Kombinera Review

When the store description of Kombinera begins with “formidable puzzles” it’d be wise to believe them as they are not mucking about. I love these sorts of puzzle games but this is one of the hardest ones I’ve played in a long time. That difficulty is a blessing and a curse though.

The basic concept is – as ever – simple. There are two or more balls or various colours within each small puzzle stage that we must reunite in order to pass the level. However, we control all of the balls on screen at the same time, so moving the stick left moves all the balls left etc. Again, not so hard to grasp.

But then, Graphite Lab also introduce various coloured hazards that can only be safely traversed by the same colour ball. Oftentimes, they place the wrong coloured ball precariously close to each hazard, and so it becomes a game of not only logic but skill as we try to deftly move each ball around without failing. Making use of the environment to ‘hold’ balls we can get them into better positions and the like, but as you might expect, that is easier said than done. If we can get two balls together, they merge into one allowing both colours to traverse both sets of coloured obstacles.

Using these basic rules, Graphite Labs have devised some fiendishly difficult stages almost from the word go. As I say, it’s not just figuring out the way to get the balls together, but actually doing it as well. We are equipped with two jumps of different heights and there are some rudimentary physics in play, allowing us to wangle some lucky breaks if we can get a ball to just tip over an edge without us having to roll further.

But more often than not they require some precise, quick platforming to solve. Each stage in only a matter of seconds long once solved, but I’ve found myself stuck on several for minutes at a time. We do have a slight helping hand in the transparent grid that backs the puzzles. This helps us figure out how far away each ball in in relation to each other, but that’s about the only concession we get.

There are some stages that feel almost impossible at first that are then solved with some outside the box thinking. Others are a struggle just simply because of those rudimentary physics – I found sometimes the bigger jump didn’t reliably reach as high as I know it can, causing me to fail a set-up and have to restart. However, it is super satisfying to finally crack a level and move on. The balance might be slightly too far in the difficult end of the scale, but it does mean the sense of reward is that bit greater when we finally do it!

I will admit though that this is a title I’m unlikely to see the end of anytime soon. There are 300 levels (plus hidden bonus ones) to beat and at just about level 70 I’m already hitting road blocks at almost every turn. I will absolutely be coming back for more to try and get to the end, but be prepared for a hell of a challenge if you decide to pick up Kombinera.


Kombinera is a hell of a challenge, though at the same time its also quite fun to put ourselves to the test to try and best it. For such a simple premise, Graphite Labs have packed this charming puzzler with enough challenge to last us a long time indeed.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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  • Simple to grasp concept
  • Bright, colourful visuals
  • Lots of levels to play...
  • ...if you can get to them
  • Music is annoying and repetitve
Gameplay - 8.2
Graphics - 7.5
Audio - 4
Longevity - 8.8
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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