I can’t recall a game where I was given control of a boar. A pig, maybe. I’m pretty sure The Lion King game for the SNES gave me control of Pumbaa, but he’s a warthog. Kind of similar right? Full Bore shuns decades of gaming character conventions and puts players in control of the majestic boar. And how does one incorporate such a noble beast into a game? By boring of course.
Boaring or boring, the joke isn’t lost on developer Whole Hog Games. This is a game where players control a male or female boar. After falling a ridiculous and laughable amount of time through a hole in the ground, the journey begins deep in an underground dig site. As a boar, players have the ability to “drill” through rocks and soil with their snout and tusks. But there are harder pieces of earth that just can’t be destroyed.
Gameplay in Full Bore requires your selected boar to dig out pathways to reach doors, collectibles or higher and lower ground. Though lacking a traditional jump, the boar can create a kind of staircase and climb block over block. Early in the game this concept is quite easy to grasp. Most platforms are already in place and require little manipulation.
As players explore the depths more, they discover sand-like blocks that crumble under the boar’s weight, lasers that can blast through hard rocks but require batteries to fire, and even blocks that automatically raise up whenever the boar comes close. Challenges are simple at first because only one or two types of blocks are involved. Further in, it gets a little more complicated.
Rather than relying on knee-jerk reactions, puzzles in Full Bore are more methodical. Upon entering a new area, players are advised to scan the room using the arrow keys or consult their map. A section usually isn’t just an up or down affair and secrets can be discovered in either direction. Drilling through the wrong block isn’t cause for concern either. Within minutes of starting the game, the boars are given an “ability” that allows them to rewind time. While not as crazy as it sounds, it merely gives players a way to backtrack and rethink the puzzle. Further into the game, it becomes a crucial tool for survival.
Getting lost in Full Bore is fairly easy. From the onset, very little direction is given. Your tiny boar is forced to dig after ending up in a tunneling company. The boar in charge thinks you’ve stolen from him and demands payback. Players know they need to dig for bright blue gems hidden underground but they don’t know where to start.
It sounds confusing and it can be for those assuming that a big red arrow will eventually come down to say “go here.” But deep in this massive underground world are tons of secret rooms and puzzles–they just need to be discovered. Similar to Fez, one room can connect to a series of rooms that also branch out into other rooms. All these caves have connections, but the puzzle is figuring out how to get to them.
I found myself initially baffled at how to progress in Full Bore. Thinking I needed to fall down an elevator shaft that may or may not have been the central hub, I tried multiple cave entrances. These led to workable puzzles and some dead ends. Assuming there was more to it, I took my boar and searched every possible nook and cranny. That dark square hidden behind some dirt? It looked like any sort of platform but was actually another cave entrance.
Opportunities like this exist throughout the game. What looks like an inaccessible section might just be a hidden entrance away. Still, this obtuse way of exploration and puzzle solving does have its moments of difficulty. Platforming sections will still leave players scratching their heads and backtracking often. Being bested by a laser puzzle several times only to figure it out after revisiting is common. Being so open-ended, many forward thinking players might assume that some tool or ability will unlock later to assist them. It’s a fair thought but most puzzles beg for a couple tries before completely giving up.
The First Dig
Currently, Full Bore’s first half, “The First Dig” is available. It’s this first part that should have most players fully hooked. From an audio/visual standpoint, the game seems to have everything together. The dark and moody pixel art shoots for simplistic. It’s able to create a distinct palette that clearly visualizes the world and puzzles.
Boars are animated just enough to give off their own personality. Their eyes bulge when teetering on a high platform and the way they bash their heads to dig is just funny. Even without words, the NPCs all feel distinct due to their clever design. Music is done by The Adjective Plural Noun and provides an oddly calming soundtrack that is part blues, part rock. As a service, the name of the track playing is displayed whenever entering a new section.
Full Bore is planned for release on Steam this spring. Players should expect it sometime in late April or early May. No price has been announced.
Part One is currently available on Whole Hog Games’ website. Anyone who purchases it will receive Part Two when it launches at no additional cost.
For a look at Full Bore in action, check out the video below.
Full Bore Trailer