BONELAB – Before You Get Started

I’m going to help you! Whether returning from Boneworks or playing for the first time, here’s what the game thinks is above explaining to the player- all in this nice little guide.

Everything the Game Should Tell

Why Was This Guide Made?

Bonelab (like Boneworks before it) was developed by a frat house consisting of plenty of technical know-it-alls sure, but sadly absolutely no real grasp of game design.

It’s good that they’ve played Half-Life, but they clearly did not take any notes whatsoever regarding Half-Life’s core design philosophy- from signposting to tutorializing to playtesting. Especially playtesting. This game was only playtested by “experienced VR players”, and will turn away the wider audience on Quest 2 that will have zero clue as to how to play this game. Even returning players from Boneworks will need this guide.

This game is a mess, and I’m going to help you make heads and tails of this amateur hour wackhouse.

Let’s do this.

What You Need to Know Right Away

Blue ball capsules need to be torn apart with both hands to count as “collected”.

These designers thought it would be self-explanatory, but players returning from Boneworks will make it to the elevator with a literal trash can full of these, looking for the bin that cashes these out like in the original game. No such bin exists, and the game will delete your ball collection without warning upon completing the first level.

This game is not like the promotional video, with the test rooms and all the fun new toys given to you all at once!

Bonelab was heavily marketed as a sandbox, but instead of actually being one, it instead makes you unlock everything via an incredibly obtusely-designed campaign. Just like with the original, the developers get to play with all the toys on camera for Youtube, while you have to suffer through ‘Streets’ (or whatever drawn-out mess of a level, instead of- you know, getting fun VR toys). Given the name ‘BoneLab’, I assumed a lesson was learned by Stress Level Zero regarding feedback surrounding the original game, but perhaps I was giving the team too much credit.

You can’t play as any of the characters from the promo video until hours into the game.

In case the cleavage on the thumbnail is what brought you here, I’ve got some bad news for you.

Mods won’t work until the game ‘allows’ you to have them.

Before booting the game, I took the time to get the Marrow SDK up and running, and created an avatar. I make avatars for VRChat (I know I know, Chad Alert), so I was excited to mess with the tools regarding this game. A process taking a few hours, I would like if the game would simply allow me to test my own content whenever I want. Even upon unlocking ‘The Lab’, my content still wasn’t being acknowledged by the game. Grade A stuff here, guys.

Whoops! Can’t use this yet! We’ll let you know when you can, I guess…?

Now with all that established, here’s what you need to know once you get to “The Lab”:

Once You’re at “The Lab”:

In order to progress, you need to play any of the minigames (Arena, The Target Test thingy, Parkour) once, then return back to The Lab. If you’re on HDD, this should take about an hour and a half.

Once you’re back, go to the crane in the back of the map (up the staircase next to the Avatar Selector thingy). This crane thing sucks to control, but we’ll need to bear with it in order to unlock the secret ‘rest of the game’ cheat.

Those two yellow things on the ground near the crane? Plop them into that generator thing, and then start piloting at the controls. On the minimap, there’s tiny little dots (they’re hard to see), and you’ll need to move the crane over to those dots, and place them in the circles near your player character. Do this three times, and then run to the ‘Quarantine’ Door on your far right.

Here’s a video describing exactly what I just told you above:

Congrats! You can now play the rest of the game!

Enjoy, as it took me nearly 2 hours to figure this part out.

A Message to the Devs

Quest 2 users will come away confused regarding progression, close the game, and get sick.

Returning Boneworks players will be punished for simply remembering (and applying) game mechanics from the previous game, and will Alt-Tab away to Google asking if ‘The Lab’ is all there is to the game.

This game in its launch state is poorly designed, and a major let down. Make your game more like the hype videos you put out on Youtube, and less like I’m playing bloody myst, scratching my head trying to find where the rest of the bloody game is. If people want to just play levels, let them.

The crane “puzzle” is literally pointless.

As in- it is an actual, legitimate waste of time. Just let me open the Quarantine door right away. There is absolutely no reason to block that thing off- let alone have the red button be there from the start, just to do nothing.

Just let the Sandbox have everything right away, like in Garry’s Mod!

It’s not fair to the players that you sell them a fantasy, only for them to grind in the rice fields just to play as Smough, or a maid or whatever.

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9 Comments

  1. as a returning boneworks player, the crane was fine, the game was fine, it’s a skill issue. cope and seethe.

  2. i can tell you’ve never played boneworks. you still needed to collect the npc capsules there,
    also this game isn’t Garry’s mod it’s actually kind of fun collecting the capsules too.
    if you don’t like to explore the levels to find them just download a 100% save.

  3. my crane was stuck in the beam above it, i had to climb up there and fix it since it wouldnt fix itself across instance loads.

  4. bro if you look at the capsules they have arrows telling you how to open them. And when you get to the lab there’s a board that straight up tells you what to do.

  5. Yeah, the crane puzzle isn’t hard but it is extremely unnecessary. I agree with the parts about returning Boneworks players, the arrows for the capsules (along with every other small text tutorial for some reason) just showed up for like half a second and then disappeared.

    As for everyone who completed the crane puzzle, great for you, but it also says something about the game when there’s a lot of people who didn’t get the “puzzle” (72k views on the video tutorial how to do continue the game at the crane part), which is really pointless in the first place. I feel like it could have been kinda acceptable if it wasn’t randomly connected with you entering the minigames, but yeah… I liked Boneworks’ way of separating campaign from menu.

  6. For all the children that want all of the items and characters without any of the effort (playing the game and exploring) you can always just download a 100% save file like in boneworks. If there aren’t any now wait a day

  7. The crane part bugged for me but instead of pissing in a steam forum I actually manually opened the boxes, grabbed the balls with an SMG and an axe and moved each one to their respective slots. Had a lot of fun! I appreciate the guide!

  8. The crane puzzle was pure bullshit, It glitched out for me like 10 times before letting me use it. It would get stuck, i’d rejoin and it’d get stuck again. It’d keep repeating until it would kind of work after me climbing up to it and grabbing it.

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