BONK: An Interactive Exposition

Creator: UbersawMedic

Average Rating
9.4 / 10
Average Difficulty
61.9 / 100
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Tags:

Adventure (11) Needle (8) Gimmick (10) Boss (8) Secrets (9) Long (1) Story (2) Puzzle (1) Lore (1) Advanture (1)

Screenshots

  • by Spazm
  • by UbersawMedic
  • by UbersawMedic
  • by UbersawMedic

Creator's Comments:

UbersawMedic [Creator]
(Current version: 1.2.5)
Welcome to BONK! This gimmick-puzzly adventure game is my first big proper project, so hope you enjoy it!

Features include:
-6 full-fledged stages! Each one divided in two halves, first one aiming around 45 difficulty, second one aiming around 60
-4 endings
-Plenty of secrets, from the optional red coins to [CENSORED]

Recorded a dev commentary with insights from development too, at https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1847401694

Main changes from previous big version:
-Gravity Station rework
-Quick travel room after beating ending B or further for easier backtracking
-Checkpoint on final boss
-Plenty of QOL changes
-Red coins now have a (small) point
(For a more elaborate changelog read the itch.io Update pages and the patchnotes.txt included with each version of the game)

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[5] Likes
Rating: N/A       Difficulty: N/A
Mar 14, 2023

25 Reviews:

MrDobryiKot
I swear, it's easier to lift the bar in a real gym than in this damn game.

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[9] Likes
Rating: 9.0 90       Difficulty: N/A
Mar 16, 2023
Cosmoing
It's been a while since I've unintentionally played a fangame for longer than I expected to, which says a lot about how engaging this game is. There's so much to discover along every nook and cranny and it all just works really well together. Tons to enjoy here, and most of the small issues I had are supposedly fixed by the newer versions so there's really nothing stopping me from recommending this one.

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Tagged as: Adventure Needle Gimmick Boss Secrets
[5] Likes
Rating: 9.0 90       Difficulty: 65 65
Mar 14, 2023
Verve
Also available on https://iwverve.wordpress.com/2024/01/02/bonk-an-interactive-exposition/

# Introduction
Being interesting is ultimately BONK's greatest accomplishment. It's varying amounts of polish never stop reminding you you're playing a fangame, and some of its gameplay decitions can come off somewhat amateurish, but the game so confidently makes up for it in ambition and amount of thought. It sprawls in the kind of way you can not plan out in pre-production. It keeps growing and it does so in new ways everytime. With how fundamentally the game comes across inspired by Escape the Manor, it is wonderful that that is where it succeeds most.

It is noteworthy how foundationally committed to a concept the game is. I honestly can not think of a game whose gameplay is so thoroughly shaped by its premise on such a large scale. I find BONK's gimmicks rather regularly flawed in practice, with some aspect of their core design in a way I would not let past the idea stage. The game serves then as a counterexample, making a case for the variety you get if you truly commit to exploring a concept, instead of worrying about choosing the perfect few ideas. When taken with its combining of its own gimmicks, BONK makes its gameplay core seem effortless. The second halves of stages feel obvious in retrospect, but I don't think it's fair to take them as such. More than anything I wonder what "obvious" ideas I miss in my work.

# The playthrough
The tutorial rooms serve as a nice microcosm of the expectation trolling I'm obsessed with. When you do eventually enter the room for a second time, you're not doing it because you expect the room to be differenct, the player briefly completely loses their footing. Capped off with entering the room a third time, this time actively curious if the rabbit hole runs deeper, this loop of setting up expectations and violently erasing them is consistently the most memorable experience I get from fangames. This isn't exclusive to puzzles - Not Another Needle Game pulls this at least twice, Crimson Needle 3 understands this as well.

I can't not wonder if the game could have kept the second stage halves a secret for longer. I expect I would have preferred the reveal and resulting pacing more if the combination stages only became available after you beat all the originals. It doesn't add up to much, but it's nice to consider both options.

It feels so minor yet so intriguing how every stage is presented as a secret on its corresponding exposition room. This game's got a good grasp on making you feel smart even when you didn't necessarily have to put in that much work. The narration is a cute bit of effort spent in a very unexpected place.

## Main stages
The glass block stage might be the one I think of the most fondly. It feels like it doesn't exhaust itself, even while the second half is longer than the first, it feels like it drags less than other stages can. The timer never actually being difficult is noteworthy in the fangame space, where similar resources tend to get optimized more strictly. The screen where you circle around and break increasingly smaller glass blocks is beautifully elegant and satisfying. The bosses are cute, the framing of the whole stage is nice, going upside down backwards through the first half is incredible. I'm glad the stage is positioned to be presumably the most common first stage.

