Available On: PC (Steam, GOG)
Classic adventure game series of the 90s helped define computer gaming for an entire generation. Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town draws heavily from the Curse of Monkey Island series to create a competent, yet ultimately forgettable, modern Point and Click Adventure.
Willy is the teenage son of a pirate-obsessed archaeologist, tracing their family all the way back to the infamous Henry Morgan. On the tenth anniversary of his father’s mysterious disappearance, he receives a post-marked letter from his dad, setting off a quest that takes him to nearby Bone Town as he searches for answers, and perhaps some buried treasure.
In case you’ve managed to miss one of the most intuitive genres in gaming, you’ll be searching screens, talking to folks, collecting items, and using those items to solve puzzles. Willy’s house acts as a tutorial level as I collect pieces of the bike to travel to Bone Town, where the bulk of the story and gameplay directs me around town finding pieces of a map.
The story structure works well, and I appreciate having the entire town open from the very beginning. Not to mention the very convenient fast-travel map. It’s clear early on approximately where the different map pieces are located as I talk to different residents and explore different businesses, like the abandoned amusement park, the music store, and the church.
The modernized real-world setting is one rarely explored in adventure gaming, and unfortunately makes Bone Town a bit dull. Any attempts at humor, which is rare, mostly falls flat. Most of the LucasArts adventure games were known for their humorous dialogue, exotic settings, and exaggerated art style, but Willy Morgan leans more toward an earnest detective adventure. Willy himself is a nice character, and all the voice acting is lovely, but the predictable story and straight-laced NPCs lack panache.
One of the most important aspects of any adventure game are the puzzles, and that’s where Willy Morgan shines brightest. Puzzles are neither overly simplistic nor obtuse. I rarely got stuck, and when I did I still had a vague sense of what I needed to be doing (in one case it was forgetting to activate a machine after filling it with fuel).
Thanks to the ability to mark interactive objects, I was never stuck searching a screen for items, though I would’ve preferred a simple highlighting over the unattractive bullseye. On the other hand, each scene has less than a handful of things to interact with, and the post-town climactic sequence feels criminally short and underdeveloped. Adventure games rarely last longer than ten hours, but Willy Morgan comes up on the shorter end at around five hours.
Willy Morgan has not been rated by the ESRB. I played most of the adventure with my eight year-old and had a fun time together. Willy is an optimistic, precocious hero, and the simple story draws from classic kid and teen adventure films like The Goonies.
With full voice acting, modern visuals, and superb puzzle design, Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town is a commendable take on classic Point and Click Adventure games, while falling well short of the true classics.