I’ll admit that I judged this game by its cover, or it’s trailer to be more accurate, and didn’t think much of it when it was pushed my way for review duties. Bombfest just looks a little… bleh… and I’m ashamed to say I judged it before I even played it. While my shame will subside over time, my fun with this game will, hopefully, only grow. It turns out it’s actually a really decent little party game!
Bombfest is a mixture of Bomberman and the Super Smash Bros. games. Not in looks, but more in how it plays. It’s very simple to pick up and get stuck in, though I have one small thing to admit before I carry on with this review. The first time you boot up the game and play by yourself, you’re presented with a practice area. This practice area is to get you familiar with the very simple controls before you head on out to play the main game. I spent a good 45 minutes in this area, constantly throwing bombs into the flap covering a hole. I assumed that this is where the bombs were supposed to go and that I had to throw a certain number in for the game to see that I’m now a master of its simple control scheme. Don’t make the same mistake that I did. Once you’re ready, throw yourself through the flap and into the hole. This is how you tell the game you’re ready. Maybe my shame will never truly subside…
Anyway. Once you’ve done the practice board you’re able to start playing for real. My first grievance with Bombfest is the complete lack of online multiplayer. This is a game that begs to be played with others, but if you don’t have the controllers or people available, you’re stuck playing against the game’s A.I. That’s not entirely terrible, I suppose, as the A.I works well enough and provides more than a decent challenge. But then again, victory feels a little shallow if you’re not beating a real person. I did get to play with my partner, but I never got to try out the game with four players.
The aim of the game is simple:
Well, it’s more than just that. You need to actively work to eliminate your opponents, and this is where the fun lies. As I mentioned earlier, the game employs a very simple control scheme. You’ll move your blocky, toy-like character with the analog stick, you’ll pick up bombs with the circle button, and you’ll dive out of the way with the cross button. And that’s it. The controls couldn’t be simpler. It makes it the perfect pick-up-and-play game. My lady, who doesn’t game much outside of The Sims, found it easy enough to compete with me, and even bag herself a few victories along the way. That’s how easy it is.
The simplicity isn’t a hinderance and I’d never think twice about complaining about it. It’s a definite highpoint for the game and it makes it all the more accessible to non-gamers. Picking up bombs is done with a single tap of a button, and throwing said bombs is done with yet another single tap of the same button. The aim is to knock the other players out of the arena and be the last one standing. The last player left alive takes the lion’s share of the points, while points are also doled out for eliminating players. It’s possible, then, to win an entire game by just staying clear of danger and surviving until the end of the round. Not that that’s any fun, mind you, but it’s possible to win by pacifism alone.
Again, the game looks simple but there’s more beneath the surface. Tensions can run high during the heat of battle. I’ve had some rounds go on for a minutes, other for mere seconds. Things can get chaotic very fast in those little arenas. Bombs and other objects drop from the sky for you to use as weapons. All the while, those who’ve been eliminated can take on the role of a bomb. Death isn’t the end and you can exact your revenge by influencing bombs. I’ve received my fair share of rib pokes and slaps around the head for doing this. Perhaps that’s why the omission of online multiplayer hurts so much, like, literally.
The game’s arenas – or boards – tend to be really small, too. It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on and I had more than a few cheap losses because I couldn’t clearly see where my character was on the playing area. Then again, any bigger and things would be a lot slower and the game would lose its fast-paced action as it relies on players being able to get stuck right into the action the moment a round starts.
There’s plenty to do and see in Bombfest. Well, more of the latter than the former. As you play you’ll unlock new bombs with special abilities, new cosmetic items to tart up your favourite character, and even modifiers to twist the gameplay to your liking. I’ve played around five or six hours now and I’m nowhere near unlocking everything. Unfortunately, I can’t see that changing anytime soon. It’s a struggle to get the Mrs to play at the best of times, and while playing against the A.I is alright, it’s just not the same as playing against real people. It is a party game, after all, and I can’t imagine being at a party or a rave with A.I would be as much fun as it would be with my mates.
The game’s developer, Sudden Event Studios, has more content planned for Bombfest. That’s all good and well and I appreciate their best intentions, but if those updates don’t include online functionality, I’m afraid that Bombfest may be over before it’s really had a chance to begin. I really like the game and I’ll play it at every given opportunity, but as a grown-arse man with a career, a kid, and a ton of other games that I have to play for Pure PlayStation, Bombfest will have to do a little more to steal my time – and I suspect that’ll ring true for a lot of you reading this.
Bombfest PS4 Review
Bombfest is a great idea that’s just missing one crucial piece of the puzzle: online play. I’m not normally one to care for such things, but Bombfest would benefit exponentially from being able to play with others. As it stands, it’s a decent game if you can get a few mates to join in and there’s a lot to collect if you’re a solo player who doesn’t mind playing with A.I opponents.
Fast, chaotic gameplay
Good fun with friends
Simple, easy to pick up and play
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)