Bone: Out from Boneville Download (2005 Adventure Game)

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The creators of LucasArts' sadly canceled Sam and Max: Freelance Police band together to bring a different thoughtful comedy adventure to PC gamers. Based on the comic compilation by Jeff Smith, Bone: Out From Boneville follows the adventures of the three Bone cousins. Fone Bone is the classic everyman hero, occasionally burdened by self-doubt but blessed with a good heart that always sees him through. Phoney Bone is cynical and greedy, but his sensibilities often provide a needed balance to Fone's optimism. Smiley is as Smiley does -- which usually means a lot of smiling, no matter how desperate the situation seems.

The Bones are cute but odd looking hominids; bald, with white skin and excessively large noses. As the story begins, they've just been run out of their little village of Boneville, after one of Phoney's get-rich-quick schemes puts them (way) out of favor with the townsfolk. The three find themselves lost in a strange, forgotten world of magic and monsters, where even the good guys are not what they seem to be. As the three seek a way back home, they become central figures in an epic struggle between good and evil that involves ominous swarms of locusts, deposed royalty, and perhaps even dragons (although as everyone knows, dragons don't really exist...).

The game features colorful 3D graphics and the menus and dialog boxes are presented in the style of the comic series. Exploration of the game world is accomplished mostly through a traditional point-and-click interface, but occasional mini-games provide more action-oriented play. Since much of the comic's charm relies on the interaction between the three cousins and their disparate reactions to the people they meet on their journey, the game allows players to take control of each of the three Bones in certain conversations, offering the multiple perspectives required to truly appreciate the heroic tale.

Bone: Out From Boneville is based on a whimsical, almost Disney-esque comic book series starring three short, sassy, semi-human cartoon cousins called the Bones. They're a handful just by themselves, but they're further complimented by and extended cast that includes a beautiful girl, a bored-looking dragon, an apron-clad grandmother who races cows, a bug named Ted, and an army of talking rat creatures who entertain a strange love of quiche. It's clever, charming, and a little bit timeless; the kind of stuff kids love because it's vibrant and goofy, and adults love because it's smarter and more meaningful than its cartoonish look would suggest.

It's also now a video game, thanks to Telltale Games and the book's creator/writer/artist Jeff Smith. The Bones: earnest hero-protagonist Fone Bone, scheming huckster Phoney Bone, and the clownishly silly Smiley Bone, make an ideal band of would-be heroes. Thanks to their distinct personalities and a cute-but-not-sappy visual design adopted faithfully from the comic, this humorous, light-hearted point-and-click, fantasy adventure is one thing over all else: fun.

Creator Smith's style comes through unspoiled, with clear storytelling that emulates the light-but-clever tone of the comics quite well. Several of the jokes are even funny, and are helped along by solid voice acting (Fone Bone in particular is pitch perfect) and plenty of likeable, well-paced dialogue.

The puzzles are a mix of real-time action scenes, logic puzzles and even some spatial awareness stuff, all of which are simple, but effective. None are particularly complex; even the most fiendish brain-ticklers can be defeated with a few moments of lateral thought or careful observation. They are, however, occasionally too irritating for you to want to defeat, so patience and persistence are necessary virtues.

Our favorites are the dialogue puzzles, where saying the right things to the right characters in the right order will decide your success. The conversations are usually fairly silly (which we love) and there are moments when the solution is a happy surprise instead of the obvious conclusion typical games would require.


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