Full Bore is a game made of 100% recycled products. It’s a 2D puzzle platformer that borrows mechanics from other notable indie games and all but tapes them together to create its own experience. However, instead of feeling fresh and original as it intended, the end result is a game with tired ideas that never forms its own unique identity.
Essentially, Full Bore is about a small boar working to pay off a great deal of debt after a mishap involving a mine field and a vault full of gems. There’s a deeper storyline that unfolds the more one progresses through the game, although much of that story is delivered through cryptic written logs, emails, and journal entries. It’s commendable that they decided to give the story a bit more depth, but its insistence on being comedic typically crumbles, dialogue with many of the characters isn’t all that engaging, and it feels excessive. By the time it was over, I couldn’t help but feel that simply running with the initial setup of a boar working to pay off debt instead of trying to weave in bigger plot elements would have been much more concise and interesting.
Gameplay itself is a patchwork of mechanics pulled from other games. The mines are filled with various blocks of unique properties, and collecting gems feels eerily similar to that of SteamWorld Dig. A rewind mechanic similar to Braid’s allows players to backtrack through moves in order to reset failed puzzles, and objectives are given to the player through a painful series of mundane fetch quests. It’s nothing more than a series of “Go there and pick up object A,” or “Go to that place and talk to person B,” over, and over, and over again. When combined with a directionless open world, frustrating puzzle design that is neither satisfying nor intuitive, and an unreadable map, the rare moments of satisfaction are sadly few and far between.
Full Bore is also a game without much incentive. After the first initial stages, the player has been given all the abilities necessary to navigate the mines. There are no items to buy, no upgrades to be earned, and no new abilities to be learned. If there’s literally nothing to be gained by way of gameplay other than progressing through its paper-thin story, what then is my reason to continue playing? Never did I feel empowered, never was I anxious to backtrack to an older area to try out new gear or abilities, and never did I actually feel like I was making any meaningful progress.
Somehow, the game feels like it’s missing one key part of a puzzle that would have tied everything together and made it infinitely more interesting. Had it used a Metroidvania-like construct, backtracking wouldn’t have felt like such a slog. Had it allowed me to collect gems and spend them on items to make traversal easier, I would have felt much more inclined to explore the mine. Instead, its vast open world feels empty, completely directionless, and uninteresting.
Full Bore combines the familiar, often pulling ideas from other games and calling them its own. That’s not to say that it’s downright bad, however. At times, it actually feels great to play, and it’s hard to deny that there’s not a small amount of heart poured into it. Mining through blocks can be satisfying, animations are well detailed and amusing, and I’d be lying if I claimed to not sometimes enjoy running around in the mines and collecting gems. The problem is that it doesn’t feel new or unique, instead combining key mechanics from more successful games together into an experience that never becomes anything particularly significant.