Edited by: Jade Swann
Abrakadaboom is a light-hearted reskin and retheme of the Bomberman games, developed by Argonauts Studios. As wizards, you fight your friends or bots in various arenas with different challenges/game modes. Instead of bombs, you toss magic orbs as you interact with the arena and dash away from enemy wizards. Much of the strategy relies on orb placement, orb toss timing, and interacting with the environment for power-ups.
There are a few key differences that keep Abrakadaboom unique from the Bomberman franchise.
The first difference is genre. While Bomberman is sci-fi, Abrakadaboom is based in fantasy lore. Magic is based on the elements, and during the Early Access stage, there are five magic types and elements: Arcana, Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. These elements have different fighting perks, such as shields and tossing characters, which correspond to the different arenas.
On a more detailed level, the title differs in the gameplay after you die. Abrakadaboom doesn’t allow you to play in a support role like Bomberman did, with it possibly even allowing you to swap in. Instead, when you die in Abrakadaboom, you get to watch, even if there are only bots left. However, at least you can fast forward to the end of the game once the human wizards are dead. This feature is nice because you don’t have to watch the bot wizards battle it out for too long.
Some of the arenas are also different from Bomberman, giving Abrakadaboom a fresh perspective in the casual PvP multiplayer genre. I especially enjoyed the lava arena that formed new terrain on the left while destroying terrain on the right, forcing you to continue moving sideways. Different arenas also let you interact more or less with the terrain, giving you various types of gameplay and strategy.
At the start of Early Access in April, there were a few bugs that I wasn’t sure were bugs or extra challenging elements of gameplay.
If you toss an orb onto a wall within the arena, it will get stuck and won’t explode. As you can only have one orb at a time, this effectively removes you from active gameplay. You can dodge orbs and try to outlive the other wizards, but you won’t be able to eliminate other players. I’m not sure if this is supposed to happen and add an extra challenge to aiming the orbs, or if I’m running into a bug.
The orbs can also be caught in the air after tossing them and they won’t explode. When this happens, unlike the orbs stuck on the walls, you can pick them back up and toss them again. Because you’re able to collect the orb, I’m not sure if them getting stuck in the air is a bug or not, but after you collect the orb, you can hold on to it indefinitely unlike normal gameplay, as through this bug it will never explode on you.
I didn’t notice much of a difference between the different difficulty levels for the bots.
The bot’s easy mode isn’t a walk in the park and still requires some skill to beat. Hard mode isn’t much harder than easy mode. So while the bots are still fun and allow an enjoyable single-player experience, I had hoped for the hard mode to be more challenging.
Abrakadaboom’s game controls leave room for improvement.
While the title suggests using a controller, I found using the keyboard to be more precise during gameplay. While the Bomberman franchise relies on quick movements and directional turns to defeat the more difficult levels and bosses, these precise movements are not possible with a joystick and thus give the bots an increased advantage if you’re playing with a controller. This is more apparent when you increase the speed in the settings, as the bots will still have precise movements and you’ll find the game nearly unplayable, especially if you’re using a joystick.
Additionally, you can’t use the keyboard and a Steam controller at the same time for multiplayer. During Early Access, the game reads both as player one, so you can never set up one or the other as a second player. If you want to play multiplayer, you must have two controllers.
The Verdict: Good
Overall, Abrakadaboom is a good game if you enjoy the genre, but there is some work to be smoothed out during the Early Access phase. If you’re into fantasy elements and magic, then this version of Bomberman is worth playing. The strategy is great, it’s a fun, casual PvP title to play locally with your friends, and you can finally fulfil your desire to drop magic bombs — I mean orbs — on each other from afar or up close. Or you can even lob the magic bombs over walls, exploding them as they land because you held on to them just… long… enough.