Follow the game developers behind this amazing upcoming game at their websites and social media!
Also, try BUCK’s free demo on Steam or add BUCK to your wishlist to get all updates on the game!
BUCK – A game that was first introduced to me through our PAX East 2017 trip at the Indie Megabooth! The name is quite simple and nothing flashy, but their booth at PAX caught my eye. So, I found myself playing BUCK. A 2D side-scrolling action and adventure game. Afterwards, I had a quick conversation with one of the game developers and producer – Gal Kfir. It didn’t take long for me to realize the amount of passion that has gone into developing this game and the love for games in Gal’s voice. Was the game just as simple and plain as its name? Was Gal’s passion for games accurately reflected in BUCK? Time to find out! Please keep in mind BUCK is a work-in-progress and they are still tweaking the game and expanding it every day.
BlueBall Score: 22.5 out of 25 balls
Speaking of Pat, let’s jump into the feel of the game. BUCK is set in a post-apocalyptic era where you play as a dog (BUCK) trying to adapt, survive, and most importantly, find a girl named Jodie. Just to clarify, all characters in the game are animals and most of them are, of course, dogs. BUCK nails the apocalyptic feel perfectly. Throughout the game, you must scavenge resources on your missions and use those resources to craft varying items, that include: weapon upgrades, consumables to get your health back, and more. Furthermore, you only had a limited number of inventory slots so you may be forced to decide to pick up a consumable item for health or a crafting material. So, there was an element of strategy and planning incorporated. Finally, your health doesn’t regenerate without consuming items that heal you. Overall, these factors were blended perfectly to provide a realistic apocalyptic feel to the game.
Ok, I MUST mention this. At PAX, Gal informed me that the character of ‘BUCK’ was modeled after his dog in real life. So, I couldn’t help but to keep that in the back of my mind as I was playing BUCK. And, I could see that passion and emotion in the game itself. But, we will get into that a little later.
Overall, the gameplay was phenomenal. Simple, easy controls coupled with a realistic interpretation of a post-apocalyptic time lead this section to receive a perfect 5/5 balls.
Ok, ok. Sorry. I slipped into my Ron Jeremy persona. Anyway, back to the campaign of BUCK. One of my fears is that BUCK would not have an actual storyline or plot. Typically, arcade games are meant to be fun and that is it. But, BUCK had a story, background, and plot.
How was the plot though? Just because there WAS one, doesn’t mean it was good… There is my infamous imaginary friend again! The plot was surprisingly deep and complex; especially for an indie and arcade-style of game. As mentioned in previous sections, the primary objective is made clear in the beginning of the game. You (BUCK) are on a mission to find Jodie and you are trying to adapt to the brutal and harsh apocalyptic world you live in. But, just as you begin your search, you run into this town of inhabitants that you can help. The town contained several inhabitants that had their own requests (missions) so you begin to learn more about them, the history of the town(s), and the universe you live in as finding Jodie is what you are ultimately striving for.
Finally, the campaign contained a unique element – Character Driven Dialogue. When interacting with characters throughout the game, you could decide what to say to them. And, each response may result in a different outcome so you must choose carefully. This helps to add an additional element of strategy, suspense, and mystery. What if I would have chosen a different response? What would have happened? Would he let me in? Would he love me more? The world will never know…
So, in case you didn’t pick up on this, the campaign was awesome. It had a solid plot, character depth, and character driven dialogue. For these reasons, I give it a 5/5 balls yet again.
So, how did BUCK hold up? Not too shabby… Although BUCK had simple controls, there were a lot of other factors that added spice to the game. One of these factors is plain ol’ addiction. It is hard to point to one specific reason why BUCK was addicting, but I think it was through a combination of trivial things.
One of these was that the game wasn’t too easy or too hard. At first, the game is extremely challenging until you learn the basic mechanics of the combat system and how important it is to dodge and preserve health. After about an hour of gameplay, I began to get on a roll. But, right when you think you have it all figured out, the game will add an additional degree of difficulty; Maybe you get more enemies thrown at you, maybe you start to run thin on resources, maybe a big bad boss fight will present itself to you. You never know!
Also, this game contained so many different elements. Obviously, we have talked about the combat, action, and strategy aspects of the game. But, there was also a slight ‘open world’ presence. On your missions, there would be a couple different paths you could take. Each path would have its perks and consequences. Perhaps one path would result in you receiving some kick ass resources, but this risk came at a grave price – more enemies and a greater chance of death… God rest your pretty puppy soul… But, the point here is that it wasn’t a strict 2D side scroller. It had hidden passage ways and alternate routes to get additional ‘goodies.’
