Caromble! (Crimson Owl Studios)
Fancy a rather destructive take on the brick break genre? Well, Caromble from Crimson Owl Studios has got you covered. The five members that make up this talented team of Dutch indie developers have apparently been working on the game for a few years already while also juggling other jobs, so clearly they are committed to getting it right!
Caromble sticks close to the basics of the genre, so you are given a paddle to control and must use it to bash around a sphere. Instead of simply using the sphere to break blocks though you get to smash apart crates and knock over drums thanks to the physics based gameplay. The way that the levels are designed means you will also have to learn how to curve the sphere and direct it towards ramps, conveyer belts and other obstacles. We like the fact that most levels require almost a bit of puzzle solving to complete and not just straightforward brick breaking.
This Early Access version we played contained two of the planned six chapters, each with four levels that are further divided into multiple playing areas. So far the level designs are great and you also get to engage in a boss battle at the end of each level. Players are awarded medals for speed runs and high scores, but it doesn’t look like the story is present yet. According to the store page it will involve fighting evil and freeing the corrupted world, which to us sounds like sufficient motivation to cause carnage. Also present so far are four unlockable “Skill” levels where you try for a high score on specific challenges, such as knocking down targets within a specified time or curving the sphere around an obstacle to score points.
It didn’t take us too long to get through the levels available so far in Early Access, but we definitely had a lot of fun doing so. The game still needs some optimization, but it already looks and plays great. Having to deal with pinball style bumpers and shifting playing fields keeps the gameplay interesting and we were looking forward to seeing what new challenges awaited in each area. The game features all the expected Breakout-style power-ups, such as paddle growing/shrinking, multi-balls and aim assists as well as some really harsh ones like the one that pixelates the visuals for a short while. The chapter 2 update also introduced “Focus” which is one of six planned super power-ups.
Visually the game looks good and we like the audio, although the music is a little on the mellow side. The controls also work well enough whether using a keyboard, mouse or controller. You simply need to move the paddle left or right to prevent the sphere from falling off the bottom of the screen and costing you a life. Holding down a button “charges” the paddle for an extra powerful shot, but you cannot move while charging.
We think fans of the genre will enjoy what Caromble! has to offer and this Early Access version provides a good indication of the direction that the developers are taking the game. We had a lot of fun with it and can’t wait to play the rest of the chapters.