Preview | Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure (Chapter 1)

Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Adventure Mob and focused around the tale of a Reggae Singer, his band and the beginning of their rise to fame. It packs some very thinly-veiled (read: glaringly obvious) references to Bob Marley, some extremely impressive artwork and a suitably excellent soundtrack into around an hour’s worth of gameplay.

The game starts at the end with a neat little tutorial to get you into the game mechanics. Bolt’s band are about to play a show, but everything seems to be going wrong! Through a series of well defined problems you learn how to interact with objects, use the verb system and utilise your inventory. Unfortunately this is let down slightly by the unnecessary re-iteration of how to do things by a voice-over, which taints what could be an otherwise brilliantly subtle tutorial.

Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure tutorial screen
Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure tutorial

Once you’re stage-ready, the curtains open, but Bolt has stage-fright! Enter: the final game mechanic you’ll need to learn – and this is the one that sets it apart from other point-and-clicks – you can collect concepts and emotions, or ‘inspirations’ as they are termed in-game. This is an excellent addition to the traditional loot system and, while we only get to play around with it once or twice in this chapter, it’s a feature I hope will be used to its full extent as the game is further developed.

Conversation from Bolt Riley
‘Being a rude boy sucks’

After this introduction, the short credits scene transports us back to 1970s Jamaica and goes a little bit Fresh Prince of Bel Air, with Bolt getting into a bit of a confrontation during a sports game. Here we are introduced to our first villain and establish a moral dilemma to be played out in the following gameplay. It’s clear from the dialog options within any conversation that Bolt is dissatisfied with his Rude Boy way of life, and wants to strive towards something better and the rest of this chapter works towards both endearing you towards the protagonist, and presumably setting the stage for the events leading up to the opening tutorial.

The puzzles are well thought-out although lack some build-up in certain cases, making them more guess-work than logical progression, however, the developers have already acknowledged this as something that they are aware of and, in many cases, the subtle nods towards what to do next are very well-placed. One puzzle involves repeatedly talking to a character until all possible lines of dialog are exhausted before you can progress. This quickly becomes the opposite of fun but could be easily rectified by perhaps taking out some options as I was enjoying the back and forth for a while.

Bolt Riley artworkThe 2D artwork is reminiscent of the Deponia series and later Monkey Island games, and frankly looks amazing. The environments are charming and the characters are unique. The music is obviously reggae-heavy, although the credits sequence sounds Monkey Island-esque (when combined with the art style this could be influence or just purely coincidental). The voice acting was well done, but in some places the dialog feels a little bit stereotypical and over the top. The fact that you can set the language into English or Jamaican is a nice touch.

As with any alpha release there are kinks to be worked out and dynamics to be smoothed over. Helpfully, Adventure Mob are already hot on the heels of the changes they want to make, and advise anyone playing the Alpha to read their notes first – although it would have been nice if the notes didn’t contain a spoiler for one of the chapters main puzzles.

The project was originally funded over 7 days by 757 Kickstarter backers raising over $32,000, an impressive feat for a short-term campaign. You can continue to fund the project via PayPal to help them add new features and reach stretch goals.

Bolt Riley Passion Inspiration
Bolt acquires a new inspiration

This is definitely a series I’ll be keeping my eye on, and I look forward to seeing the refinement of this chapter and how the following chapters build on the first.

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