So, that being said, BUCK did begin to feel a bit redundant after my second and third day of playing it. Although it was a bit harder and the plot ‘thickened’ so to speak, it seemed to feel the same after a while. BUCK is still a work-in-progress so I look for the developers to add some sugar ’n spice and everything nice here.
For these reasons, I give this section a 4/5 balls.
Let’s jump right on in to this bad boy! The graphics… f$%^@#$ Awesome!!! As I mentioned before, this game is developed like a 2D arcade-style of game. The graphics were no exception to this. They were like an old-school arcade game, but a lot smoother and less pixelated. If I had to describe it in one sentence, it would be something like, “BUCK reminds me of a souped-up, modern day take on a classic arcade style of game.” So, although the graphics aren’t super realistic, that isn’t the style or intent of the game. So, Wave Interactive could maintain this style, but also improve it, smooth out the edges, and put their own little twist on it. Well done!
As a whole, the audio was solid. Each character had their own unique voice/personality and there was even a variety of voices as well. My only complaint here is that I wish BUCK sounded more bad ass. He doesn’t sound bad, but I envision his voice / character being this rough around the edges, deep toned hound dog on a determined mission to find his beloved Jodie. But, besides that, you can tell that the developers paid attention to every detail in this game. There were plenty of sound effects present from: the rain, thunder, ‘swooping’ noises when you use your melee attacks, realistic reloading sounds for your guns, and so much more. The attention to detail was phenomenal here and much appreciated by this gamer.
The graphics were phenomenal and the audio was solid as well. I do wish BUCK’s voice was slightly different, but ultimately that is a matter of opinion. For these reasons, I give BUCK a 4.5/5 balls.
This hot topic is going to revolve around depth. How deep does the rabbit hole go? Or, to say it better, “How deep does BUCK go?” Hopefully we don’t have any male readers named BUCK…
I alluded to this earlier in the ‘Campaign’ section, but there is indeed a plot and storyline to BUCK. Furthermore, the plot is quite good. But, I want to explain this a little more in-depth here (see what I did there?). When you first start the game, there is an EPIC prologue. This prologue helped set the mood and expectations of the game. I would have liked to see a little more background information explained here, such as: clarification that this is a post-apocalyptic era, hints at what caused this, and how long BUCK has lived in this world. Some of these questions get answered as you explore the game which I believe is the intent, but it would still be nice to have some background at the beginning to help set the expectations a little better. If you give the gamer a small taste of what is to come, they will continue playing yearning to find out the answer to the golden question of WHY?
Also, there is an internal narrator in the game. For example, when you go back to your house later in the game, you will see a picture of you and your stepdad (A condor I believe, but I am no bird expert). When you examine this picture, the internal narrator appears giving a couple sentences that provides insight to BUCK and/or the world you live in. Also, there will be some internal narration as you are doing missions and walking through various ‘areas’ of the world. This helps the gamer understand the character more and builds that gamer-to-character relationship and bond. Now, before you all go and laugh at me for not having any real-life friends, we all like to feel connected to the characters we play as and want to be able to relate to them. This internal narration in BUCK helps the gamer to feel more connected to the game and characters themselves.
Finally, the secondary missions you do help you understand the characters within the game. So, not only are you learning more about BUCK, but you are learning about the people around BUCK that you are helping in the town. And, to that point, when you are talking to these characters, the actions you take (via dialogue) may change the interaction and outcome completely. As I mentioned earlier, this concept is known as character driven dialogue.
These factors combine to make a deep experience. And, after all ladies, it is all about that depth, no stubble. I do wish there was a bit more background information presented at the beginning, but that is just me nitpicking. For these reasons, I give it a 4/5 balls.
In conclusion, BUCK was an AMAZING game. The fears I had in the beginning about my lack of ‘PC Gaming’ experience was immediately squashed thanks to the simple controls, mechanics, and gameplay. BUCK had a classic arcade feel to it, but Wave Interactive did a remarkable job of smoothing out the graphics without sacrificing that classic ‘feel.’ The graphics are stunning (Once again, without sacrificing that classic ‘feel’) and the audio, ranging from character voices to sound effects, is superb as well. There are still a few tweaks needed, but this game is a work-in-progress and they are constantly updating it and pushing out additional content. Grand total? 22.5/25 balls.