Game: Edgar – Bokbok in Boulzac
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC and Xbox One)
Developers|Publishers: La Poule Noire
Price: US $18.99|AUS $ 24| CA $ 25.13|EU € 15,99 |UK £14.39
Age Rating: US T| EU 12+
Release Date: 26th February 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to La Poule Noire
The best term I can come up with to describe Edgar – Bokbok in Boulzac is ‘weird’. You play as Edgar, a bizarre recluse who likes to grow squash and chat to his pet chicken. (He also refers to this chicken as ‘precious’ on various occasions, which unfortunately reminded me of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.) Even the way he is drawn makes him seem odd, with eyes that seem fearful. The story is basically that he is desperate to find a precious material to help with keeping insects away from his squash, and thus he travels to a nearby town named Boulzac to ask around for information on how to obtain it.
Yes, it’s odd, but it’s odd in an interesting and engaging way. It all feels a bit like a creepy cartoon, and you interact with all sorts of characters during your adventure. The writing, in some ways, is just as odd as the game — it often feels solid and nicely done, and at other points it comes across as strangely stilted and somehow ‘off’. Either way, it works well enough to keep you playing, and there is plenty of funny dialogue.
A note on the developer’s official site mentions that one of the goals of the game was to summon up ‘the atmosphere of a small town just like where we come from’. This really does come through when you play.
There is a loose theme here of the outsiders and their relationship to the town society. Edgar is an eccentric hermit, while his main ally is a strange, embittered drunk, shunned by the other town people. Another ally turns out to be a shut-in wearing a bizarre costume. I feel that they could have leaned into this theme a bit more, in hindsight — some people you come across are a bit too friendly and accepting of Edgar and his odd questions, but the theme still works.
Gameplay consists of moving with the left analog stick while you select things or people with the A button. There is no journal that I could find, so it’s better to play this one consistently rather than stopping for long periods of time, otherwise you will find it tricky to pick up where you left off. There are a few cases where the gameplay might shift slightly (the final bit of the game has a fun little chase sequence) but mainly you will be just shuffling around, talking to people and making use of objects that you obtain.
It’s not a difficult game at all, although the aforementioned chase did require a few tries from me. If you are the type that requires games to be challenging, you may not care for it, but if you just want to have a fun adventure the game should work well for you.
The artwork is very good indeed. As I mentioned earlier, it feels a little like you’re in a creepy cartoon, and the aesthetic of the game as a whole is distinctive and interesting. Even just the first part, where you see Edgar in his cluttered hut (see the first image) is atmospheric. Another nice location is a bar (see the second image) where you can hang around and pester the customers and barkeep for information.
Sometimes it will rain, sometimes it will be sunny, sometimes you will have to explore while it’s dark outside. There was a particularly nice effect during one scene where Edgar has to wear glowing green goggles, and you can see the green rays shining down before him as you move the character around. The music is fair throughout, although not something that left a big impression on me. I don’t recall encountering any substantial bugs, which made for a refreshing change.
The game isn’t long, and can be completed in a few hours. Overall, I would say that it’s a fun little experience with a great approach to art and atmosphere. The price (about 19 dollars) is a bit high, so I would advise waiting for a sale. If you want something short, distinctive, and eccentric, give it a try.
Final Verdict: I like it.