Well BOOR Is Rather Lovely

You don’t actually need an original gimmick, developers. You can just take an old gimmick and do it really well. That’s BOOR’s [official site] approach, a 2D platform puzzle game in which your character can create very temporary clones of herself and work in cooperation with them. We’ve seen it lots of times before, but when a good idea is done nicely, it’s – well – a good idea! Make it utterly, utterly lovely to look at and you’re well on your way.

I’m quick to dismiss stories in puzzle games, because they’re usually an annoyance between actually getting to do anything, but if they’re going to have one it should be BOOR’s way. There’s something something about a human colony called Eden creating an artificial intelligence (the rather unfortunately named BOOR (think about your homophones, developers)) but – shock – that colony isn’t very nice. Humans in labs. Person who can clone herself. Explosion. Puzzles. Nothing but a thing to wait through before you can play the charming game… but then, once you are playing, it rather splendidly carries on telling its tale within the framework of the levels.

THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT, EVERYONE.

Not cutscenes, not god-awful back-of-an-exercise-book cartoons with captions, but speak to the player as they play the core of your game.

Anyway, that aside, the puzzles themselves are immediately familiar, but then rather quickly pleasingly tricky. Your character – she’s unnamed so let’s call her… Sally – runs and jumps as you might expect, but click a button and she spawns a clone that lives for about ten seconds. This timespan is ingeniously communicated by a decreasing circle around the greyer version of herself, she disappearing as it does. That’s a smart choice, something instantly understandable as you’re getting on with jumping and running to where you need to be, rather than glancing away at a timer. With two of herself, Sally is able to aid herself in reaching buttons, switching off lasers, and tricking security monitors (literally monitors on legs – geddit?) into shooting barriers.

The clone is disposable, so there’s no harm in having it injured or killed, but Sally hserself will die in one hit of anything, spike, enemy, etc, so must be carefully looked after as she progresses from one side of the screen to the other. The clone can also pass through grey walls that Sally cannot (don’t ask me why, it’s probably something to do with ghost physics) making the auto-teamwork essential.

It moves along at a good pace, introducing new puzzle concepts thick and fast rather than overly relying on what’s been before. And like I say, it looks absolutely lovely as it does it. Simple reds and greys are portrayed with a deft use of texture, a lovely papery style to the defiantly 2D design.

And it’s only a smidge over £3. This is the sort of game that makes my frustrated trawling through the Steam mire a worthwhile endeavour. Sweet, splendidly delivered, and a bargain for a game you’d not heard of until just now.

BOOR is out now for Windows, Mac and Linux via Steam for £3.20/$4/€4.

5 Comments

  1. LTK says:

    but then, once you are playing, it rather splendidly carries on telling its tale within the framework of the levels.

    Based on this I was expecting non-interrupting dialogue during the levels, Portal-style, but until now, the game has delivered all of its narrative through computer terminals and dialogue windows between levels. With uncomfortably slow scrolling text. Unless it changes later, I cannot think of why you highlight this as something special.

    Also, someone tell the devs that button prompts are not a luxury reserved for more expensive games. A for jump, S for clone is something you need to convey at least once.

  2. Nevard says:

    I do like the art style but I found the game a little overly simplistic, and without particularly good checkpointing.
    There’s several multi-step puzzles that you have to restart from the top if you mess up, which can be frustrating given your character’s lack of durability. The “boss” fights in particular annoy in this regard because the second just essentially requires you to perform a series of dodges over a very long period of time without getting hit once, with no checkpointing.

    Also have to agree with LTK that I don’t really see this “environmental storytelling” at all. All the story has been told directly to me through speech bubbles or computer terminals, usually during cutscenes.

    After an hour of play I came out of it mostly just feeling kind of disappointed that it wasn’t what was described to me.

    • LTK says:

      I completely agree, the levels are just not tightly designed enough to avoid becoming frustrating during multi-step solutions. There’s too many ways to fail a puzzle even if you already know exactly how to solve it, which is a mortal sin for puzzle games.

  3. Premium User Badge

    AutonomyLost says:

    I’ll probably pick this up. Thanks for the recommendation, John.

  4. oueddy says:

    As much as I agree with the negatives, this is a nice little game for only 3 quid, so I can’t really complain!