Let Bions Be Bygones Offers Old School Adventure With Some Modern Twists

Let Bions Be Bygones
Reviewed On
Steam (PC)
Available For

Back in the 1980s and 90s, point and click adventures were all the rage in computer gaming. Part of that was probably because computer technology at the time could not really support robust, photo-realistic 3D worlds like they can today. But putting up a fairly good-looking, static environment and then having players move a character across the screen, clicking on key points while solving puzzles and other mysteries, or just interacting with NPCs, well, that was no big deal for the PCs of the time.

With a bit of a technologically limited canvas to work with, developers ended up relying on strong stories and narratives to carry the day, and gamers for the most part really enjoyed those old school games. There were even titles like King’s Quest that spawned an entire series of games, while others like Grim Fandango achieved legendary status and a following that continues to this day. Those were great titles for sure, but the Tex Murphy detective mysteries were more my style. People would crowd into my room in college to collectively play and solve those, and that made for a really great time.

Fast forward to today. Point and click adventures are still around, but don’t normally get top billing from publishers as they are considered old school to a large extent. But beyond that, few that I have tried have really captured the essence of those older, classic mystery titles. The Norco game came close for me, and GiN Save State columnist Vincent Mahoney really enjoyed another one called Lacuna. And Modern Gamer columnist Marie Brownhill covered Grunnd, which was another modern mystery adventure. But despite all that, nothing really pulled me fully back into that golden age of point and click adventures before I jumped into Let Bions Be Bygones on Steam.

And just FYI, bions are human-looking robotic clones in the game, hence the title. But unlike the replicants from Blade Runner, bions are generally created as shells for wealthy humans so they can transfer their consciousness into them when they die, giving them a form of immortality.

Perhaps because of my love of the Tex Murphy detective series, Let Bions Be Bygones was immediately familiar to me. In fact, the entire opening sequence is pretty much a detective noir cliche. You play as detective John Cooper, a down on his luck private investigator at the end of his rope, who is saved (in a way) by a mysterious blonde femme fatale. She breezes into his office, eliminates all his money problems and only asks for him to solve one case in return. So, just like that, Cooper is back to working as a detective once more.

Now, the thing about Cooper is that he apparently used to be a hot shot detective, but he’s also kind of a technological throwback kind of person trying to survive in a cyberpunk type of world. These days, as he describes it in one of his many self-focused monologues, the world of law enforcement is run by technological robo-cops and private security guards with so many implants and enhancements that they are barely human anymore. Still, when a case requires good, old fashion investigative work, an old school detective like Cooper can still make the grade.

Cooper leads a less than healthy lifestyle it seems, which includes way too much drinking, smoking and other bad choices. He may also be a bit mentally unwell. In the opening sequence, players can choose to grab their gun (which of course you would) and also a picture of Cooper’s old girlfriend who has since passed on. Seems reasonable enough, but those two inanimate objects both take on lives of their own, talking and sometimes arguing with both Cooper and one another.

The gun and the photo don’t get along at all (the gun is jealous of the real girl the photo represents). And in addition to just general animosity, they have different points of view when it comes to morality. The girl is normally more forgiving and looks for the good in people, while the gun, predicably I guess, thinks people are bad and generally advocates for more violence. The two of them make great supplemental characters.

Graphically, Let Bions Be Bygones looks amazing, and it has some of the best pixel art I have ever seen. Everything looks colorful and realistic, despite being made of largeish blocks. You really get a good feel for the massive city of Terrahive where the adventure takes place, and the dichotomy that exists between the incredibly wealthy people of the upper city and the poor slobs, like Cooper, who live down below. I would almost go so far as to say that the pixel art probably gives Let Bions Be Bygones a much better noir atmosphere than if the developers tried to go with photo-realism or something like that.

And unlike most indie titles, all dialogue in Let Bions Be Bygones is fully voiced, so you don’t necessarily need to read all the text if you don’t want. The quality of the voice actors varies quite a bit though. The main character is great and sounds a lot like Max Payne, which is perfect for Cooper.

Some of the minor characters you meet in Let Bions Be Bygones are less impressive when it comes to their voice acting, and for some reason the sound levels for voices are all over the place, with some characters coming in twice as loud as others and blasting through the speakers, which can be a bit jarring. The sound quality unfortunately varies some too. Some actors seemed to have recorded their lines in a professional studio, while others were probably at home using less precise equipment. It’s too bad there are so many audio issues, but kudos to developer Bohemian Pulp for committing to full voice acting, something that you almost never see these days outside of AAA titles.

The gameplay for Let Bions Be Bygones is pretty easy to learn. You basically warp to various locations around the city and then talk with people in this colorful world and get them to reveal new locations, leads or suspects, which opens up more places you can go. There are a few environmental type puzzles, like finding a cable to charge up a deactivated cat which is actually a bion, or bringing food to some hungry gangsters to soften them up before pumping them for information. Anyone who has played detective or even just general adventure titles in the past should not find too much of a challenge here. That was fine with me because it let me kind of coast along while I enjoyed the world and the well-crafted plot and story.

Let Bions Be Bygones is currently on sale on Steam for under $15, which is an incredible value. The story unfolds episodically, with Acts One and Two available at launch, while Act Three released on May 7th. If you are at all into those old school point and click adventures, or simply want to know what the golden age of adventure gaming was like, give Let Bions Be Bygones a try. It’s a perfectly modern twist that stands tall on the shoulders of those giants of yesteryear.

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