Cassidy   Kentucky, United States
Founder of Moonwire Media . Former Sound Designer for Team Fortress 2 Classic.
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105 Hours played
EDIT 2: Go download play the new multiplayer mod on Thunderstore, Fusion. It makes the game quite fun.

EDIT: As of writing this review, the game has received ANOTHER update that seems to have fixed a few more issues that I have addressed. Things like shouldering and player interaction have been improved somewhat. As well as some new story content. The game is getting better, but still not worth forty dollars yet.

Let me preface this review with a statement.

I play VR quite a lot. I enjoyed Hover Junkers. I loved Duck Season. I loved Boneworks. I look up to Stress Level Zero as an aspiring gamedev. As such, I really, REALLY wanted to like BONELAB. I had been excited for it ever since the first PROJECT 4 teaser. I bought it on day one, and finished it on day one.

Unfortunately, at the current time, I can not recommend it for a multitude of reasons.

Let's start with gameplay. As much fun as I had with Boneworks when it came out, I had convinced myself that this game was going to take the formula and improve upon it. And while, yes, some aspects of the engine have been improved upon (i.e. melee combat,) a good majority of the rest feel about the same, if not even jankier than Boneworks was. Climbing feels anywhere from inconsistent at best to completely infuriating at worst. Two-handed guns feel strange and seem to fire differently than where you expect it to go. Enemies and their AI have not changed in the slightest from the previous game. The platforming feels more unfair now, jumping and air control are wildly inconsistent, you will sometimes take a minuscule hop and other times a giant leap for no apparent reason. Tracking feels strange at times, especially when trying to reload your weapon or grabbing one out of your inventory. All of this bundled together just gives this game a feeling of a resounding lack of polish. It's apparent that SLZ focused mainly on the "hyper-realism" side of VR instead of the actual gameplay aspects, which should never be the case. These are downgrades that I never thought I'd see from this studio.

The campaign gets a resounding "Meh." from me, as well.
The pacing is complete and utter dogsh*t. The first level was wonderful. I hopped into the game and was met with the same feeling I got playing Boneworks for the first time, as it really felt like what I was used to. Traversing the level felt familiar, yet also like new territory. Though, the third level is where things become more of a slog. One way to traverse the level is by climbing your way up to the top. This would normally be fine, by this time I had gotten somewhat accustomed to the climbing mechanic, but there was a specific metal bar that would send me flying every time I tried to grab onto it. Eventually, I recovered and carried on, but not for long. If this wasn't bad enough, a platform that I had to move to continue had a piece of it somehow get stuck in, you guessed it, another metal bar. I had to reload this level twice to get it to work properly. The next level made me so motion sick that I almost threw up. Even after this, the next few levels were just little minigames that felt more like a "look what you can do with body swapping!" instead of a proper campaign. A specific level almost had me rage quit, but I'm sure you've read enough reviews that talk about that one already. By the time you have full access to the body-swapping mechanic, you only have two more levels to traverse before the campaign ends. The story's highs were very high, and the lows were remarkably low. I'm still very happy to see Jimmy Wong get a proper role in a SLZ game.

Graphically, I feel this game is a major step up from Boneworks. SLZ moved to a more recent version of Unity and used the Universal Render Pipeline, allowing for things like ambient occlusion, bloom, and screenspace global illumination to be used. They used this to the best of their ability, so much so that sometimes it felt a little too overprocessed. There is an unnecessary amount of volumetric fog everywhere, without an option to turn it off. This also affects the bloom and can make you feel like you've been "flashbanged" for lack of a better term. Despite this, model quality has been improved, as well as texture quality and the like. Things feel more "real" than ever, apart from some specific avatars with weight painting issues and the Ford model in the sandbox mode.

As expected, the best part about this game is its soundtrack. There's really not much to say besides that Michael Wyckoff does not disappoint once throughout the entire game. It's a beautiful blend of synths and instruments that feel right at home in the universe of BONELAB. If you're gonna buy anything, buy the soundtrack. It's obviously a labor of love and it deserves your money.

Back when Boneworks released, it was called a tech demo by quite a few people who didn't know what they were talking about. And while I defended Boneworks from those claims, it's quite a bit more difficult to defend BONELAB from the same claims. It doesn't feel like a true successor whatsoever. It seems like the team spent all their time porting it to the new version of Unity, and added some tidbits of content here and there. It's also clear that development for standalone headsets was prioritized, considering all of the issues Index users have been having. All of the teasers that were posted seemed to allude to a more fleshed out campaign, but rather than giving the players what they advertised, they spent ~3 years porting over the engine and added just enough content to call it something new.

It's very clear to me that Stress Level Zero wanted to lean more into user-generated content, especially after seeing the modding scene that erupted from Boneworks. And I'm more than fine with that. But after toying with the SDK for a couple of days, its not nearly in the state that it needs to be in order to keep the game from going stale. As of the time I'm writing this review, you can only port over custom avatars and basic maps, and there are some bugs in the SDK that affect things like fingers and hand positions. Nothing game breaking as far as I know, but definitely some major inconvenience.

In conclusion: BONELAB is a disappointing sequel to what many consider to be the best VR game of all time. The game definitely needed some more time in the oven before release, because it feels as if SLZ had spent no time at all in the QA phase of development. In many aspects, Boneworks is still the superior title. But that does not mean that BONELAB doesn't have its merits. If you want to play the absolute best VR-physics sandbox game out there, buy BONELAB. If you don't want a forty dollar half-game and an unfinished mod SDK, look somewhere else.

I will update this review as time goes on, and mods/fixes start rolling out.
Steam Replay 2022

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52 hrs on record
last played on Nov 30
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last played on Nov 28
Grogglen Mar 15 @ 3:41am 
bro really said "i dont like this game" then kept playing it for 50 more hours and got 48 of 55 achivements
BlxeSkxtch Jan 12 @ 10:17pm 
What is she cooking? :BErainbow:
Dalister Oct 20, 2022 @ 6:10pm 
Did not know you helped with the soundtrack of TF2C!
Distilled Guava Oct 15, 2022 @ 12:52pm 
Let's discuss BONELAB
Maygik Feb 3, 2022 @ 3:26am 
I believe that you messaged me on Fiverr, I can't actually respond to that message though because it's saying that you're unavailable.
KISSENGER-ISDEAD Jul 6, 2021 @ 3:33am 
I am not a bot. I am a Volunteer Steam Moderator. I do not have mod powers but my reports are taken seriously and those who get on my bad side tend to get banned in under 24 hours. I have numerous rules, which you may read in my post history, but 1 is the most important rule of all

• Do not refer to me as something I am not.

Watch your back and get used to this face kiddo, you'll be seeing a lot of it.