Boneworks (stylized in all caps as BONEWORKS) is a first person adventure game for VR systems by Stress Level Zero. It is currently available on Steam and the Oculus Store, and launched on December 10th, 2019.
The story takes place within the MythOS system- a highly advanced virtual reality world that allows the user to inhabit a space of seemingly infinite size. Thrust into this strange landscape, you are forced to use everything in your arsenal to survive.
Boneworks prides itself on its highly detailed physics based system, where guns, melee weapons and whatever you can get your hands on reacts to the environment. The game incentivizes the player to experiment and approach the challenges the game throws at them however they please, and shifts between puzzle-solving, action setpieces, shooting, and exploration in a constant Gameplay Roulette.
Tropes present in this game:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: You traverse through one at one point. As is to be expected, it's very dark and teeming with enemies.
- Boom Head Shot: Any sort of humanoid entity takes the most damage in the head. A running punch can be enough to down a Null Body or Omniroller in one hook if you swing just right.
- Boring, but Practical: Pistols can be accurately fired one-handed, letting you carry a melee weapon, physics object, or another pistol in your off-hand. It's rare to face enemies outside your pistol's effective range, so there's little reason to use another gun.
- There is one exception to this - the assault rifle with the laser sight attachment. No, the weapon doesn't do anything fancy, it's just a rifle with a laser sight. But the laser sight is the most useful aiming tool in the game, far more than sights or a scope, enabling accurate aiming without needing to hold the gun up to your head. Even the pistol requires the use of the iron sights to aim properly at medium to long range, whereas the laser sight will make it much easier to target enemies at range without needing to worry about the gun stock colliding with your body and causing problems.
- Bullet Time: The player character is able to put themselves into slow motion for a certain amount of time. However, this is played with as you move just as slow as well. This means you have to adjust your movements accordingly, though it can be used for some neat tricks like reloading a gun by tossing a magazine into the air and allowing it to land into the magazine slot.
- Checkpoint Starvation: There was originally no way to save your progress in a level. Considering most levels will likely take you over an hour to complete on your first run, this was understandably a major source of complaint from players. The good news is, according to Word of God, the developers simply underestimated how long each level would take, and this was later addressed in a patch that added save stations.
- Console Cameo: The museum of VR shows off hardware from the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Valve Index. Which feels odd if you're playing it on conspicuously absent Windows Mixed Reality hardware.
- Disapproving Look: Alora delivers one to the player and Ford at the end of the game while showing the Gammon USB Ford used to infect MythOS. While she approves of Ford seeking immortality in the Void, she's not so happy about his status as The Mole and destroying the System Clock, barring others from following him into the Void.
- Earn Your Fun: You have to find and unlock most of the content by playing through the story. The sandbox and arena modes are locked behind certain tasks and you have to bring both weapons and entity capsules to a reclamation bin in order to use them in Sandbox. Most of these weapons, objects and NPCs are found in BONEWORKS crates that are very easy to miss and you have to think creatively to get to them. Finally, there are the developer weapons found in a Monomat at the Time Tower level which require an absurd amount of ammunition to purchase, something that can only be done by finding close to 100% of the ammo pickups in all the levels leading up to it and almost never using a firearm.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Averted. Your punches do pathetic damage in comparison to your wide variety of weapons at your disposal. It's likely that a Null Body will finish you off single-handedly unless you come at it with some kind of weapon, even something small like a brick. On the other hand, empty hands can also be used to grab enemies to hold them at bay, throw them, or even smash them against a wall or desk. A running punch is also rather effective and can One-Hit Kill an Omniroller or Null Body if you aim for the head.
- Gainax Ending: And middle, and beginning. The overall plot is very unclear, but the climax takes the cake. After destroying the System Clock in the center of MythOS city, the player is subjected to a cutscene of Ford, the main character, realizing that his mind has been separated from his real world body after entering the BONEWORKS backend. Afterwards, the player is transported to a medieval dungeon within the work-in-progress Fantasy Land populated by strange, peppy versions of himself (presumably former "shells" from previous attempts to get to the void). After fighting in an arena and killing a version of Ford with a crown, the player does a few more puzzle solving bits before the player is treated to an ending cutscene of mysterious men from Sabrelake finding the protagonists body in the real world and killing him with Void beings surrounding you in the chamber where you're watching the ending.
