With Halloween just a few days away, it’s a great time to play some horror games. And look what we have here: a new indie horror title called Bonbon by Aetheric Games in Edinburgh, UK, that successfully taps into those childhood fears of monsters stalking an empty house.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Bonbon is pretty much what can be described as a walking simulator, similar to games like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch. I realize this is not everyone’s cup of tea, so keep this in mind when you’re deciding whether to purchase Bonbon. (Personally, I love walking simulators, or in fact any narrative-driven experience.) Second, this is not a long game, and I completed it in just over 30 minutes, taking my time and exploring everything I could. I don’t mind short games if they offer an engaging narrative and if the price reflects the length – and Bonbon has both of these covered (it’s a snip at $2.99).
So with that out of the way, let’s have a look at the game. I found Bonbon to be an extremely creepy experience – it doesn’t rely on jump scares but rather on developing an overwhelming feeling of tension and unease of what might happen. I played this game at night in a dark room, and it gave me a deeply uneasy feeling that lasted long after I had completed the game. You control a very young child (most probably a toddler), and everything in the game is experienced from this perspective, including the slow movement and the baby-like sounds made when talking. The sluggish controls could be frustrating for some, but this is clearly a design choice, as it contributes to the feeling of being a defenseless toddler.
The game is set in what would appear to be the 1980s, and as I was born in 1982 I saw a lot of familiar things, such as the dog in the picture below – I remember having that exact same Fisher-Price toy.
These elements contribute vastly to the feelings of unease, offering the player little bits of safe familiarity that intensify the threatening uncertainty of what lurks in the house.
Without spoiling too much, the antagonist of the game is Bonbon, a giant gerbil-like creature who stalks the player in a variety of situations. The game cleverly taps into the childhood idea of an imaginary monster coming to get you, with suitably dread-inducing results.
You never see any adults, but you do hear the voices of your mother and father – both parts are very well voice acted, and this adds to the feeling of isolation.
I found Bonbon to be an extremely creepy and unsettling experience, exactly what I want from a horror game. So would I recommend it? Most definitely: it’s the perfect game to play if you have 30 minutes free very late at night on Halloween, just before bed. For the very low price it offers bundles of creepiness and is definitely worth a try, especially if you were a small child in the 1980s. So pop over to Steam and grab it. And let me leave you with one more creepy screenshot.
Guest review by KillerRobotics – check out his writing over at killerrobotics.me.
Disclosure statement: Review code for this game was provided by developer Pixeljam. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.