Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One
As online multiplayer become the norm, an increasing number of indie games are exploring the local party game genre. Bombfest takes a cue from Mario Party-style quick and silly mini-games with a party game about throwing bombs at your fellow wooden block people.
With easy to pick up two-button controls, quick gameplay, and a whimsical style, Bombfest is a delightfully explosive romp with friends.
Bombs ‘N Blocks
Up to four players take on the role of small wooden block figures with slightly differently colored outfits. Bombfest plays over a series of 1-10 matches (five is the standard) with each match on a different stage. Stages are tiny, cute renditions of household locations like a wooden block fort on a bedside table, the top of a birthday cake, and even the kitchen sink. Many environments are destructible, littering the small area with wooden blocks, while others, like the sink, provide obvious pitfalls to avoid.
Bombs rain down from the sky as players snatch them up and fling them at one another, hoping to knock their opponents off the too-tiny arena. The chaotic gameplay most closely resembles Super Smash Bros. As players get hit with explosions, they receive more marks on their player icons, indicating that they’ll travel further the next time they’re hit. For this reason matches rarely last longer than 30 seconds. Bots can optionally be used for less players, and were more than capable of holding their own.
Only two buttons are needed to play Bombfest (aside from a joystick or d-pad to move). One button picks up and throws bombs while the other dodges out of the way. The dodge is small and more of an emergency dive. The two-button controls make Bombfest particularly well suited to the Nintendo Switch.
Eliminated players still get to play by respawning as controllable bombs. This adds even more hilarious chaos as defeated foes can wreak a terrible vengeance by rolling towards others and detonating. It’s a great way of letting people play after they’ve been eliminated, though matches never last much longer.
To add a small mix of progression, more bombs, maps, and playable figures are unlocked as you play for a total of 12 stages and 10 different bombs. None of the bombs break the core formula, however. Some bombs make stick, bounce, slide, or lie in wait. But it’s still mostly about grabbing the nearest bomb and chucking it. We did appreciate that the options menu lets you dictate exactly which bombs you like to play with and at what frequency they appear.
Bombfest has been rated E for Everyone with Mild Fantasy Violence. Although you’re constantly exploding and throwing bombs at one another, it’s all very silly and cartoony. The small wooden block figures, forts, and trains are delightful. The easy controls are welcoming for younger kids as well, making it a great family game.
Bombfest is a great example of taking a simple gameplay idea and executing it well. The childish toy blocks provide a unique style and family-friendly appeal. While we appreciated unlocking new stages and bombs, the core gameplay grows repetitive after a few series. Bombfest is a game best played in short bursts with friends and family. For families with younger kids, Bombfest is an easy-to-play delight.