Meet Bob, a cheerful, many tentacled alien who works in a call centre at the outer reaches of the cosmos. Unfortunately, one morning on his way to work, whilst travelling along the relative safety of the galactic equivalent of the A1, he was struck by a rogue meteor. The impact broke his spaceship apart and he plummeted towards a nearby planet, scattering bits of his spaceship across the land. This is where you take over, guide Bob around the planet, find the missing parts to his spaceship and get him to work on time. Bob Came in Pieces is a colourful little physics based puzzler from the indie developer, Ludosity Interactive and I have to admit, that there’s something good and wholesome about a game with a simple story and an odd name.
You start Chapter One with a simple, ‘get used to the controls level’. Using the cursor keys you tackle the planet and its environment, it’s easy really, think Lunar Lander but a lot more up to date. You are not left to wander around aimlessly though. Along the way you will come across big green exclamation marks, these provide valuable information about the world you are whizzing around in and the various puzzles that Bob will encounter whilst trying to piece his broken ship together.
Each of the lost pieces can be found at various intervals throughout the chapter/level and are attached to Bob’s ship via a configuration pad, which also acts as a save game and checkpoint, these crop up along the path now and then, usually and very conveniently before a puzzle. The pieces themselves come in two flavours, tools and modules. The modules look like left over plumbing parts from a B&Q skip, these can be dragged onto your ship and resemble pipes, U-bends and suchlike.
You can attach the tools, which are rockets, tractor-beam-like grabbers and pushers onto the modules to help you overcome the puzzles. But each puzzle requires a particular setup of spaceship before you can progress any further into the chapter. For example, to push a boulder out of the way, requires you to nudge it aside, but the gap between the wall and the boulder is very small. That being the case, jump on a configure pad and add a few pipes to Bob’s expandable ship, this allows you to poke them through the gap and push the boulder away.
Some puzzles need a little muscle, so attach an extra rocket booster and power into the blockage, however, beware as you add bits and bobs to your ship, it can easy become overbalanced and very difficult to control, so you have to think about making the additions ‘fit for purpose’. A great little feature of this game is, when you have a particular design that is ideal for say, ramming into a pile of crates, you can save that design and reload it, via the configure pad, whenever you come across the same kind of puzzle again. By the end of the game you’ll have a, kind of, Swiss Army ship of various designs. The idea is simple, but immensely fun. Guide Bob into the portal at the end of the level to progress to the next chapter, which undoubtedly becomes harder the further you delve into this bizarre and cartoon like environment.
Unfortunately, the game only lasts for fourteen chapters and can be completed in a few hours, but don’t worry, the fun isn’t over yet. Added to the main menu is a Virtual Reality mode which contains six events where you race against time to reach the portal. All the lost ship parts are there to help you and finishing gold can lead to an unlocked achievement, if you purchase the game via Steam.
The graphics are beautifully drawn and the atmospheric sound is delightful. The physics hold up pretty well, but it is possible to become stuck, especially if you are trying out a slightly unbalanced ship. A powerful rocket boost won’t pull you free and you seem to be caught on a rock by the appendages you have added, but thankfully, a quick press of the ‘Enter’ key takes you back to the last configure pad so you can at least try again. Another worry is, although it is a cheap game, its lasting appeal may dry up very quickly. I hope that the extra VR mode can add some extra gameplay by way of downloadable content, or perhaps a collection of user’ levels? I guess that may come with time, but until then have as much fun as you can with Bob.
Overall, for a game that only costs a few quid from Steam, Bob Came in Pieces is a great little addition to anyone’s collection. It’s a game that’s wonderfully good fun, and the ability to open it up in windowed mode means it is ideal for those times when you are supposed to be working. So keep the spreadsheet in the background and play Bob, when the boss makes their way around, just Alt-Tab.