Breaking Bluebones’ Curse

Review of Bluebones Curse on XBLIG: Try
A short and sweet pirate-themed platformer with puzzle elements.

Bluebones’ Curse is a stylistic platformer with a few puzzle elements.  The polished art, music, and voice-overs effectively mix pirate and Halloween themes, but I found the game itself too easy and short.  (I know, I know. After complaining about the difficulty in my last platformer review, this criticism suggests I’m just impossible to please.)

The story follows the quest of the eponymous pirate Bluebones, who’s been turned into a skeleton by a witch and must find Davy Jones’ gold to break the curse.  The problem is, Davy Jones’ gold only appears once every hundred years on Halloween, and it’s nearly midnight on said occasion. The art conveys the setting and themes well, and the animation is smooth.  The music oozes the stereotypical piratey feel.  All of Bluebones’ lines—both in brief cutscenes and the random one-liners he yells when he dies—are voiced in a pirate accent, which is a nice touch.

The gameplay is solid.  Bluebones can run and jump to dodge enemies or pull levers to complete puzzles.  Control is very tight, and hit detection is accurate.  In fact, it’s a bit too forgiving at times.  For example, later levels featured flame walls that appear and disappear. Just before they finish disappearing—the point at which most other platformers would fry me—I was able to pass through unscathed.  After discovering just how forgiving the game is, the tension and sense of impending danger dissipated.

The level design is similarly forgiving.  The combinations of spikes, spiders, and flames never felt like a gauntlet that I needed to escape by the skin of my teeth.  Rather, each level felt like a series of discrete, straightforward challenges.  Between each challenge, I had plenty of time to take a breather and plan my next move.  Add in unlimited lives and the autosave functionality, and it was a breeze.

All told, I spent less than twenty minutes playing through the whole game.   However, I only found one of five secrets during my playthrough.  The secrets are well-hidden and require some trial-and-error to find, usually by scrolling the screen in unexpected ways.

Overall, I give Bluebones’ Curse a Try.  It’s a unique concept and a solid game, but it never felt challenging enough to hook me.  At 80 points, the length of the game isn’t a deal-killer, and I suspect I’m not the target audience.  Between the visuals and the casual difficulty, it feels like a game you might play with your children.  Either way, Chounard has a very solid platformer, and I’d like to see more.

 

A copy of Bluebones’ Curse was provided to GameMarx for this review by the developer.


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