I’ll have to admit that I had some hardships playing Full Bore at first. It takes time to unwind itself, and it’s up to the player to maintain momentum via puzzle solving until interesting stuff starts happening, but once it did, there was no puzzle complicated enough for me to give up playing.
This is a game with many layers, and one has to understand what he/she’s getting into before starting it up. If you’re a fan of puzzle gaming, you’ll be right at home with Full Bore, even though it sports some very dynamic and interesting mechanics for one such game. First things first, however. As you gain control over your boar of choice, be it male or female, you will immediately be stunned by the wealth of visual beauty this game will throw at you. Ranging from 16-bit era pixelated graphics all the way to superbly cute animations of your boar thumping its head over the floor, absolutely everything is brilliantly brought to life. Which is weird, because it’s painfully obvious that a great catastrophe took place in the given world. From the get go, there’s something grim lulling close to what you will experience. A certain feeling that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. And as soon as you find your first computer terminal, you will understand that the world our piggies live in holds dark secrets. Secrets you will, of course, uncover.
With such a dynamic and fascinating beginning, it’s hard not to expect even bigger, faster and cooler things to happen soon. As with most puzzle platformers, this explosion of awesomeness comes a tad bit too late. I found it similar to Fez, in that respect, as that game slowed down quite a bit too after a thrilling start. Not an issue, mind you, it’s just that this can result in players losing interest quickly. Where Fez battled this with wildly imaginative levels and backgrounds, Full Bore has no such failsafe. It’s up to the player to find things to do and secrets to uncover, which isn’t hard at all, but can be a bit tedious at times.
Most games that make up this sub-genre force their players to solve one puzzle after another, which often results in frustration, should these setbacks prove too difficult or irrational. There are no such problems with Full Bore, however, as it takes one of the most prominent features of Metroidvania games and works with it – their openness. Indeed, the player can take off in any direction he/she wishes to go, and make progress there. This will result in a healthy amount of backtracking later on, but it’s a sacrifice you will surely unknowingly make. There’s a jillion of hidden goodies for one to find, and it’s all too easy to miss them by accident. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but some might be annoyed by the overall lack of direction in this game.
Aside from being a lovely visual experience, Full Bore can also be proud of its brilliant audio substratum. There’s a certain blues vibe interconnected with the omnipresent old school soundtrack, making this game a fairly unique auditory experience. Of course, all other sound effects are up to par, too. Hooves stomping across the ground and heads trampling through the dirt – it’s all building upon the adventure.
Full Bore is truly brimming with details. One example of the developers care about this game is in the richness of facial animations. Yes, really. Who would’ve expected a 16-bit puzzle sidescroller to excel in the way its characters show emotion. And yet, whenever your boar looks towards you -breaking the 4th wall in the best possible way- you will surely smile. Both to the lack of understanding it shows towards circumstances it finds itself in and to the given situations themselves. Really, it’s hard not to smile when playing Full Bore. At least for the first hour or so, even though the overall atmosphere remains just as grim (or worse) until the very end.
To sum it all up, this is a game of charm and intellect – one that requires brains and quick wit more than anything else. And while there is an odd slice here and there (a certain time-limited part springs to mind…), this cake remains a wealthy and tasty dessert through and through.