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Bolt Riley - A Reggae Adventure

Bolt Riley - A Reggae Adventure


Developer: Corbomite Games The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2016.04.20
Genre: Historical / Comedy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click









"Reggae OK." There aren't necessarily too many people who get that. For those who are dying to know what it means, it was a Eurovision Song Contest entry song that was inspired by reggae music. It didn't do too well, having a placement among the least successful entries. A point-and-click game inpired by reggae music then, is it going to be a more successful thing?

Bolt Riley is a game that combines many things together. It has point-and-click adventuring and reggae music, which are things that the creator Oded Sharon likes. It is supposed to have some real-life story behind it, as Bolt Riley is supposed to follow the same route that Bob Marley did. The game is partially designed by Corey Cole and Lori Cole, the famous creators of Quest for Glory games. And the game has been crowdfunded on Kickstarter, so there is a fan base of sorts that wanted to see the game done.

Bolt Riley and the gang.Bolt Riley and the gang.
The game opens with an integrated tutorial where the player needs to find drumsticks for the drummer, who is too stoned from "the herb" to find them himself. The game release date being a date that can be written as 4.20 is no coincidence. After the game actually begins, the first thing to do is to steal someone's radio for the gang leader. So it's clear what kind of context the story is moving in. Or would be, if there actually was a story. The problem is that presently this is only the first chapter of the planned three chapter long story. According to the Kickstarter description the game "has a self sustained story that should last a few hours of gameplay", but as there are only three locations, about 10 puzzles, and the story never comes to even a most basic kind of conclusion, that seems exaggerated. Apparently the parts that the Coles designed are not even in this chapter. The way things are looking by the time of writing, the game will never be finished completely, and this may be the final form of the game. If that is ever going to change, this review will be updated accordingly.

But if the content is super good, it doesn't matter how long or short it is, as it keeps the player hooked for its duration. Sadly, this is not at all the case with Bolt Riley. It feels incomplete in every possible way. There are big problems with graphics quality, while the protagonist is well done, some other characters seem to be scaled up from lower resolution and do not fit in. Voiceovers are mostly bad, with one character sounding as if the recording has been done in a metallic barrel, and often the spoken words do not match at all the subtitles. There is no good balance in the puzzles, some are too obvious, some are very hard to figure out, and some are annoying, for instance, going through all dialogues with one character involves watching a door opening animation over and over again.

Getting inpiration.Getting inpiration.
It would not be right to say that the game doesn't have any good qualities to it, there are some. For instance, there is a unique kind of inspiration function that allows the protagonist to draw inspiration from some things around him, or inspire people around him. Given the small scope of the game, this feature really doesn't reach its full potential, but it's an interesting and innovative take on adventure game functionality. Background graphics are also very nice, and create the kind of feeling that the developer presumably is trying to reach. All music in the game should be specifically composed for it, but there's not much room for it in the currently existing form of the game, chapter 1, probably that would be more prevalent in the later chapters when the story progresses.

Whether Bolt Riley is a good game or not, is almost impossible to say based on what it is now, it feels like an unpolished demo version. If the first chapter is properly showcasing what the entire game is like, it can be said that there are some amusing elements to it, but it's not a super funny comedy. If the graphics are of the same quality as the background art and protagonist character, it's mostly nice to look at. Whether the audio is good or not is debatable, and depends on whether the player thinks reggae is OK, or not. Those who like narrator voiceovers are happy to find out that there is a narrator in the game, those who dislike such things are disappointed to find out that it can't be turned off.

While at this stage it seems extremely unlikely that the game will ever be completed, based on the developer's statement, one can only hope that it will be. While reggae certainly isn't everyone's favourite thing, at least the subject matter is unique in the adventure genre, and should be explored further, if for no other reason than because it has not been done before. Also, it would be interesting to see how the inspiration functionality would reach its potential in a longer story arc. For now, we can't deduce whether reggae is OK in adventure games, there's not enough substance to draw conclusions either way.

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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