Review – Kombinera –

Kombinera is a fast-paced, addictive and completely free puzzle game. Experience the arcade gameplay of Kombi that is easy to pick up – but hard to master. While playing you will also be earning coins that can then be used in an ever growing range of other games on the app store!

I was perplexed when I first heard about Kombinera. It wasn’t due of the idea, however. In the independent gaming environment, puzzle games with a minimalist style are plenty, so that alone wouldn’t have piqued my interest. The true reason was that Atari, as its publisher, was behind it. Yes, Atari, or the firm that will use its name in the year 2022. I was expecting them to solely put out “Recharged” versions of old vintage Atari games like Asteroids, Breakout, and Missile Command… but I wasn’t expecting them to want to be associated with a rather artistic indie game. However, after playing it for a while, I was surprised to see that such a selection made perfect sense.

Kombinera Physics

In Kombinera, you may use momentum and realistic physics to your benefit. This problem is a lot simpler than it seems.

I won’t lavish praise on Kombinera or proclaim it to be the next great thing because it isn’t. Its gameplay is unusual, and it’s often entertaining and thought-provoking, but it’s just another indie puzzler in a crowded genre. I simply didn’t expect it to seem like something Atari might have put out as an arcade game forty years ago. This puzzle game may have been a blockbuster back in 1982 or so, thanks to its old-school style, vintage color palette, easy controls, and general unpretentious attitude. This is what Atari should be concentrating on instead of simply slapping a new coat of paint on old games. Even if it isn’t flawless.

Kombinera’s principle is straightforward. In each map, your goal is to direct a small group of balls through a labyrinth until they all collide. You finish the puzzle when they all fit together. The issue is, you’re in charge of all of them at the same time and in the same direction. To make things worse, as one would imagine from a game like this, the levels are littered with traps. If any of these balls come into contact with any of the traps, you lose and must restart the problem. You can probably guess that Kombinera is the kind of game where you’ll fail a lot, cuss at the screen a lot, and rage with your friends a lot until you realize the answer was there in front of your eyes.

Kombinera Colors

Pink traps are ignored by the pink ball. Kombinera’s color-based immunity system is built on this idea.

There are a few more components that add a little spice to the mix. Some of the balls you control have different colors, which make them immune to traps of the same hue. Colored balls may be fused together to provide even more protection from traps strewn over the labyrinth. Although it isn’t revolutionary, it does make subsequent riddles more imaginative and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, in order to get there, you’ll have to go through a series of undeniably unpleasant and maddening puzzles with a wildly unpredictable difficulty curve.

Overall, the game is enjoyable to play, and I like its basic style. On occasion, I even enjoyed some of the music tracks. What I didn’t like were the game’s many confusing (and meaningless) cutscenes. They’re not just mysterious, but they also overwhelm gamers with a ton of strobing lights, which might cause photosensitive folks to pass out. I’m not afflicted with these, and in fact, the barrage of colorful flashes at the start of the game gave me a headache.

Difficulty

This is a f****** level… It irritates me to no end.

Kombinera isn’t a puzzle game that will appeal to the majority of puzzle game aficionados. It’s quite simple, and the difficulty curve is all over the place. Even so, it’s weirdly endearing. It’s entertaining because of its incredibly unique idea, as well as the fact that Atari is supporting it. At moments, it seems like I’m playing a forgotten treasure from the 1980s, a game that Atari may have produced in its glory days. Kombinera is far from perfect, and its shortcomings are obvious, but if you’re looking for a hard puzzle game, give it a try… unless you’re prone to seizures. Then stay away from it like the plague.

 

The simple visual approach is ok with me. On the other hand, the seizure-inducing “cutscenes” do not sit well with me.

This clever puzzle-platforming game is simple to pick up but very tough to master. Because the difficulty climbs up so rapidly, you’ll angrily quit a few times.

The music in Kombinera isn’t horrible, although there isn’t much of it to begin with. It is easily forgotten.

Kombinera is a very basic game that might be irritating at times. Still, something about it, and the fact that Atari chose to associate its brand with it, makes it worthwhile to play. It’s almost like you’re playing a long-forgotten arcade classic from the 1980s.

Final Score: 7.0

Kombinera is currently available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox One S/X, PC, Switch, and Atari VCS.

On the Xbox Series S, the game was reviewed.

The publisher donated a copy of Kombinera.

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