Booty gets a bad rap. Of course I am talking about Pirate’s Booty: gold. In fiction, Pirates are cool. And they always have a Booty, or treasure, that is sought after. And every time we read about or, let’s be real, see Pirate’s treasure in a movie, it’s always cursed in some way. It brings bad luck, it gets you killed, or in some cases it won’t let you die. But people are still trying to find it. One of the latest in this line of story-telling is Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town (“Willy Morgan”). In fact, it is very obvious Willy Morgan is an homage to another very popular “cursed pirate treasure” series, The Secret of Monkey Island.
Viewed from the third person perspective, Willy Morgan is nothing short of your traditional point and click adventure game. Playing as the titular character, we learn that your parents are somewhat famous adventurers. Your mother is away on an archeological mission, while your father disappeared under mysterious circumstances a decade prior. We join our protagonist after receiving a letter from his father urging him to investigate further into his disappearance. The letter doesn’t seem to be sent recently, though, and Willy has only received it now. As any 15-year old kid would, Willy was eager to find out what happened to his father all those years ago. And this is where your adventure begins. Your first dilemma, as with most real life dilemmas, was money. And to get the money, you need to get your bicycle… which is in pieces everywhere.
There’s no doubt, Willy Morgan is an absolute gem of a game. With beautiful graphics, rapturous (but admittedly repetitive), and excellent voice acting, you will be enchanted by the game as you play. The story is familiar, but no less entertaining as you make your way through. It is shorter than I would have liked, though. As mentioned, the Monkey Island influence is obvious, if you’ve played the games. If you haven’t, you’ll miss a few homages and inside jokes, but nothing that would make the game unplayable or unenjoyable. Just like most people wear their hearts, the influences of Willy Morgan are worn on the sleeve, but it is not impactful to understanding and enjoying the experience.
The opening cinematic is akin to that of a Pixar overture, giving us an endearing view of the city in which our hero lives. But, Willy’s seemingly normal home is a stark contrast to Bone Town, which never seemed to advance as quickly as the modern world springing up around it. As soon as you enter the ominously named Dead Man Inn, you’d get the feeling you’d find Jack Sparrow as an easter egg in the background. And where’s the one guy you always see with a wooden leg? Or an eye patch. Nowhere to be found, but that’s okay. There are some attempts at modernization at the inn, and throughout the rest of the town, which is a mix of likewise eclectic assortment of archaic shops and businesses. One of the few clear attempts to bring in more modernization was the “bar” that was really an arcade with vending machines and even a 3D printer.
Sound is a finely balanced thing in Willy Morgan. The most glaring con of the game is definitely the voice acting, which is oft gauche and flat. Thankfully, our protagonist isn’t terrible and actually delivers a solid performance, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Noticed my use of the word “gauche” there? Did you need to look it up? It’s definitely a more formal word of awkward, and it is most definitely a reflection of the vocabulary throughout the game. The English is offbeat using oddly formal words in place of more common word choices. Gauche may be an extreme of what I am talking about, but I’ve always wanted to use that word in a piece. Ha!
The gameplay itself is quite enjoyable as you are meeting curious denizens of Bone Town and learning all about this crazy town in the pursuit of answers. Moving Willy around is easy with the controls being as the genre suggests, point and click. If you’ve never played a game in the genre, basically left click is the action/pick up button, and right click is loot and walk. It takes about half a minute to become familiar with, especially with the provided tutorial.
Having never heard of Willy Morgan prior to my editor sending it my way, I found myself having a lot of fun with the game. It’s a solid entry in the point-and-click adventure genre. My only points of contention would be the voice acting and that the game is comparatively short. I want to say I completed in about 6 hours, and that was with the distraction of being a single parent to 4-year old twins. Needless to say, I want to see more in this world. I believe that many will, so we can only hope to see some sort of DLC or sequel from Italian developer imaginaryLab on this one, and Bone Town is only the beginning of our adventures with Willy Morgan.
4 out of 5 stars