fullborefeature

Full Bore Review: Reaping What We Sow

Platform: Windows PC
Developer: Whole Hog Games
Publisher: Whole Hog Games
Release Date: 5/7/14

 

Check out our preview of Full Bore: Part 1!

I hope that Full Bore, by some miracle, gets the attention it deserves. This Kickstarted puzzle game perfectly combines complex puzzle solving with a strong focus on exploration, using its puzzles to add to the mystery of its world, and using its open structure to layer its puzzles with multiple solutions and multiple rewards. I loved Full Bore when I played its first half a few weeks ago, and Part 2 adds a host of new elements, making the experience even richer.

Full Bore follows either Frederick or Hildi, two small boars who wander into a minefield, fall down a pit and find themselves in a world run by sentient boars and moles. Part 1 focuses on the boars’ attempt to pay off their debt to a local mining company, while Part 2 takes the boars down far stranger roads. This all plays out on a 2D plane, and the focus is squarely on carefully digging through terrain, solving block pushing puzzles and on exploring the world. Puzzles frequently have multiple solutions leading to hidden pickups and to secret areas filled with especially difficult puzzles.

fullborecolorful

Full Bore has dozens of types of soil to dig through and blocks to push introduced gradually through both parts. The puzzle variety is staggering; even in the final area I still ran into puzzles that surprised me, or made me think of the puzzle elements in new ways. While most puzzles involve getting from A to B, there are plenty of rescue missions, hidden pickups and even full-on action scenes. A nicely balanced difficulty curve, a clean automap and a limited undo all make the gameplay feel smooth even during the toughest puzzles.

The real beauty of Full Bore is how the puzzle solving folds so naturally into the exploration. Navigation is a huge part of the puzzle solving, as your bore can scramble up blocks and soil a single step higher, and puzzles tend to focus as much on simply navigating the area as they do on collecting gems and finding secrets. Full Bore’s world is laid out in a series of interconnected hub worlds, much like a Metroid game. The world is filled with secrets and bits of lore, revealing a vaguely ominous backstory tied to the wealth of postgame content, and learning the quirks of each individual element stays exciting well after the credits roll. Upon finishing the game I had found and fully explored one entirely optional hub world, and had another listed as unexplored. A lot of the optional puzzles are especially difficult, and often use one-off elements and scripted events, leading to a nicely player-driven difficulty curve, and a real sense of variety even in the postgame. Almost every time I got stuck I was able to walk away from the puzzle and find a dozen more, returning later with a better understanding of the game’s logic.

2014-05-02_00004

The only major complaint I have about Full Bore is the clumsy warp system. Warp points are uncommon, and all warp to the same confusing, map-free hub world. Though each warp looks slightly different and I eventually learned to find some common areas by sight, it is still far clunkier than it has to be. The warps are infrequent enough that I would frequently have to solve puzzles multiple times in order to reach certain areas, and I even passed up a couple of secret areas because I didn’t want to deal with the backtracking. That is only an issue in the more densely packed areas, but is frustrating enough to be notable.

2014-04-02_00001

Most puzzle games tend to arbitrarily separate their puzzles in some way; even the epic, sprawling, narrative-heavy Deadly Rooms of Death games have rigid divisions between puzzles, preventing the world from feeling truly seamless. Full Bore’s structure makes the puzzle solving feel like a more organic part of the world almost any other puzzle game I’ve seen, and the openness makes every puzzle a layer of interconnected challenges and each room a tapestry of bizarre gadgetry, demanding brainteasters and ominous suggestions. I loved Full Bore Part 1 when I played it during the beta, and Part 2 is an improvement in every way. The new elements, like blocks that only drop when stomped on, mesh nicely with the old, and the puzzle variety, smooth difficulty curve and intriguing hints of plot make Full Bore a game really worth digging in to. 

A review copy of this game was provided by Whole Hog Games.



[fbcomments]