25/07/2017

☆Review: Caromble! "Aye Caromble!"☆

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Caromble! - PC
Caromble is the first video game from Crimson Owl Studios, at its heart it’s a modernised version of the classic block-busting bonanza ‘Breakout’, but packed with features and a very cool style that sets it apart from the crowd.

Pretty much everyone has played a game inspired by Breakout at some point, it’s such a simple formula that’s difficult to get wrong but on the other hand, too many additions to the gameplay can dilute the fun factor and even a slightly misfiring physics engine can completely ruin the gameplay and so there’s a delicate balance to be made. On top of this, many games in this genre can feel samey and so it does take something a little special to stand out and make an impact.


The game that came to mind the most whilst I was playing Caromble! Was Magic Orbz, the Playstation 3 title which also took Breakout games to new heights (it also had a fantastic co-op mode) by making the in-game ‘table’ more interesting by adding characters, quirky power-ups and different themes in each level.



Caromble’s way of putting its unique stamp on the genre is by having a fun steampunk vibe running through the game, this really worked for me. The graphics have a ‘Borderlands’ feel; colourful, rusty and slightly futuristic (coincidentally, also the names of my three pet vultures) which are crisp and backed by a great cyberpunk ambient soundtrack which frequently changes throughout the game, adding audio variety to the proceedings.

The gameplay itself is well-realised. You know the score here, you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen and the goal is to smash everything in sight whilst trying to keep the ball in play. At the end of a few different tables you have a boss battle which is essentially attacking a moving target, the rub is that his shields regenerate if you miss him for too long, so accuracy and speed really come into play during these boss fights.

Along with the usual power-ups in this sort of game (grow, shrink, speed up etc.), there are also some new ideas thrown in, one of which is the ability to curve your shot by slicing across the ball as you make contact. It’s such a simple idea but one that adds a nice new dimension to your style of play, allowing for some pretty nifty angles and makes the physics more fun (For the record, the ‘pixel’ power-up is an awesome inclusion but my word, avoid it if you can, it RINSED my lives!).



Physics in the game work really well, the fact that the barrels and the boxes that you hit have their own individual physics and roll around the play area adds variety and challenge to each table. Making replays of levels and individual experience. There’s also a cool ‘mercy’ feature when you have run out of lives, this allows you to have an extra life to complete the level but it doesn’t add to your score or best time, a really cool way of giving struggling players a final crack at finishing the table.

The game is currently early access and only three of the six worlds are available but this already adds up to twelve tables which are split into individual sections along with other games modes on offer, accessible from the main menu.

The one gripe I did have was that I couldn’t find a way to alter the sensitivity of the game pad which was an issue as it was quite twitchy and took some getting used to (at least that’s my excuse for my dodgy score, and I’m sticking to it), hopefully, this feature will be added in future updates.



Summary:
Caromble has a real charm to it and Crimson Owl Studios have breathed life into what can be a tired genre filled with lazy clones. It’s also a great game to use as an introduction for someone just getting into gaming due to its accessibility and family friendliness (even the boss ‘demon’ is cartoonish and cutesy so there’s nothing here that’s unsuitable for children).

It’s a pipe dream but heck, maybe Crimson Owl could include a Co-op mode at some point…it could be a ‘breakout’ idea.

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Crimson Owl Studios













Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)