Keebles is a physics-based vehicle-building puzzle game which marks the first game by Australian Indie developer Burnt Fuse. The game requires you to build a range of wacky contraptions in order to save a race of small fur balls and make it to the end of the world. Trial and error is the key to this game requiring you to firstly perfect a vehicle capable of traversing the environment and secondly guide it to the goal through the use of your gadgets.
The game consists of 30 levels that get increasingly more difficult as you progress with the earlier stages acting as tutorial stages introducing to some of the vehicles features. Each of these levels has a different scenario to hold the players interest, for example one level has you building a vehicle with multiple wheels to travel over rough and broken terrain while another has you constructing a rocket to launch you over a series of mountains. In the early stages you’re limited to only a couple of items at a time to introduce you to the different gadgets. Later in the game there are still item restrictions to make the scenarios more challenging but this limits the fun you can have in the construction phase. Of course something the player needs to bear in mind is that the Bobble is a very fragile object which looks suspiciously like a large glass fish bowl so taking too much damage will cause it to break and force you to restart.
At the end of each level you are judged and given a star rating out of 5 based on the number of Keebles you successfully rescued, the time taken to reach the mushroomy goal and the number of parts used to construct your driving contraption. Collecting all of these objectives is not always possible with just one vehicle so creating multiple for different purposes is required. Of course simply creating your contraption and setting it off into the world is not always enough, the gadgets you use need to be activated manually which adds a new skillbased element. Perfecting the timing for activating your gadgets to achieve the fastest times or ensuring your parachute deploys in time can become addictive and is a welcome change to just blankly staring at your contraption and hoping that it survives to the end.
The Workshop is probably where you’ll be spending the majority of your time as the game is all about experimenting with your creations and finding which gadgets are the most ideal for given situations. The user interface for this garage setup is clear and very easy to use by dragging the tools and gadgets onto the 2D work plane, but there is a slight issue if you go to make an alteration to your design in that item selection can be a bit awkward and you can end up selecting the wrong components. The Bobble acts as the main body of your vehicle housing the Keebles you rescue along the way, and after that you have up to 4 different wheel types of varying speeds, 5 unique gadgets including ‘Puffers’ and ‘Boom Pods’ and the beams which are the glue that holds everything together.
If you are really struggling to just beat an area there is an option to get hints, these display schematics of a vehicle that is capable of completing the level but if you’re looking to gain all of the area’s rewards you’ll have to be more creative. These hints are free to use at any time and have no clear side effect which kind of takes away a little from the experience as you can just use these setups to reach the end of the game if you’re not bothered with collectables.
Environments have a brightly coloured aesthetic as you move from green woods to yellow deserts, but it’s all a bit too plain; there’s not really much going on beside the odd couple of trees and the areas are not particularly memorable. The music partially makes up for this as it’s cheery and upbeat during the levels and so weirdly addictive, that I found myself whistling it hours later. The game is not particularly long consisting of only 30 levels but there is a fair bit of replayability going back to levels to collect every Keeble in the game (90), star (150) and time challenge (30). These can all be tracked through the very Candy Crush like level selection overworld.
Keebles requires you to get creative in building your vehicles but the limitations on the tools restrict your freedom to do so. The games style is a bit unoriginal and there are a couple of minor issues with the workshop but the upbeat music, challenging levels and multiple scenarios are enough to keep you entertained.
This review is based off a review code of Keebles provided by Burnt Fuse.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.