Real dedication is when you love your job so much that you’re willing to travel across the surface of a vast alien world to find all the ship parts necessary to repair your damaged craft, rocket back into the cosmos, and then jet to work to punch-in on time. Even if such an extreme dedication to the nine-to-five grind work doesn’t ring as true with everyone, Bob Came in Pieces is still an intriguing indie game that blends exploration and problem solving puzzle elements with a strong physics engine and a lovely design to create a whimsical adventure.
Bob loves the freedom to dress casually and chat all day on the phone, and who wouldn’t? Except Bob is a green octopus-like alien that works as a telemarketer in a crummy cubicle at an intergalactic call center. While most of his co-workers don’t share his enthusiasm for the less than stellar gig, he’s pleased as punch to clock in each day and go about his normal work routine. Unfortunately for Bob, his commute to work is cut short one day when his ship is struck by a wayward meteor. And his day doesn’t get much better from there.
Losing his hyper drive unit, as well as numerous other crucial chunks of his ship, he crash lands on a strange planet without help in sight. In order to get Bob back to work, you’ll guide what’s left of his spacecraft through different and interestingly designed areas of the planet to recover missing parts and the ever-important hyper drive system. What makes the explorative journey so fascinating is that you’ll use the junk parts you recover along the way to constantly re-build and re-design Bob’s ship to overcome the obstacles you run into.
Both above and below the surface, the mysterious, earth-like planet is rife with mechanical contraptions designed to impede your progress. Among giant locking mechanisms and puzzles that must be assembled you’ll find trigger plates to depress, large objects to move, and force fields to circumvent, alongside more peculiar hurdles. While solving puzzles on the first few stages only require some basic common sense, these impediments grow increasingly complex and you’ll have to make more drastic alterations to your ship to proceed.
Your core ship is a small orb with eight bolt points where additional parts can be attached. As you explore the planet, you’ll find basic extender parts, various hinges, and several special functioning items that you can combine and assemble onto your vessel. Most levels have multiple hotspots where you can stop and freely play around with re-designing your ship using any parts you’ve collected. Frequent experimentation is necessary. For example, one area may require you to assemble a long hook-like fixture to your ship in order to flick a hard-to-reach switch. Other areas require you to attach a pushing or pulling device to manipulate rocks, mechanical devices, and other gadgets you find.
But it’s not as easy as just dropping anything onto Bob’s ship willy-nilly. The game features a dynamic physics system, and the more you add to your ship, the more it affects how it handles in accordance with balance and gravity. Plunking down too much junk on your craft without beefing up your boosters will render you virtually immobile, and you can only move in certain directions if you have boosters located on the opposite end to push you. The realistic physics make designing your ship a fun challenge, and tinkering around with the different parts to see what you can come up with to solve each problem is equally entertaining.
The levels, puzzles, and the overall visual worlds in Bob Came in Pieces are really nicely put together. While it’s great to focus on the task at hand, you’ll also find yourself taking a moment to soak in the colorful backgrounds and unique terrain designs. Also, the way some contraptions are put together is pretty brilliant.
There are 14 stages to go through which doesn’t take terribly long to accomplish, but you can revisit previously completed stages to try for a faster time. And there are plenty of things you’ll miss on the first go around due to initially having limited parts. Sprucing up your ship with the cool technology unlocked later on in the game makes it worth going back to check out where else you can use it. Bob Came in Pieces oozes creativity and rewards you for noodling around to your heart’s content. It’s easy to get into but hard to stop playing once you’ve been hooked.