What I liked:
The art. I felt that it really captured the style of the comic, and the similarity is especially striking for those familiar with the colorized version because the game uses the same color palette most of the time (check out that mountain background in the desert!) . Even better than the environments though are character models. With the possible exception of Thorn I thought all the models looked like stunning 3D realizations of the character, particularly Gran'ma Ben who looks about as faithful as you can get.
The interface. A lot of people would consider point 'n click to be a step backwards and in some cases it is, but with this game it felt really smooth and it worked great. Simple and effective. The one-click-does-everything route similar to The Dig works well.
The puzzles. Though it felt like there weren't enough of them, I thought all of the puzzles were great, not only because they were fun but because when I solved them I always felt like I was moving the story along rather than, you know, just trying to get to the next part of the game. I guess one of the good effects of knowing you're going to make a short game is being able to make sure all of the stuff the player does is relevant to the story. And while I would have enjoyed some more inventory puzzles, I must say my favorite puzzle was the one where you escape from the rat creatures. "Active puzzles,"
indeed. I felt like I was playing a cutscene. Speaking of which...
The non-interactive bits. Because there were so few of them
, and they were all short and in-game, and did only what they were supposed to. I think Telltale did a fantastic job of making much of the comic's story interactive and making you feel like you're involved in it instead of simply solving puzzles and letting a cutscene handle the narrative. I felt there was also a disappointing side-effect to this as well which I'll get into further down.
The voice acting. The voices were all at least adequate, but some (the red dragon and ted the bug spring to mind) were spot-on. My two main quibbles were Gran'ma Ben (which has to do simply with her not being what I imagined more than anything) and Thorn, who's actual voice I didn't mind but the delivery was completely expressionless.
The music. I don't know what else to say except that the songs were completely appropriate (both to the particular scene and the overall "feel" of Bone, giving the game nice atmosphere) and I really liked them. I hope the same composer is used for the rest of the games. One thing I think would be cool to do with future games (if it can be done without bloating the file size too much) is implement an iMUSE type of sound system where the music reacts to the player. Psychonauts, a non-LucasArts game, pulled off something similar.
The multiple-person dialog trees. Excellent idea, and I think for the most part it works very well.
The in-game help system. Excellent idea. And I love the way it works like the old LucasArts hint booklets where the hint gets progressively more specific before finally just giving you the answer.
And what I think the best individual aspect of the game is: the animation. Very expressive and just plain fun to watch. There's a lot life brought to these characters and all the little animations for their reactions, whether it's Fone expressing his confusion at Ted's complicated directions or the possums shock at an exciting story, are great. I hope that level of quality can be kept up!
What I didn't like:
The emptiness. Perhaps this is partly intentional for keeping the game simple and helping to keep people who are new to the adventure genre free of frustration, but there simply wasn't enough to do off the beaten track. It's not so much that I object to the game's linear nature (which I know was intentional) or that I want ridiculous red herrings everywhere, but more interactivity with the environment and overall more depth would go a long way in making the world seem more alive and worth coming back to. I mean, there were a few nice extra bits here and there that I appreciated, but just...more
. It'll be interesting to see how Telltale tackles this challenge in the future while still keeping with its policy to make the games straightforward and easy to get into. I think it can be done.
The lopping off of several story bits from the comic. This is especially evident near the end of the game, where the later parts of the comic's story get compressed and rushed. Some of this was handled well and creatively and I'm sure was done because of time and budget constraints (we can learn about the cow race, the fair, and see Phoney's betting interest all in the dinner scene, which allows a few scenes from the comic to be lost). But with other cuts I'm a little bit upset about. I mean, what happened to the scenes with The Hooded One? Phoney's trip to Barrehaven, his meetup with Smiley there, and the introduction of Lucius? Maybe it was to prevent needlessly padding the game, maybe Telltale preferred cutting scenes that they didn't think they could turn into good interactive bits instead of giving us long cutscenes, or maybe they're trying to save Lucius and the Phoney/Smiley scheme entirely for part two. And maybe the game's rapid fire conclusion is less jarring if you're not familiar with the comic. But it was sort of a problem for me, so I had to point it out.
And uh, yeah, Thorn. She could use some expression in her voice, rather than it sounding like an actress reading lines.
OK, that's enough writing for one post. I was impressed by Out From Boneville, and I can't wait for The Great Cow Race next Spring. This game confirms to me that you guys know what you're doing, and I'm ready for more!