If you aren’t familiar with these games yet, they are based on Jeff Smith’s award winning comic series. I’m going to start out by introducing you to the three main characters in the story which I described in a similar way for my review of The Great Cow Race:
Fone Bone is very sympathetic and generally quite nice. You can tell right from the beginning that he has been and will continue to be a negotiator between the other two Bones. Toward the end of this episode, Fone meets Thorn for the first time, and it is obvious that a bit of a crush has developed.
Smiley Bone is a happy character that probably isn’t the brightest bulb. A perfect comparison of Smiley to someone more familiar would be the legendary TV personality “Gomer Pyle.” Everything about this Bone reminded me of him. There isn’t actually much of Smiley in episode one, but the story introduces him.
Phoney Bone is a greedy, unmindful guy who always seems to stir up trouble. In this first episode, he is the primary reason these three bones have been run out of their hometown, and it doesn’t look as if his crabby attitude will be changing anytime soon.
The game begins on a desert cliff, where the three bone cousins seem to be stuck. How did they get there? Well, it’s really all Phoney’s fault. In a bid for the Mayoral seat of Boneville, Phoney decides to throw a brunch for all of Boneville by the river. After a bit of a mishap with a giant balloon and the distribution of spoiled prunes, everyone becomes enraged and chases the three Bones out of town. They have no map, no water, no food, and no Bear Grylls to help them. Atop the cliff, they do discover some sort of map but it seems to be drawn up by a child, and they don’t get much time to study it before a swarm of locusts is on their heels. All three cousins become separated in the calamity, each one eventually coming upon a great valley which they make their way down into.
The Bone series consists of fairly standard third-person adventure games with standard controls and inventory. They even threw in a help system, which will give you a series of hints if you are stuck, but it can be disabled for the more serious gamers. One of the best features of this series so far has to be the camera work, which is rare for a game played in the third-person perspective. I can’t tell you how many console ports I’ve played where the view becomes just plain terrible, but Telltale does it the right way. Your view is never obstructed, and the movement seems slow and controlled. Something that I found rather surprising compared to the first episode was the fact that I didn’t even notice the load times. In the second episode, they seemed a bit slower.
"One of the best features of this series so far has to be the camera work, which is rare for a game played in the third-person perspective."
While you get the chance to play as all three cousins in The Great Cow Race, in Out from Boneville you only play Fone and Phoney. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I did find this episode to be quite short and I think one of the things that could have been done to extend the playing time would have been to give players an opportunity to play Smiley. The possibility of taking a different course through the valley’s woods might have fit well considering Fone and Phoney’s routes are basically the same.
While I thought the storyline was the strongpoint in The Great Cow Race, this episode didn’t seem to offer as much. I think the lack of character rotation and the similar routes, as I just mentioned above, are the main culprits here. The basic background is presented, you come to understand that there is some sort of evil lurking in the valley’s forest, the relationship between Thorn and Fone begins, and that’s about it.
"...this episode didn’t seem to offer as much."
The graphics are done in a 3D cartoon-like style that I believe fits perfectly for this adaptation. All of the characters look just like their comic book counterparts, giving you a chance to actually experience the story rather than read it.
I would like to reemphasize my positive thoughts on the sound and music in the Bone episodes at this point. While I think much of it was the same in the second episode, it is very well done, and the variety is what really keeps things fresh – it changes from scene to scene. Voice acting for most of the characters is also done quite well. From Ted the tiny leaf bug to the Great Red Dragon, each character truly takes on a unique personality which should work very well with this episodic series as we get deeper into the story. You actually get to play as Ted in a small portion of this episode; he has to be one of my favorite characters so far. The conversations among the rat creatures can get somewhat repetitive, but their ramblings about quiche and body fat are funny the first time you hear them.
This episode seems to be lacking quite a bit as far as the storyline and length are concerned. It should supposedly last about three hours, but it seemed even shorter than that to me; much too short, actually. I also found the hide-and-seek puzzle to be annoying the second time around with Phoney. The Great Cow Race is an improvement, and I have a feeling that the series could become very popular as more episodes are released. That being said, though, in order for an episodic series to work, Telltale needs to release the content at a faster pace – for example, the pace at which they are delivering Sam and Max.