Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town Review

After our preview of Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town, here is our review for the full game. Since the preview, there was an update for the demo improving UI, animations, sound, and adding additional translations.

My opinion of the game since writing the preview remains very positive. Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town does well to fit the archetype of point & click adventure games whilst standing out with a unique story and setting. It comes across as both contemporary and nostalgic. Though there are, however, a handful of minor flaws, which this review will cover.

A Modern Take on a Classic Style

Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town is a point & click adventure game with heavy inspiration from Monkey Island. The style and presentation of gameplay and objectives reflects this well. Information is presented to players through examination of objects and environment, as well as thorough exploration of dialogue.

One of the more striking similarities to the themes of Monkey Island is the unusual combination of pirate themes and modern technology. However, in Willy Morgan, the pirate themes are mainly prominent in the architecture and history of Bone Town – though grog remains a popular drink. The inhabitants are mostly descendants of famous pirates, such as William Kidd or Edward Teach.

ImaginaryLab did a good job taking inspirations from the Monkey Island games whilst keeping Willy Morgan an original and fresh experience. More overt references to Monkey Island come in the form of Easter eggs, as well as references to many other point & clicks.

Controls are much simpler than classic point & clicks like Monkey Island, primarily using left and right clicks. The game is a lot more accessible, where only a mouse is enough to finish the game. There is less complexity due to the absence of verb mechanics – pull, use, talk, look at, etc. It’s a shame the game doesn’t use these as they allow for extra humour.

Importantly, for a point & click game, there is a lack of bad moon logic. There are some initially unclear solutions, but they all follow a coherent logic, at least in hindsight. None of the puzzles are unnecessarily frustrating.

Quality over Quantity

While the story is fairly short, gameplay offers many hours of extensive dialogue and exploration. This helps Willy Morgan fit into the genre of point & click adventure games well; there is more emphasis on the gameplay and puzzle-solving. Another classic element of point & click adventures shared by Willy Morgan is that the game encourages trial and error. Some objects have incorrect uses that provide unique dialogue or animations. The lengthy dialogue and exploration helps with world building, establishing a good foothold for future games within the same setting.

Another great part of the game are the visuals; the unique graphical style of Willy Morgan accentuates the quirky and dark themes of the game. Distortion of objects and environments adds to the game’s surreal feel, though lighting, colours, and textures are mainly realistic and add to the gothic/pirate feel.

Animations remain the same as before, with only a handful of animations for each character. The lack of alternate idle animations is a little disappointing, especially when there are some great cutscenes in the game. Another problem with the idle animations is that when trying to talk to NPCs, one has to wait for the animation to finish before the conversation will begin. Despite that issue, animations are appropriate for each context and are not distracting. They keep scenes looking active without making them overbearing.

The game is full of a quirky and diverse range of characters, each with full voice dialogue. With a small cast, some characters share the same voice actor, but the delivery of lines helps them stand out well as individual characters. The balance of dialogue audio seems a little imperfect, however, with several characters sounding slightly but notably louder than the protagonist.

The soundtrack, as mentioned in the preview, has plenty of fun and original tracks. It has a lot of variation and helps tone down the seriousness of much of the game, especially outside of major story developments. The music that stuck in my head the most was the one from the Library.

Developer: ImaginaryLab

Publisher: VLG Publishing, WhisperGames

Platform: PC

Release Date: 11th August 2020

Gaming Respawn’s copy of Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town was provided by the publisher.

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