“Bullhockey” is a sprawling parser-based game in which the protagonist attemtps to retrieve his clothes after they’re scattered around town by his girlfriend.

Gameplay: The puzzles generally involve helping the town’s residents to obtain useful inventory items. The game is a realistic, slice-of-life style one, and thus most the puzzles involve inventory and set pieces, rather than more exotic mechanics (e.g., magic systems, complicated machines, etc.) While I’m usually a fan of longer games, the scope of this one hurts it. It’s a scavenger hunt game (i.e., one in which the aim is to collect a variety of treasures or other useful items, rather than some specific plot-relevant goal), and the blandness of the goal and setting make it difficult to sustain interest in the game over the long series of puzzles. The size of the setting also makes navigation a bit frustrating at time, which cuts into my enjoyment of the game. 6/10.

Mechanics: Some of the puzzles are a bit opaque, recalling some of the more esoteric puzzles in the Infocom games. This level of mild unfairness suits the game’s puzzle-hunt genre, but a hint system or some more clues within the game itself would be useful. The puzzles are also largely unmotivated, with useful objects are scavenger hunt items rewarded for solving apparently unrelated puzzles. As annoyed as I am at reviewers who sneer at games focused on puzzles rather than narrative, I would have enjoyed the game more if it had strong characters or plots to motivate its puzzles. 5/10.

Presentation: The protagonist’s characterization is stronger than most puzzle-based games’, and it’s effectively shown in his dealings with the town’s residents. It’s not a particularly sympathetic one, but it does add a bit of color to the puzzles. The text is solid overall, but it’s a bit lackluster given the length of the game. 5/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You want a puzzle-based game that’s longer than most others in the competition.

Score: 5

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