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Uh-Oh: BOH [Review]

BOH_ReviewImagine yourself in a thin, dark corridor with only a modest weapon and flashlight to guide you. Your only company are the monsters patrolling the area looking for you as a meal, and just when you think you’ve got a handle on your fears and claustrophobia, you realize the monsters may only be the least of your worries.

Welcome to Simone Bevilacqua’s BOH, a retro top-down action title that has players moving through a maze of rooms and corridors, relying on split-second reactions to fend off monsters and find ways out of trap-laden levels. I recently had a chance to run through the gauntlet, here are some of my thoughts.

Gameplay

BOH is a 2D top-down shooter with complex puzzle components, You start the game by choosing a level, and as you jump in you’ll find quickly the sight is limited by what you can, and more importantly your light can, see in front of you. There are upgraded flashlights to be found in some areas which are a boon. Particularly the the 360 view, as monsters are invisible out of your general light vision.

As I made my way through several levels, I found out quickly that the longer I took, the more enemies I had on my hands, like homing missiles (actually one enemy is exactly that) they pursue you until either they kamikaze into you or you destroy them with several shots from your pistol. I developed a lure and destroy method where I would stretch them out down a long corridor and get several shots off while backing up. Staying disciplined to that concept made the levels easier to deal with. Though there are only a half dozen monster types, each creature has unique AI, so you can’t expect the same treatment as the time before.

I definitely had some growing pains once the timed rooms and traps forced me down the more dangerous path. The game’s difficulty went from hard to at times near impossible as I was forced to toughen up and really focus on minimizing damage and concentrate always on what was directly in front of me; which was more often than not a large and confusing labyrinth of death. You must be on your toes to react in time to what’s coming, and a photographic memory wouldn’t hurt either to remember certain passageways and locked doors you’ll need to come back for once those aloof keys are retrieved. With 35 missions in all, the game provides plenty of content to work your way through.

Style

BOH may be one of the most immersive games I’ve played period, no small feat considering its lack of advanced graphics. The atmosphere is instead captured by its difficult, varied gameplay. Not to mention, the game is extremely customizable, before you even start in the options menu there are several themes to choose from with entirely different graphics, music and sound.

You can’t just play BOH and sort of care what’s going on. You have to play it at 100% or not at all, and while that appealed to me, that ‘no compromise’ attitude caters to a very specific audience. Casual players will be quickly overwhelmed and simply won’t stick around. Though it’s clear that was never the intention of the dev anyway.

As for sounds, the music around the levels is simple and captures two main ‘feels’ of the game: retro and ‘you’re all alone.’ As for in-level, the only music you’ll be hearing is the screeching of monsters and the dripping of leaky pipes, extremely atmospheric.

Story

To understand the game’s story you need only understand the story behind the development of it. BOH comes from an Italian expression that means ‘I Don’t Know’, Simone Bevilacqua’s open development plan prompted him to give it the name. As the title entered development, Bevilacqua didn’t quite know where it was going. By the time the project was released, the term still fit with the customizable and varied gameplay that was offered.

Everything Else

BOH brings a lot to the table for retro lovers. An extremely challenging game with a simple exterior and complex innards. Simply the more you’re into the game the more you’re going to get out of it. The dev has continued to release new content updates for the game, releasing Update9 for the title in late January of this year.

BOH is available for boxed purchase and download along with a multi-OS demo for the title on the game’s official site.

[The developer/publisher gave DIYgamer.com a copy of this game for review purposes.]

Comments

  • Levin

    I’ve bought the game some times ago and it’s really worth (simply awesome for retro gaming fans). I respect the developer for continuing to release new patches :) Looking for the 10th update.

  • http://www.bohthegame.com Simone Bevilacqua

    Hello, this is BOH’s author.

    @Erik

    I was about to send you an email to ask whether you’d like to try an updated version (as update10 is nearing the release), but then I accidentally found that the review had just been published!
    Well, thank you so much for the nice review! It perfectly captures the core of the game :)
    May I add a quote and a link to it in the reviews page of BOH’s website?
    Finally, do you mind if I add just a little thing? I’d like to tell our readers that there several themes available, which change entirely the graphics, music and sound ;)

    @Levin

    Thanks for your kind support!
    As for the 10th update, it’s coming shortly – I’ll seize the chance to post the list of the changes that have *already* been implemented.

    update10:
    * makes the main character turn with acceleration when standing (allows turning by small degrees and, at the same time, changing totally direction more quickly);
    * makes the enemy fields harmful like traps and adds sound to them;
    * intensifies the hit sparks effect;
    * increases a bit the weapons shoot rate (so killing enemies is a bit easier);
    * replaces the “USE ENHANCED/STANDARD WEAPONS” option with the “DIFFICULTY: normal/easy” option, which affects also the spawning rate of enemies;
    * removes the “ENABLE/DISABLE BARRIERS” option;
    * adds walls graphics to themes “C64″, “default” and “warm”;
    * redefines a couple of tiles in the theme “underground”;
    * extends the range of the light of rotating lamps;
    * adds music and recoloring of graphics to the mission report screen;
    * adds 10 new short pieces of music;
    * retouches some pieces of music;
    * simplifies the menus and adds the indication of the missions number;
    * changes the automatic theme switching so that the theme will not change after selecting a different video mode or selecting a different automatic theme switching option;
    * updates and improves the manuals;
    * applies various other changes.

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