Bomb-based multiplayer games are oftentimes, by design alone, greatly entertaining. There’s something quite alluring about blasting your couch buddies to smithereens, all within arm’s reach of a slap on the back of the head. Whilst no game can achieve these thrills quite as well as Bomberman can, there’s certainly room on the market for more. Bombfest knows this, and taps into that competitive, over-the-top vibe, quite well. There’s room for improvement, mind, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a decent experience.
Bombfest is as accessible as a local multiplayer game can get. Booting up the game takes you to a clean and concise menu, with but a few options to selection from before diving into the fray and wreaking havoc. Setting up a match is as easy as breathing. Bombfest allows you to tweak the number of rounds, set a timer, and enable or disable bots. Outside of that, you can select what stages will have a chance at rotating into your fest, as well as being able to select what bomb types will be dropped into the game, and at what rate they’ll drop.
When you first start out, your options for the latter two are somewhat restricted. This is because you’ll be unlocking new stages and bomb types as you play. Once they’re unlocked, the options to toggle between them will be made available in the setup menu. To the game’s credit, it’s really as simple as that. I can say the same about the game’s controls. In Bombfest, all you need to worry about is movement via the left stick, grabbing and throwing bombs via the B button, and jumping and tumbling over through the use of the A button.
Before each selection of rounds begins, you and up to three other players (or bots) are taken to a practice map. Here, you’ll be able to gel with the controls or test out new bombs that will frequently drop from above the map. It’s a neat way to introduce new players to the experience, or indeed, give you a crash course on the functionality of the explosives. Nevertheless, when you’re done here, you’ll simply make your way through the giant cat flap-like door to proceed to the game’s actual carnage, and from here on out, it’s war.
In regards to the game’s complexity, there’s not really much to say. Bombfest is as simple in its concept as it is by its design. The aim of the game is to pick up bombs and throw them at your opposition in the hopes that you’ll blast them clean off the map. Should that happen, you’ll gain a point whilst they wait for the next round to begin. In the meantime, dead players are infinitely spawned in as a bomb themselves; able to roll around the map and blow up targets at will, over and over. That is, of course, until the current round ends.
Once a round is over, a scoreboard will present the scores for each participating player. This charts points, penalties, and a range of fun accolades. The player with the most points at the end of the game, wins. You’ll always know who the current leader is, thanks to a telltale crown that rests on you character’s head. This naturally makes you an instant target, throwing in another layer of tension as a result. The game’s maps have been well designed to accommodate this aspect of the game too. In fact, they’re easily my favorite component.
The map design consists of household surroundings, be it a kitchen sink, a dinner table, a toy room, or anything between. The game feeds some minor interactions here too, such as a toy train running circles around one map, or even a large Jenga stack sitting dead center of another map. The game’s achievements, or many of them, at least, tend to revolve around interacting with these set pieces in one form or another, so it pays off to check the list before you dive in, if indeed you’re a hunter of Gamerscore. That’s the general crux of play.
You and your buddies will spawn in and hammer each other to pieces until only one stands victorious. The more you play, the more you unlock. Through natural play, you’ll, as alluded to above, unlock new bombs, stages, and characters. To begin with, you have little more than a standard bomb to play around with. Though, before long, you’ll have bread-bombs that detonate on impact, landmines that explode when someone steps too close, sticky bombs that, well, stick to your opposition, and more. It’s simple, but pretty damn fun.
Once you pick up a bomb, you only have a set amount of time before it explodes. This is identifiable through its flashing red radius, telling you how close it is until it detonates, as well as how much ground its blast will cover. This tends to vary from bomb to bomb. Also, be mindful of chain reactions, these can send you all flying in a pinch. My personal favorite is the nuke, which has a massive blast radius, but an inconsistent aim. There’s several stages and bombs to play with, lending the game a fair degree of replay value as a result.
With that in mind, I still don’t see Bombfest standing the tests of time. Whilst it is indeed a good blast alongside friends and family, it all gets a bit flat and repetitive in the long run, especially when you’re playing solo. Sure, the bots are competent and serve their purpose nicely, but, it just doesn’t seem very exciting playing alone. This is one to pull out at parties or gatherings. It’s not one to pull out when you’re on your lonesome and looking to fill an afternoon. I do have a gripe with one single technical issue that persists throughout.
Several times I was forced to reboot the entire game due to a bug that seemingly freezes it up. This tended to happen when I was setting up a custom match, though, before I could dive into said match, the game would stay frozen on the character selection screen. It’s not a game breaker by any means, and a simple restart does indeed fix it, but it happens far too frequently for my liking. Hopefully the developer can address this issue swiftly. In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, I can only commend Bombfest on these fronts.
The game sports a well detailed, vibrant aesthetic. The maps, although short and single-screen, provide a charming basis for the action that sits in wait. There’s a somewhat slapstick feel to the game, with comic-like effects protruding from each and every blast. I can say the same about the game’s audio design, being that it’s been designed in such a way to uphold that family friendly vibe. The bottom line here is that although Bombfest doesn’t break new ground and eventually opens the doors to repetition, it certainly offers a sturdy foundation for a lot of tension-fueled laughter.
This is one local multiplayer bomb-based game that anyone can pick up, play, and enjoy. There’s a nice, steady influx of unlocks to earn through little more than natural play, ensuring that even the youngest and lesser skilled of players will witness everything that the game has to offer. The drawback, however, is that outside of its technical issues, it all becomes fairly repetitive before too long, more so when playing solo.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.