Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure - Chapter 1 (iOS) Review

By Lex Firth 03.03.2018

Review for Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure - Chapter 1 on iOS

Point-and-click games may be seeing something of a resurgence of late, but they constitute a remarkably easy genre to pigeonhole - so many are set in either medieval, old-timey locations or futuristic, dystopian settings; it's rare to find one that takes place in a more contemporary locale. That's what makes the subversive Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure so immediately appealing, with the bold move of taking inspiration from reggae music and the artists around it. Does it live up to its promising concept?

To put it simply, though: no. Bolt Riley is a brilliant idea on paper, but a flawed execution makes it a real disappointment. It starts off promisingly enough, with a tutorial taking place backstage at a reggae show that Bolt and his friends, Smokey and Jamar, are due to play at. It does a decent job of introducing each character and their respective personalities - hidden amongst a couple of simplistic puzzles and a few too many shoehorned-in references to "the herb" - as well as hinting at the game's main mechanic, the "light of inspiration," which allows Bolt to influence other people in different ways.

Screenshot for Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure - Chapter 1 on iOS

The cracks in the game's veneer are apparent even from this early point, however. Visually, Bolt Riley is a mess to look at, with every sprite seemingly drawn in a different resolution. Zoomed in, most character art is distorted and ugly, and it causes dialogue to be genuinely difficult to watch. Other sprites also fare badly in the transition from PC to mobile, with smaller (yet still relevant) objects being easy to ignore and fading into the background. The controls also suffer in this version, with some touches feeling unresponsive and a leftover pointer from the desktop version appearing at random intervals.

Following the tutorial, Bolt is dropped into a flashback where he's dared by a friend to go and steal a radio from an old man in town. This makes up the entirety of this chapter of Bolt Riley, and it's over almost as soon as it begins, containing four areas to explore and five characters to interact with. There are two major puzzles: one that sees Bolt opening a window by tying a rope to it, and one dialogue-based conundrum (the overwhelmingly obtuse solution: go through every dialogue option once - there are around ten - before Bolt gains the ability to use the "inspiration" feature to move on).

Screenshot for Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure - Chapter 1 on iOS

To call Bolt Riley short is an understatement. A first attempt is unlikely to stretch beyond half an hour and any repeat attempt can be taken care of in just over five minutes. Those repeat attempts may well be necessary, too, as the game is in the habit of forcing the player to restart the entire thing due to a number of game-breaking glitches.

For one thing, it's a relief that this can be completed in one sitting, as it's actually impossible to reload a saved game - pressing "Continue" on the main menu does attempt to bring back the save file, but inexplicably freezes upon fading in. What's even more concerning is that this is a glitch that hearkens back to the game's PC release almost two years ago in Early Access form, so it's unforgivable that the developer has chosen to release this port in the same state.

Screenshot for Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure - Chapter 1 on iOS

However, most annoying is a glitch that actually stops the player from progressing past the final area of the game. In this review playthrough, there were multiple attempts to enter the last location (a hole under the aforementioned old man's house), but each time - and after having to start a new save file each time, thanks to the freezing glitch - the game would fade to black and not fade back in.

Bolt Riley is a game that shows promise: the voice acting stands up to scrutiny, there is a second and third chapter in the works - although after two years since the first chapter's initial release, it's unknown when those will actually be available - and there are some decent ideas here, such as the "inspiration" function that simply aren't put into practice in this release. However, for a game with such a lack of content and polish, it's impossible to recommend it in this state.

Screenshot for Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure - Chapter 1 on iOS

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

It's refreshing to see a developer try something new with a genre as old as the point-and-click, but for all its charm, Bolt Riley, A Reggae Adventure is severely lacking in both style and substance. It's clear that the developer has grander designs for the full package, and there are indeed a few glimmers of that in this release, but this first chapter is so unpolished and poorly optimised that it has Cubed3 fearing for the rest of the story.

Developer

Adventure Mob

Publisher

Adventure Mob

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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