mind, and you just know that the rodent will eventually turn on you and feast...

Bonbon (PC) image

Sadly, the first two levels somewhat hamper this sense of fear with a couple of contrived tasks you need to perform. Stage one gives you a quick breakdown of the mechanics, comprised mostly of picking up objects, throwing them or talking to them. Some of the items you find possess some cute, childish names, like a massive caterpillar-shaped crawling tunnel named "Big Mouth." However, after a quick intro, your mother asks you to gather up four balls from your yard and throw them through the door. You thus toddle through the nicely cut grass to locate some inflatable balls with faces on them, all before Bonbon arrives to ominously drop one of them and stare at you...

The second level offers more or less the same challenge, except with more types of toys to secure and drop into a cardboard box. Thankfully, these tasks don't last very long, otherwise they'd become incredibly tedious. At worst they're nothing but filler here, taking the place of more substantial, less chore-like content.

The fear factor beefs up for the final two phases, where Bonbon really begins to show his teeth. One exchange reveals his true nature, just before your mother whisks off to bed. Here, you awaken in your dark room full of toys. A star globe serves as your only light source, playing beams of light all over the shadowy walls. As you mosey about the place, reality itself seems to come unhinged, with your little toy figurines practically multiplying. They now litter the area and fly hypnotically through the air as you trounce them. Then, the very shape of your room alters in a Silent Hill-ish sort of way, ushering you into hallways and illogically placed alcoves shrouded in absolute darkness. The lighting (or lack thereof) and presence of grime give this surreal segment a disturbing touch you can feel down to your bones. You know you shouldn't stumble into the darkness, especially considering your size and inability to do more than waddle. You shouldn't, but you must because the game demands it. But you know what's eventually coming...

Bonbon (PC) image

A couple of good scares later, you're doing a somewhat frightening QTE while certain death stares you down. However, you feel somewhat divorced from the sense of danger because you can only move in a prescribed pathway, performing only the actions the game allows. You still feel somewhat tense because you don't know how everything will turn out, and then poof. It just ends.

Bonbon fizzles out with a suggestive conclusion and some "read between the lines" kind of material. Was the beast a figment of your imagination, or was it a stand-in for something more realistic and potentially worse? It's cool that the game gets you thinking, even if it concludes with an anticlimax. However, you can't shake the sensation that this game needed a bit more flesh. No, I don't mean a longer play time; short horror stories are not exactly a new concept, and aren't exclusive to film, television, literature and campfires. However, it'd be great if Bonbon took full advantage of its fleeting presence with more meaningful tasks and a more memorable conclusion. Still, the game nails some concepts regarding childhood fears, and that's laudable.

3/5

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (January 06, 2021)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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