We can hear a Caromble in the jungle.
Ya know, there’s just something so pure and entertaining about Breakout or Arkanoid-style games. They make for great first-time projects for developers, and it’s a relaxing no-brainer to whack a ball around and watch it destroy bricks. Still, it’s occasionally pleasant to stumble across a more polished example of the genre. Something with shameless eyecandy, visual effects, and strange twists in the gameplay. A few of these exist already, but a new title by the name of Caromble! (yes, the exclamation is part of the title) is carving a space for itself in this specific niche. Question is, does Caromble! keep its eye on the ball?
Oddly enough, there’s some semblance of a story here. Turns out a city is just going about its business when a big, red demonic entity shows up to wreak havoc. Thankfully, a paddle-like ship appears to engage said entity by continuously hitting it with a bouncing, glowing ball. As the battle between the two wages on, the entity moves about the city and devises new tricks and traps to stall the heroic paddle. Yeah, okay, it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but I can think of far worse stories.
A breakout hit.
This game breaks away (ha) from the standard 2D formula to envision Breakout in a more three-dimensional space. Levels have more than just bricks: in many cases, boxes are stacked on top of one another and tumble over when knocked down. Ramps and slopes also come into play, and there’s a sense of progression and movement as the playing field constantly switches about in an industrial space and jumps from one steel platform to another.
As is standard in such games, breaking objects results in points and power-ups. You can expect the usual array on offer, such as those that grow or shrink the paddle, or changing the view and generating extra balls. There’s a few power-downs as well, such as one that makes the entire screen extremely pixelated. The constant surprises always keep you on your toes, as it’s very easy to nab an unwanted item while frantically trying to catch the bouncing ball.
Oh, you better believe that’s a paddlin’.
An interesting feature is the ability to “charge” the paddle. This is achieved by keeping down a button for a few seconds, causing the paddle to glow red. Once fully charged, the ball with fly outwards with tremendous force the next time it hits the paddle, causing severe damage to bricks and obstacles in its path. Using this tactic, one may clear levels quicker, or dispatch of a boss (which is totally a thing in this game). The only downside? The paddle is immobile while charging. This mean you need to plan it carefully, though sometimes an instant-charge power-up will drop from the bricks.
It ticks all the right boxes for a Breakout game, but the presentation is quite a unique touch. The aforementioned industrial theme, the bloom effects, the cel-shading, the three-dimensionality of it all, and a pretty rocking soundtrack all come together to form a slick and beautiful modern-looking game. It’s also tongue-in-cheek and unabashedly goofy, which is a welcome change from the slew of craggy titles recently that take themselves all too seriously. It’s also an almost-complete experience, merely lacking the last few intended chapters, but there’s still plenty of material on show here to keep you amused for a while. Especially if you’re hunting an elusive high score and are keen to earn your spot on the leaderboards.
It’s tough to recommend a Breakout-style game in this day and age, but Caromble! is definitely an exception to this rule. It’s an admirable attempt to modernize and remix a tried-and-true formula, and it works really, really well. There’s more than enough classic gameplay here to please long-time Breakout fans, while the new gimmicks keep things interesting and fresh. Although still in Early Access, there’s a lot of material here, and I can’t help but feel a little giddy at the prospect of even more content in the foreseeable future. If you’re keen to try it out in its current state, then roll over to its official Steam page now to get a copy that you can call your own.