Preview – Full Bore: The First Dig
Full Bore was developed by just three friends who, after already completing most of the hard work, set up a successful Kickstarter campaign in order to ensure that they would have the necessary time and community feedback to create something special. Asking for just the humble amount of $12,500, probably the lowest goal I’ve seen for a Kickstarter game, the team at Whole Hog Games really went all out to build a game so polished. It’s an incredible achievement especially when considering the tiny development team, a time-frame so compact it leads me to believe that the developers don’t sleep and a small budget, compared to other similarly sized indie titles. As the game has been split into two parts to allow avid gamers to get their hands on it as soon as possible, whilst still allowing development to continue, this is just a preview of part one; Full Bore: The First Dig.
Full Bore is a 2D open world adventure/puzzle game. It’s an odd mix of genres that allows for free exploration, tonnes of secrets and the ability to move along at your own pace. Starting as either Frederick the Boar or Hildi the Sow, you are flung into the world of mining after being wrongly accused of gem theft from the vault of Full Bore Mining Co’s foreman; Gullenbursti. Forced to repay the foreman by digging for gems, questions are constantly raised when strange structures are discovered and lost under the ruins of an old world, ominous remnants from a bizarre, futuristic era are unearthed. Instead of teasing player progression with new skills or items players are naturally inclined to continue their quest, driven by their own curiosity. In Full Bore there are secrets hidden just about everywhere and being given the freedom to explore most of the map from the very beginning (provided you can find all of the hidden rooms) is kind of unnerving. I’m so used to having a specific objective or area to aim for in video games that having such free reign was a refreshing experience.
To collect gems players must solve mining puzzles, but thats is also a requirement for simply getting around and discovering new areas as the entire world is pretty much one giant puzzle split up into sections through the use of rooms. The aim of each puzzle is to create an opening or bridge from yourself to another room, area or gem using the blocks provided and some platforming. Since you can only jump up one block at a time you must manoeuvre blocks into a pathway for yourself by utilising the powers to push, ground-bash (which sends out a shockwave), dig and restart, as you can often trap yourself or make it impossible to move forward. This is really the entire gameplay, exploration and gem collecting by figuring out how to use the different block types to navigate, but it is the constant learning of how blocks can be manipulated and the strange findings throughout the game that keep Full Bore interesting until the end and even beyond, when you can backtrack to uncover anything that was missed.
The different block types make up the puzzles by exerting unique behaviours, for example only some blocks can be destroyed at a distance using the ground-bash and others are completely indestructible or can only be smashed by being dug. Some blocks fall if the block underneath them is destroyed whilst some stay in position and some blocks can cause a chain reaction to destroy all other blocks of their type around them. There are also special block types such as ‘arrow’ blocks that shoot upwards to meet you, creating a bridge as you move ahead and laser blocks, that can destroy most things in their path but need to be touching a ‘battery’ block to activate. And these are just the beginning, there are plenty more unique types to find and learn from as you progress deeper into the mines and through the different zones like the scrapyards, volcanic formations and underground caverns, each with their own unique look and puzzle styles.
The simple controls are incredibly smooth, not letting you jump off of edges easily, perfect switching between wanting to jump up onto a platform or run through it and there’s even a momentum builder when blocks of the same type are dug continuously. The character gets an increasingly big glowing blue aura that allows the same block type to be dug faster and faster until you can run straight through them to either save time digging or sometimes allowing more advanced techniques like running across crumbling areas that you would normally fall down. During the game these smooth controls are put to the test in the forms of races against time, when you must hurry through a maze of blocks or solve puzzles quickly. Even the map is simple yet still useful, showing all of the discovered rooms, how they are connected and what hidden secrets they still hold. This stops the quest for the final few treasures being a needle in a haystack job whilst still posing a challenge through the puzzles,which is perfect.
Besides the unique, fun gameplay Full Bore also looks awesome. The pixel art and animations are always nice to look at but the actual environments during certain areas of the game are outstanding and really it all comes down to the lighting. Entering a previously unexplored location you see the room is dark and would be entirely black if not for a few scattered, glowing blue crystals, pink explosive blocks and a small luminescent body of water. It’s rooms like this that actually took my breath away, they are simply beautiful and I loved playing through these areas even more just because of it. It also helps that there’s a kick-ass blues soundtrack to accompany the majestic caves. Seriously, the music is brilliant, check out one of the more prevalent tunes – The First Dig Into Hard Earth.
I really enjoyed my time with Full Bore and even went back to make sure I had one-hundred percent of the rooms, gems, lore and mysteries found, which in all took about four hours. Part two should be released later this year and will hopefully be just as long, containing another load of hidden secrets to search for, but mostly I just hope that it will shed some light on the mysterious findings and strange story. My curiosity drove me right through to the end in one sitting and even though it made me laugh, finding somebody fishing on a harbour who lets you know that ’the rest of the world is still being created’ didn’t answer any of the many, many questions I still have. Until the rest of the world is created you can check out Full Bore for yourself from their website or find more information from their Steam Greenlight page.