A couple of months ago, I reviewed the first part of Buck Bradley. It was an unusual game that had a great art style and some generally fun puzzles, but the short length and abrupt ending coupled with some pretty bad writing let the game down a bit.
Now the second (and still not the final, unfortunately) part is on the Switch, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not any improvements have been made to the experience. It is worth noting that both parts were available on Steam at the time of the original’s Switch release, so the quick turnaround needn’t be a concern here.
Many thanks to RedDeerGames for the review code.
BRADLEY OF ARABIA
Buck Bradley 2 follows on directly from the events of the first game, with Buck and his mutant girlfriend Ciroki on the way to New Milan to see if the Architect is able to cure her. The first game saw you getting the train up and running and ended as you said your goodbyes to the people left behind.
After a brief recap, the train gets hijacked by bandits on giant scorpions who capture the passengers and put them into slavery. Buck and Ciroki manage to talk their way out, but they still need to help their friends. If you think Buck has become a more likeable person since the first game, you’re in for a disappointment. Ciroki only manages to persuade Buck to help after pointing out that crossing the desert without the train will likely result in dehydration.
And so begins his preposterous journey to the Architect, as he finds a way to make a sweet old lady a bandit leader, give a bald man his self confidence back (after verbally assaulting him), and gets into a boxing match with a mutant cat.
So standard point and click adventure fare, then.
Much like the original, the gameplay remains identical. The vast majority of your time will be spent navigating each frame, picking up and using items from the inventory. NPC conversations are just as minimal as the previous game, meaning that most of the meaningful interactions will be between Buck and Ciroki. Clicking will examine objects, and double clicking will interact; it’s a really simple system and feels pretty intuitive to use. There can be an element of pixel hunting to find what things are interactable, but objects typically have a sizeable ‘hitbox’ making it relatively easy to scour each scene – it also helps that everything is all on one screen too, so there’s no wandering around aimlessly for things. At least, not as much. There are still different areas to travel between, with some frames being accessed by clicking the arrows around the edges of the screen (which are thankfully labelled this time) and others are access by clicking a certain part of an image. It’s strange having the two options, but something you get used to – even if the latter makes some screens easy to miss.
The art style remains just as great as the original, with some more interesting environments this time. The frames are also presented in a wider 16:9 frame too, making it both easier to see and far more pleasant to look at. One of my issues with the previous game was all the wasted space on the screen, so I was glad to see this get addressed. The music is also as pleasant as before, although just like before there’s not a huge variety on offer. It’s still decent enough to listen to though and I never really tired of it – I just wish there was a little bit more.
As I touched on before though, the presentation is let down by Buck and his unlikeable character. The writing still isn’t great, but the issue this time around seems to be mainly due to Buck being a detestable character. From wanting to abandon his friends to insulting everyone he meets (and Ciroki too), he really is a character that is difficult to tolerate. There’s pretty much nothing likeable about him, and he seems to be even more obnoxious in this game. Ciroki provides a nice contrast, but it doesn’t really help matters that much. The world continues to have its charm, and the environmental messages still remain, but it’s hard to care about these issues when you’re too busy despising the protagonist.
Puzzles this time around remain in a similar vein to the prior game, with most being a little bit weird but also having their own logic to them. The occasional one can be a little bit of a stretch, such as an early one that involves distracting a Hawk using a rabbt-shaped hot water bottle, but they rarely get more obscure than that. There weren’t many times I found myself without any kind of idea to proceed. More often than not, the problem was that I had missed another screen that contained what I needed. The main problem with the puzzles is the awful hint system that either tells you the solution explicitly or tells you nothing. The problem is that even when it says ‘there’s nothing left to do here’, it triggers the long wait until the hint system is available again, meaning that if you trigger it in the wrong place then you’re just left waiting.
There’s also another issue involving a major bug with the game where it can resent the screens, whilst keeping the items as they were. This means that the game wants you to re-solve the puzzles but using items that don’t exist. I also encountered another bug where the conversation with the barman didn’t allow me to ask for a drink. Both of these problems effectively made my save unbeatable and forced a restart. These issues have been logged with the development team, so hopefully they get fixed sooner rather than later.
Buck Bradley 2 is still a beautiful game with some interesting puzzles, and thankfully the story feels a little bit more conclusive this time around; however, a detestable protagonist and some game breaking bugs let the game down a bit. That being said, if you liked the first game, Buck Bradley 2 should be right up your alley.