I have tremendous respect for starting the arrow block stage by not putting it in the game. Genuinely curious about the thought process that led to that. Somewhat unfortunately I do think that O, or however much you interact with them in this stage, is slightly underwhelming compared to the potential that it inspires, though I can see the amount of effort required spiking pretty rapidly. The actual platforming features a rather unfortunate amount of waiting, the second screen starts with a rather bland walk across the screen, the very next screen starts with even more explicit stalling. A similar occasional lack of gameplay polish shows up a bunch throughout the game, it's something that's worth trying to be better about, since I can't really find a reason to excuse leaving it in. I appreciate the stage having one of the more inventive gimmick synergies, taking the time to introduce more behvior than just the two gimmicks existing side by side.

The premise of the gravity block stage is wonderful. I'm not sure if the space theme ends up justifying the large large rooms which drag the gameplay down, judging by how strongly I prefer the closed single screen rooms. The fast speed just tends to lead to a couple too many reaction time deaths. It's interesting how many gimmicks this stage ends up running with - high speed and teleporting are both unrelated to the game premise, which in turn with the vibe makes the stage feel the most like its own isolated game. I think if similar happened across more stages, I would be talking about this as a lack of focus and as a negative. The second half mostly continues the trend of going too fast and barely keeping it together.

The atomic blocks stage is very respectably clean - the design setup of platforming around a gimmick and its counter (radioactive killers and coolant) feels like a nice compact setup for traditional fangame level design. The second half loses some of that elegance and involves a decent amount of waiting, but the presentation definitely makes for the most complete feeling stage.

The gym is a gym. There is a gym in this game. You go to a gym. Multiple even. The pool is more annoying to get into than to get through, which I suppose is realistic. This happens in a gym. You have to understand how gyms do not appear in fangames. Yet here we are! The mashing sucks. It also happens in a gym! It's a lot.

(But like just because you dress up your content it doesn't stop being that content and mashing doesn't suddenly become excusable, this also applies rather broadly)

The slime stage feels like the odd one out, though I suppose that's mostly the boss legitimizing the gimmick as the plunger substitute. I do unfortunately find said gimmick not fun enough to be bad at to be interested in getting good at it. I wonder to what extent that is because of a mild feeling that the saves are on both the longer and harder side. The amount of waiting inherent to the gimmick's design doesn't quite help either. I greatly appreciate the jump buffering for the heavy lifting it does.

## Lategame
The final stage is the one part of the game I don't really have much interesting to say about. It's the longest saves and the most clunky the game gets. If I had to diagnose this as one issue, it would be that making a recap stage out of all of your gimmicks can only handle so many gimmicks before your platforming becomes soup.

The boss fight is curiously close to being great. It's surely the greatest puzzle fight I can think of, yet it comes short of properly committing to the idea in a consistently enjoyable way. The more you understand that you're meant to solve the fight, the more the skill based deaths feel unnecessary. A somewhat dubious time, but also easily one of the most inspiring pieces of content in the game.

## Postgame
BONK has several layers of secrets available at once. I think this ultimately is the route to choose, as letting the player juggle multiple options at once seems to soften the blow from getting stuck on a single point. Overall the game doesn't actually come of as that dense with secrets. The game is absolutely sprawling, and that just leaves too many rooms with no twist beyond their original platforming. I suppose it's good to note the distinction between the optional challenge style of red coins, and the more cryptic puzzles that make up everything else. That variety is something I'd like to explicitly remember as a designer.

# Closing thoughts
Leftover thoughts! More than one textbox style per game? How? Why? I'm genuinely happy you did this. Fast travel is cool and awesome and should not be locked behind final boss. The extent to which the hub fills in with stuff over time is wonderful. Cool game!!

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[4] Likes
Rating: N/A       Difficulty: N/A
Jan 2, 2024
PlutoTheThing
This review is based on getting all of the endings in the current version of the game.

I really have no words to describe the majority of this game, it's so creative, so clever, so unique, so funny, so interesting, basically every good word I've ever used to describe a fangame is relevant here, except maybe difficult. The game is loaded with lots of charm, mystery, intrigue, and memorable moments which make you truly wanna seek out what's there. The core of the game is gimmicky platforming, which is done very well, the mechanics at play here are fun to learn about, use, and master. There's the occasional boss to spice things up, and extremely lovable character in the form of O, and the whole thing truly feels one of a kind, even in spite of it wearing it's manor inspirations with pride. Essentially a perfect game, I have no meaningful complaints about it, it's just that good.

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[3] Likes
Rating: 10.0 100       Difficulty: 55 55
Oct 2, 2023
LightPotato
Very cool game! This game's packed with creative gimmicks and level design is well executed. My favorite was slime block, that reminds me of dream blocks in Celeste but a bit wackier. Really appreciate the input delay here, the platforming segments in that stage was especially fun to execute.

Personally I wasn't a fan of some of the lengthier saves (such as a save with huge glass blocks, final stage saves where you switch blocks to pass lasers; they felt kinda repetitive and unforgiving), but not much of an issue.

Overall, great game with a lot of stuffs to explore.

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[3] Likes
Rating: 9.0 90       Difficulty: 60 60
Mar 24, 2023