I ended up checking out Boneville because it was mentioned on WWdN. I've never heard of Boneville before (Sorry :)) so I was coming as a fan of the old Lucasarts adventure/puzzle games and the other games of that genre, like Monkey Island and Beneath a Steel Sky, etc, and while the demo was kind of abruptly short I thought that it offered some interesting gameplay possibilities so I thought, hey for $20 let's give this thing a shot.
I think ultimately my money was well-spent, but there are certainly some ups and downs to Boneville. I just want to outline a few of them as I think of them. Please bear in mind these are just my opinions and of course other people will have different experiences I am sure.
I think the only time I was truly frustrated in a screaming-at-the-monitor-because-it's-so-stupid way was the hide and seek section where you play as Phoney Bone and have to tell the kids hot or cold. I am not sure if I just didn't "get" the interface to it or if there really wasn't one, but it didn't seem to matter whether I said hot or cold, the kids seemed to hop around in preprogrammed loops, moving in squares, up, right, down, left and then hopping twice in a randomly determined direction before completing a random number of "square loops" and then hopping in a random direction again.
This whole mini-game/interlude was really frustrating - the kids voices are cute but quickly become grating and their constant interjections, while realistic, just bog the whole experience down even more and cause the whole thing to take twice as long as it really needs to. That was a shame because the flip side of this mini-game with Fone Bone looking for the kids was one my favourite parts of the game, too cute and funny. I think the Phoney Bone part needed more granular responses linked to better AI, eg, really cold, cold, warm, warmer, hot and some kind of simple grid system for the AI, eg if you move west and it's cold then you move further west and it's colder then heyyy, maybe we should stop moving west and try the other direction! :D
I don't want to complain constantly here so let me say that the farmyard section of the chores with Fone Bone and Thorn and the Dragon was really cool and reminded me a lot of the puzzles in something like Flight of the Amazon Queen... looking around to combine items and using the environment to make things happen was really a cool part of the game and I personally wished there was more of this type of gameplay.
The scrolling chase sections were a mixed bag - I thought they were kind of cool and somehow necessary to move the narrative along, but I also thought they overstayed their welcome - I mean how many times do I have to prove that I can successfully time a diagonal jump over a boulder and a few fallen logs?
I thought the story was promising and the dialogue was good - I loved some of the options you could choose, it was all pretty funny and cool and I am sure more will be revealed in the next episode of the game.
I also realise that this game is in part aimed at kids and parents playing the game along with their kids, doing the difficult bits with them and letting the kids do the other bits and that's fine. I would really love to see the creative team behind this game do a "full on" proper adventure puzzler. I really miss that genre of gaming and I know I would pay more than $20 for a - and I hate to use the word - "hardcore" adventure puzzler.
At the end of the day, my overall impression is that Bone is a pretty cool little game with a couple of niggles, but I enjoyed the (Part of the) afternoon I spent playing it and I'll certainly look for more Boneville. :D