Four Boy Scouts are on a lovely camping trip, enjoying an adult-free evening reading comic books and eating perfectly toasted campfire marshmallows, when one of the boys is abducted by aliens. Meanwhile, across the galaxy, two alien misfits crewing a broken-down old ship decide to sneak aboard an Umarian Abductor Ship to steal much-needed spaceship parts. Intergalactic hilarity ensues.
Bik is a point-and-click (er, tap) adventure, offering all the best of the point-and-click genre: There are piles of bizarre items to be picked up and then used in unusual ways, loveable loser characters in the tradition of Guybrush Threepwood and Roger Wilco, snarky flavortext, bizarre ways to get yourself killed, and a twisted, dramatic adventure plot.
Like the old Sierra games, it’s quite easy to experiment and get yourself killed in Bik, but the game keeps from being too punishing by autosaving right before performing an action that might lead to certain death. As I played, I grew quite frightened of seeing the autosave screen…
Knowing that Bik will autosave before character death does encourage players to try ridiculous actions, as well as to try firing Ammet’s blaster at random objects. Some scenes still needed to be repeated, either due to bad luck (avoiding the random approach of an alien sensor, for example) or because it took me several times to figure out my objective. Repeating scenes doesn’t feel like punishment or filler, but it doesn’t feel like great game design, either.
Switching between Bik and Ammet as playable characters, players will explore the galaxy and solve puzzles by finding bizarre items and applying them in creative ways. In new scenes, it can be hard to tell what is environment and what’s activatable, but fortunately there’s an eye icon to let you know which items are interactive.. This keeps players from frustratedly tapping an intriguing piece of environment, allowing players more time to focus on the business of solving scifi dilemmas with a Boy Scout’s backpack and assorted space junk.
Bik uses blocky, bold graphics for a retro effect. I particularly liked a dramatic close-up on Bik’s pixelated face early on. I find that 8-bit art, or simple retro art in general, can be an overused crutch for small-studio development, but in Bik, the simple, bold game art was a perfect counterpart for a goofy sci-fi adventure, with retro point-and-click interface.
Throughout the game, Bik’s cutscenes dragged. I’m usually a fan of narrative cutscenes in games, but somehow these went on too long, and focused my attention on how unimpressive the graphics are. Good cutscenes advance the plot, while slow, unpolished cutscenes remind the player of all the other things they could be doing instead. I’m going to say that I enjoyed the adventure gameplay so much that I didn’t want to be delayed, yeah, that sounds a lot better that saying the cutscenes are dead boring.
Naturally, Boy Scout Bik and the two alien misfits, Ammet and Tetanen, must join forces, not only to escape the Umarian abductors but later to stop an evil corporation from taking over the world. You’ll need to sweet-talk a murderous ‘bot, determine which situations call for a blaster (Ok, fine, I blasted everything in sight and was not disappointed by snarky death screens), creatively repair a spaceship, and save the galaxy. It’s a collection sci-fi tropes, but it works in a zany way.
Besides the point-and-click adventure, Bik offers a few minigame puzzles to solve. These minigames ranged from the standard match-the-wires to the completely confusing. Figuring out the interface and the goal just isn’t a fun puzzle. I’m not a huge fan of retro arcade-ish games, either. (I know that this puts me in a tiny minority, but “click really fast” or “tap at the right time” just isn’t a compelling game mechanic for me.) Fan of nostalgia or arcades or even fans of tapping really fast will enjoy these.
Overall, Bik is a goofy, campy point-and-click adventure, in the best tradition of using random items in bizarre ways to solve puzzles, but the game is unfortunately hampered by awkward interludes of minigames and cutscenes. Without revealing too much of the zany storyline, the game ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, making it clear that the developers intend a sequel of further space adventures. I hope the second will retain the zany sci-fi charm found in Bik, but with a bit more polish.
Hardcore Droid: Reviews of the Worst, Best Android Games, and Everything in-Between
Is it Hardcore?
Save the goofy galaxy in this unpolished but charming sci-fi point-and-click.