Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town, developed by imaginarylab and published by VLG Publishing, is a Point-and-Click, modern-day, pirate-based adventure, which has been available on Steam since 2020, but is released on the Nintendo Switch on the 8th June 2021. For this review, I used my Nintendo Switch Lite. The premise of the game revolves around Willy Morgan, a 15-year-old son of two archaeologists, who sets out to discover the circumstances resulting in the disappearance of his father 10 years previously.
The game begins at Willy’s house, where we discover that his father is missing, and his mother is currently away on a business trip in the Amazon. While Willy is alone at home, a mysterious letter arrives from his father, the archaeologist, Henry Morgan, 10 years after his disappearance under unusual circumstances in a place called Bone Town. With this letter, Willy begins to set out on his quest to locate his father – think pirates and the obsession about the location of missing treasure, and you will get the idea where this story will head.
This phase in the household provides an opportunity to get a feel for the game, such as the controls and the general layout, as you are required to complete a few tasks before you can set off for Bone Town, such as locating parts of a bicycle, which you will use to travel. The importance is to explore everything and make sure you keep your eyes peeled. I chose to select the optional tutorial, where Willy will guide you around the controls and provide you with helpful tips. There is an inventory section, where you can examine the items collected throughout and combine these elements to make a new item, which can be in turn used in other areas of the game.
Once this area is completed, you will set off to Bone Town, a strange, unusual, run-down place, where its remaining residents are trying desperately to hold on to the memory of the once prosperous town. This is where I find the true beauty of the game is discovered. The graphics are stunning, and although the protagonist’s movements are quite wooden in general, it is still visually beautiful. You get to experience almost a travel through time, as various areas represent different decades - the music store being a representation of the disco era, while the so-called 'pub' transports you closer to the present day, with vending machines, consoles and even a 3D printer making an appearance. There are also some cinematic cut-scenes which appear every now and then to break up the gameplay. The soundtrack also provides a very pleasant backdrop to a lot of the scenes. Another positive to the game is the autosave feature which save you in instances of low battery - I mean we are all guilty of becoming so absorbed as to forget charging the Switch now and again...oh, it's just me, you say? Oh, OK, very well then.
The puzzles are quite basic and samey, standard for a Point-and-Click game, with one or two head-scratchers thrown in for good measure – but then again, I would not consider myself to be the sharpest tool in the shed. I did not feel particularly challenged with the puzzles involved, so children of all ages should be able to enjoy these. I enjoyed interacting with the residents of Bone Town to discover some backstory about the town. There are plenty of quirky characters, and some amusing tasks to complete - such as finding a way to sit through all the potential ways to cook chicken - but the story-line, albeit decent, was lacking in areas. Just as I felt the story was finding its feet, it came to a very abrupt end. I came to my ‘whodunnit’ conclusions very quickly and was left wanting by the time the game had ended – so expect possibly 4-5 hours of gameplay.
A few not-so-positive elements of the game appeared with the use of controls. It is possible to play using the touchscreen controls and I found myself using an amalgamation of the touchscreen and button controls. This is because I found the directional controls far to clunky and slow – on some occasions I would end up missing the area to click entirely. I felt that this game is much more suited for a mouse rather than the Switch controls, but again, this would be a personal preference as I would not be a fan of using the touchscreen elements of the Switch. The movement of the character is also very slow, and while the scenery is stunning, the fast-travel element is a welcoming sight to get from one place to another. It is also very easy to exhaust all potential dialogue options, and the voice-acting can become a bit grating at times.
All-in-all, I found Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town an enjoyable game and a solid effort from imaginarylab. It is beautiful aesthetically, with a decent story-line, which would keep you engaged throughout, albeit on the short side. I will put my hands up firmly and admit that it has been a very long time since I have last played a Point-and-Click game. However, playing Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town transported me back to my childhood and memories of the Carmen Sandiego franchise and the Monkey Island series in particular. With a PEGI-rating of 7, children and adults alike will be entertained. While my opinion would be that this game is more suitable for keyboard and mouse, it is still a welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch and the portability the Switch offers. It is an ideal distraction on a daily commute, or when travelling on holiday. I anticipate a sequel in store, and will be looking forward to this, if it is indeed the case.
Tina's Rating: 3.5 Aarrrghs out of 5.
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