Bob Help Them is a timed resource management game, where your goal is to help all the NPC’s in your village with simple chores.
Produced by Brazilian game studio Gagonfe, Bob Help Them is the latest edition to the increasingly overwhelming catalogue of resource management games. The question is, how does it stand out from the rest?
From chopping trees as a dutiful pixelated lumberjack, to catching fish, the tasks that you will undertake are simple and relaxing. The challenge to be found here, comes with the addition of a time-limit, and a star scoring system based on how quickly you complete each level.
It is clear that the developers have structured the game in such a way, as to entice players to catch the proverbial ‘one more level system’ – with the short levels and simple objectives being conducive for such an approach. Add to this, a relatively relaxing aesthetic, and you can see what the developers were aiming towards.
The problem is that Bob Help Them doesn’t offer anything particularly unique, within a genre that is dominated by huge titles in Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. The simple gameplay is fun for what it is, but unless you’re someone who wants to play every simulator, there isn’t anything particularly unique here; that hasn’t been done better somewhere else.
There just isn’t anything at all remarkable about this game. For me personally, if you’re going to elect for a more simplistic gameplay loop, then there really should be some other draw to the game. Here, the graphical style is fine; the music is good, but there is just nothing that makes the game feel memorable. It would be great if, across the games 35 levels, you had the opportunity to learn more about the 6 regular NPC’s, for example.
Well, at least you can Pet dogs!
The game also has an issue with balancing; some late-game missions are astonishingly simple, and feel like they may have been misplaced. Whilst it can be fun to revise your approach to tasks, to ensure you get three stars, the achievement itself feels completely inconsequential beyond an initial dopamine hit.
A relaxing, timer-based game?
Okay, so the previous section was pretty critical of the game. However, I also want to talk about an aspect of the game that does show some promise.
The idea of a game being both relaxing and timer-based sounds damn-near paradoxical to me. Personally, I don’t enjoy time-limits in games. They always succeed in raising anxiety, and causing me to rush through a level without taking in all there is to experience.
So, having a timer slapped on the screen – like in Bob Help Them – sounds like my worst nightmare. Strangely, I never felt any such anxiety throughout my time with Bob Help Them. As a matter of fact, I was pretty chilled out. This is a success.
You see, the time-limit is simply a way of giving the game a modicum of challenge; without it, there is no challenge. The stress of such a limit, is off-set by the calming music and low-stakes of your tasks. The world isn’t going to end. This NPC isn’t going to die if you don’t give them their 40 mangoes on time. One of your tasks is to pet dogs! That is like – the most – relaxing thing.
Bob Help Them genuinely succeeds in being a very relaxing timer-based resource management game(wow, that was a mouthful). Whilst I didn’t find the game particularly engrossing or unique, it certainly offered fun in small doses. I think there is some potential here.
Should you buy it?
Bob Help Them succeeds in offering a relatively stress-free gaming experience, with simple tasks and varying time-limits offering a regular sense of accomplishment. Beyond that, the game doesn’t have much more to offer. There are better options out there.
The village and characters general lack of personality is disappointing, and the inconsistency of the games challenge offers little to draw the player back. The game is fine in small doses, but honestly, it isn’t anything you can’t find elsewhere in the genre.