Who is a special little girl? Why, you are. Yes you are. Now get ready to fight for your life.
BOOR is a side scrolling platformer in which players take control of a mysterious, mute girl. An accident which destroys the spaceship she is on leaves her stranded on Eden. She finds herself entangled in the struggle between the people of Eden and the computer hell-bent on their destruction, BOOR.
Killer robots, psychopathic humans and traps are all intent on her demise. Luckily she has a secret up here sleeve. At will she can send her physical body to sleep, and project another version of herself. This projection can do everything her physical body can; run, jump and operate objects. But this projection also has the ability to pass through some obstacles her physical self cannot.
Anyone who has played Braid, Limbo or even Clockwork will instantly recognise the game play of BOOR. The standard run and jump mechanics are there. And much like these other titles, there is a level of planning and puzzle solving to each stage. However, unlike the aforementioned titles, BOOR seems much simpler, much more laid back.
The puzzles are interesting, but I would hardly consider them taxing. I cannot recall a time when I grew frustrated with a puzzle sequence. They are quite plainly laid out, often with important elements marked or indicated in some way. Some puzzles may stump the player the first few attempts, but those “ah ha!” moments to solve them come quite quickly.
Boss fights are scattered throughout the game. This is the only area of game play where I feel BOOR loses some of its charm. While some boss fights are fast and enjoyable, others are tediously drawn out and predictable. The game becomes bogged down in these moments, and all the impetus the players has build up over the levels is drained.
It took me a little under three hours to complete the entire game, which is around 90 levels. So it is quite quick to get through. And that isn’t a bad thing. BOOR is generally quite succinct and direct in what it is trying to do, in both game play and story, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. There are collectable cogs, and a time trial mode, so once you finish there are some opportunities to revisit. If you so wish.
The story BOOR tells, and the setting it uses, isn’t really anything original or new. A lot of it is left ambiguous, or lets players interpret events themselves. But the generic, cookie-cutter arc of the story doesn’t really promote deep investment by the player.
On the other hand, the visuals are unique and well conceived. An obviously conscious decision has been made to limit the palette to white, grey and red. The artwork style, while very simple, is an interesting way to communicate the main characters youth and innocence. In many respects, the visual style validates and authenticates the staid storytelling, making the narrative compelling not by interesting writing, but by unexpectedly subverting the typical use of visual tropes and stereotypes.
Inclusion of sound is minimal, but well used. Electronic musical scores punctuate each level, and sound effects accompany only a handful of environmental objects. This targeted use of audio cues makes it easy to understand what has happened, and why.
SUMMARY: I wasn’t sure what to expect from BOOR, but was pleasantly surprised by the game that I found. While it hardly breaks the mold with game play or narrative, it absolutely nails it with tone and visuals. This is one of those cases where a picture really does say a thousand words. This, along with puzzles that aren’t too taxing, makes BOOR quite a relaxing game to play. Even while laser toting robots are trying to vaporise you.