As mentioned previously, Oded Sharon put the word out for potential testers for his reggae themed point and click adventure game Bolt Riley and of course I applied to get my hands dirty trying to find any bugs that might be lurking in the dark recesses of the code. As luck would have it, a combination of being a friend, an avid tester, and journalist I was given one of the coveted spots as an early tester. Well, the first alpha build has been released and I took her for a spin. With Oded’s blessing I’ve decided to write my thoughts for all to see.
In Bolt Riley you play as a Jamaican “Rude Boy”, basically a reluctant member of a street gang, as he discovers the beauty of reggae music and the inspiration the lyrics can bring forth in others. The Kickstarter was funded purely for the first chapter of a planned trilogy after a failed first attempt to get the entire game done, and it just barely managed to hit the $31k goal. Which frankly was impressive considering the second campaign ran for only a week.
Anyway, the first alpha build is short. Not much longer than the demo originally pushed out during the campaign. After a brief tutorial of trying to get your band ready for your first concert you flash back to when Bolt and Smokey were still trying to make ends meet on the streets of Jamaica. They’re forced by the Rude Boy leader to steal an old man’s radio and the major puzzle begins.
The one unique feature of Bolt Riley beyond most adventure games is the secondary inventory system in the form of “inspirations”. Like if you eat a piece of passion fruit you’re inspired to sing about passion. And you can use these inspirations on others to…well, inspire them. There’s some head scratching in the alpha build but nothing that a little lateral thinking can’t solve. One issue that I had with trying to figure things out is when Demonde won’t let you talk to anyone in the starting screen but really the whole “you can’t do that” shtick wears thin in today’s environment.
That said, the game released so far to testers may be incredibly short but what I’ve seen looks solid. There is, obviously, a lot missing but that’s to be expected at this stage of development. None of the voices are really plugged into the game and there is some placeholder art, and a couple bugs that I caught but nothing really major.
My experience with Bolt Riley so far is that while it’s looking great it’s so short I finished it in half an hour. There’s hardly any meat on the bones but I’m certain that the story will be expanded upon with each iteration until it’s at the point where it’s at least on par with the shortest adventures that I’ve played. Oded is looking for quality over quantity, and I’m certainly with him on that, but there does need to be enough story for you to feel for our poor hero as he works his way from the slums to musical stardom.