Time for a hands-on preview of an upcoming adventure game called Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town – a PC exclusive title we recently got to take for a test drive.
What we know
Developed by imaginarylab and published by VLG Publishing, Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town is a throwback to the classic point and click adventure game genre. For an extra dose of adventure gaming nostalgia, it even features pirates, and comes packaged in modern graphics with a full soundtrack and voice acting.
It’s coming out on Steam later this year, and you can also get a short sample of what’s to come by visiting the game’s store page and downloading the demo. If you fancy a go after reading this preview, check out the Steam page for the demo.
What we saw
We played an early version of Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town, which goes well beyond what you can see in the demo that is publically available on the game’s steam page. Although more complete in a story sense, the build did have missing assets including voiceover work that hasn’t been added yet and animations that weren’t finalized yet. It did allow us to play past the demo sequence at the house and travel to other locations though, of course including Bone Town.
What we thought
Although its title perhaps suggests that Leisure Suit Larry is visiting Monkey Island, imaginarylab’s inspirations clearly come from Guybrush Threepwood’s exploits more than anything. A story that features pirates, plenty of interesting characters and a good dose of lighthearted humor, this is a game that’s geared towards fans of Lucasarts’ original Monkey Island masterpieces.
Visually, Willy Morgan takes the classic adventure genre into the modern era with lovely and detailed graphics, crafting a style that looks a bit like how a crossover between Monkey Island and Willy Beamish might look in 2020. The animation is lovely, with custom animations for sequences when Willy performs certain tasks. But while those felt fluid, some of the animations were a bit more crude – Willy’s hands not being near the objects he was grabbing/manipulating, or a transition that didn’t look smooth. Let’s hope this is just a testament to where the game is in development, because a lot of the animation work here looks excellent.
Structured much like the classic adventures of the nineties, the game wants you to complete a series of tasks in one location in order to progress to the next one. This can involve puzzle solving, finding and/or combining objects or talking to people. The designers find clever (narrative) ways of making sure your inventory doesn’t get too cluttered and modern design elements like the ability to highlight hotspots help you to not get stuck, but that classic feeling of “that was way too random!” still pop up. In a way, that’s a bit of nostalgia too.
The writing and the humor in the game aren’t quite up to Lucasarts’ golden standard, with some of the jokes falling flat and the main narrative in need of some polish. The many nods to classic adventure gaming tropes are enough to bring a nostalgia-fueled smile to fans of the genre though, and the central mystery (which involves your missing father) is an interesting one.
We seem to be in a bit of an adventure gaming draught at the moment (feel free to correct us if we overlooked a recent gem!), so we’re eager to see how Willy Morgan will turn out when the final version of the game releases later this year.