Check out our Caromble early access hands-on, and see what we think about this new break breaking game from Crimson Owl Studios!
A while back, JT called me and asked if I would test and review a Ricochet-esque game called Caromble being developed by the good folks at Crimson Owl Studios. Ricochet, being one of the first games I ever played on my grandmother’s Windows 95 PC, had a certain sense of nostalgia that excited me to try this modern spin on the genre.
Admittedly, it was just that – nostalgia. The game wasn’t quite what I expected – and that’s by no means a bad thing – but being more of an action-oriented PVP gamer I found that Caromble didn’t resonate with me quite like I thought it would. However, that doesn’t it mean it won’t for you.
Caromble is a game that follows in the footsteps of Ricochet (and Breakout and Arkanoid before it, so I’ve learned from JT). The concept is simple; you have a bunch of destructible bricks and objects at the top of the screen, a controllable “paddle” at the bottom, and a ball that bounces to and from said paddle. You must keep the ball in play with the paddle and use it to destroy the objects on the map. Destroy enough and you progress through the map, eventually leading to a boss which you defeat by hitting the ball.
Admittedly, my description is rather brief, so here’s some footage of my gameplay. Note that Shadow Play didn’t seem to work with Caromble, so I ended up having to figure out Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) instead. I believe this is why there is some stutter here and there; the game itself ran just fine.
Right off the bat, I must say that I like the presentation of Caromble. The gameplay and partially cell-shaded art style makes for an interesting game. My favourite part of the game would have to be the creative use of physics – both in game and in the score screen. During gameplay, you can use your paddle to knock the ball on a curve and, once you get used to it, plan the path of where you want the ball to go. Once the game is over, the game disables gravity and the bricks environment begin to float as if in space, which I thought was quite creative. The great use of physics really adds a lot.
The game offers more than just bouncing a ball and boss-fights; there are a number of power-ups (and debuffs) that drop as you play. The power-ups I saw in the first few levels were what I remembered from Ricochet: more balls and wider paddles, etc. The debuffs were a little more interesting: smaller paddles, screen pixilation and “first person” view, which made it much harder to keep the ball in play.
Each level consists of a series of sub-levels; destroy enough of each one and a portal opens up to take you onto the next one. Eventually you fight the boss, whom you defeat with the ball.
Having spent some time in the game now, I think this is one of those games that you either love or hate. I could see plenty of gamers folks getting very into this type of gameplay: going all-out to try and beat their high score, hoping to be featured on the leaderboard. However, despite all of the features and added visuals, this game still boils down to a paddle, a ball, and some bricks. Truth be told, it isn’t really my cup of tea. Then again, it might very well be yours. Judging by all of the positive feedback on Steam, Caromble is certainly speaking to plenty of gamers out there.
For me, I get really into FPS and MOBA games where situational awareness and tactical strategy comes into play. Perhaps if this game had a bit more mechanics and/or abilities, it would be something I would consider playing more of.
That said, bear in mind that Caromble is still in early access right now on Steam. I suspect that there will be more features added to the game as it gets closer to being fully released. For those of you that love arcade and high-score styled hand-to-eye coordination games with leaderboards, Caromble might just be your next game. It is well made and I definitely recommend checking it out.
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