Number of Reviews: 4
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Animal protagonist, unusual verbs, smooth experience, May 16, 2022
I didn't get to look at nearly as many Spring Thing games as I'd hoped, but all the same, I'm glad I got to The Bright Blue Ball. It's surprisingly cheery for something with the topic BBB has, and I don't think I was the only one who needed that. I'm more a cat person than a dog person, but I wound up being quickly invested in the protagonist, who escapes from their safe home to look impulsively for, as the title suggests, a bright blue ball. It's their favorite, and they know they should know better, and they feel bad the moment they're out the door, but they have to find it. And they have quite an adventure before coming home.
It's no spoiler to mention that, yes, you do find the ball, meeting people along the way and solving the mystery for you-the-player without you-the-character fully understanding what's going on beyond their own needs and the needs of humans they meet in a deserted town. This is hardly new, but here it doesn't feel forced, and so I had the impression the author had good command of the story side of things. For instance, if you went back home too early, your family would say different things based on how far along you were in the game. As to why they can't or won't go outside, while others are, that makes a good deal of sense quickly. The constraints, such as being able to carry only one thing at once because you are a dog, aren't just there as a nuisance. They add to the realism, and here the inventory limits are complemented by not having a lot of useless items.
As an example of the strength of the game world, I ran into a game-state problem where I was locked out of a win (I took a circuitous route that missed a few clues and thus stress-tested things rigorously,) and it was pretty clear, because a room description conflicted with the narrative built up. But it was easy to remember what to do, and I enjoyed seeing clues I'd missed, and so forth. When something potentially disastrous like that works out okay, you know you have something good. And if this is fixed in the latest release, so much the better!
While it's dreadfully unfair to compare a first-time author's work to something like Toby's Nose in detail, I think it carves out emotions and story that Toby's Nose doesn't, and it offers promise that there are others. I'd like to see more games where SMELL is a prominent command. And I think the technical mistakes I saw were that of a first-time author, so if they have something else to share, I'm looking forward to their next work. They seem to have the important and harder-to-teach things right.