- Gratuitous Latin: The Ominous Latin Chanting in ''Opera De Ossium'', the boss music for the fight in the gravity core, is a very loose translation of "You are a player in Boneworks, and I am Stress Level Zero."note
- Immortality Seeker: Arthur Ford, who uses resources from both Gammon (the in-universe developers of Duck Season) and Sabrelake in order to get into the Void via the BONEWORKS backend of MythOS. Alora and others are also aware and she urges Ford to leave a way in for others to follow.
- Improvised Weapon: Everything that seems light enough for you to carry can (and probably will) be used as a weapon.
- Jump Scare While traversing through the sewer, the game will suddenly drop a Null Body directly in front of you. It's not very dangerous, but it's quite startling.
- Justified Tutorial: The Museum level demonstrates the numerous game mechanics in detail, and is designed as a literal museum for the inhabitants of MythOS to get accustomed to their new bodies. The player is forced through here early on, and there are a few optional gameplay tutorials to teach the player more complex game mechanics and physics features if they so choose.
- Last Chance Hit Point: In a manner similar to Gorn: Visceral Reality. Once you take fatal damage, you have a few moments in Bullet Time to kill an enemy to bring yourself back from the brink.
- Meaningful Name: Arthur Ford, the player character, may be named after the two main characters of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect.
- The Mole: Arthur Ford, the main character who is a security director at Monogon, uses a Gammon USB to infect MythOS to freeze the system clock at 3:14 and kick everyone out. He then barricades himself in his real office and uses a modified Saberlake HMD to get into the city so he can find a way into the Void to attain immortality.
- One Bullet Clips: Played straight, depositing magazines into your belt sorts them for you and dropped magazines don't detract from the ammo on your person and eventually despawn, allowing you to perform a reload in heated combat without needing to worry about wasted ammo. The ammo belt will also detect which weapon is in your hands so you don't need to worry about grabbing a STANAG magazine by mistake while using a 9mm weapon and vice versa.
- Power Fist: An unlockable developer weapon found at the Time Tower like the rest of the weapons. Pulling the trigger charges it and can send enemies and objects flying.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Ford succeeds in destroying the system clock and entering the Voidway, effectively rendering himself immortal. However, his real-world body is shortly found and he watches himself be shot pointblank. And given that the game implies that he is one of many Fords who have gone through the Voidway before, with graffiti on walls sometimes urging him to avoid the Void, it can be assumed that immortality may not be as glamorous as he wanted...
- Shout-Out: Some of the graffiti present is modeled after MTF field codes.
- Sticks to the Back: Large items go here. Small items go under the arm. Gun magazines go to a pouch on your hip.
- Take That!: During the Museum level, the player is given a trip through the history of Monogon Industries' virtual reality development history. During one phase, you're shown that the "early stages" of development relied on a teleporting system that many users decried as irritating to use. This mirrors real life VR development, wherein many early VR games used a teleporting movement system instead of locomotion, which is something that was dropped as the only locomotion method, but still widely used as an accessibility feature for people more prone to simulation sickness.
- Tech Demo Game: The main reason why Boneworks was developed was to meaningfully advance VR by emphasizing physics-based gameplay over everything else, and the game makes sure you know it. The very first real level is a massive Museum tutorial sequence designed to both teach you how to play and force you take in just how much work the devs put into this engine.
- Wreaking Havok: The game emphasizes physics based puzzles and environments and even encourages you to cheat your way through a puzzle if possible. Even your body is physics active and you can climb up any ledge if you can get your hands onto it or use the crowbar as a climbing hook to grab a ladder or ledge that would otherwise be out of reach.