Don’t Rock The Boat: Bayou

Bayou

Just to prove that the theme of “Minalism” for the last Ludum Dare produced some of the most interesting games of any jam, I have here another that’s about slowly hunting a beast in a swamp. Bayou is like that sea monster battle in Resident Evil 4 if you limited the player to just one harpoon and took away the aggression on both sides. In truth, the tone is completely different, but it’s still survival-horror, in a way.

With just the sound of water lapping underneath, you enter Bayou on a simple one-person boat that moves slowly across a swamp. The minimalist aesthetic is immediately apparent due to the hand-drawn graphics and animation; it’s a 3D world made of paper and pen. Without knowing anything about Bayou prior to heading in, it would be very easy to mistake it as a just a relaxing experience. A pleasant boat ride.

But it’s quite far from that.

Bayou

As you head further into the swamp, the gentle silence is interrupted by some low rumbles and a couple of birds that fly overhead. Something’s obviously moving up ahead and scaring the birds hiding within the trees. It’s not possible to see around you due to your vision’s being limited by the illumination of the lamp at the front of your boat. Then you have the many trees that break up the view too.

A little further on, and you get your first glimpse of something much bigger lurking in the swamp. It’s a colossal, spiked spine that curls out of the water joined by a slight growl from underneath. Then it disappears again, now having warned you. Suddenly, your boat rocks violently. This creature is toying with you.

Round about this time, it might be a good idea to get to grips with the harpoon. If you hadn’t realized before now, holding the right mouse button down causes your sight to zoom and a harpoon to be raised over your right shoulder. You’ve only got on shot, so when would be best to use it? Do you try to hit the creature as its back rises out of the water, or maybe you should hold on to it in case it goes for a more direct attack?

Wait it out and see, perhaps…