What a pleasant surprise Bang-On Balls Chronicles Early Access turned out to be. Admittedly, the title made me laugh when I first saw it and was compelling enough for me to post a news piece.
Well, now that it’s officially out as an Early Access, what the devil is it like – brill or balls? If you’re not a fan of reading and usually skip to the end for the score, let me save you the scrolling: this is a must if you like open-world platformers.
Bang-On Balls Chronicles Early Access isn’t precisely a platformer in the conventional sense as you don’t have the appendages to propel yourself in the air, but that doesn’t stop you from bouncing your balls off ledges and enemy domes.
Bang-On Balls Chronicles Early Access Review
I didn’t have a preconceived impression of what to expect from Bang-On Balls Chronicles. Admittedly, there was the feeling that this might be a bit of a novelty or casual type game that would be fun but not something to play continually.
However, I like it when I’m wrong – especially when it’s a good thing. Bang-On Balls Chronicles is perhaps one of the best looking open-world games I’ve played, and the experience of playing is just as good.
The mechanics are the same as any other game of its ilk as you jump, double jump and dash all over the place. Without those appendages mentioned, you also sport a shield to deflect incoming attacks, so it’s all familiar territory.
What’s so different about this game is how diverse it is. The levels are large and offer numerous terrains while still being in tune with the theme it represents. The Viking theme, for example, is evident based on the architecture and enemies where you are, but the outer grounds are just as engaging as the forts/castles you siege.
There’s nothing wrong with having an open-world adventure such as Bang-On Balls Chronicles Early Access appear on PC. It’s the platform’s flexibility with its Early Access opportunity that allows a game to be tweaked the right way, focusing on the balls and not the nipples.
But I have to say that this is a game that will find a broader audience on consoles. That’s a sweeping statement without any evidence, but I’d put Bang-On Balls Chronicles on par with Astro’s Playroom, and if Exit Plan Games were able to fiddle with the DualSense, this would be a winner.
You receive a series of objectives for each stage – primarily destruction, plus you’ll need to save your people too. As with Astro’s Playroom, you’ll find various NPCs in the wild doing their own thing, and despite being an ‘as hard as nails alpha male’, I found it incredibly cute. I can write whatever I like. I resemble Adonis too.
Because of these artistic choices, the game feels lived in. Not in the sense of something like Medieval Dynasty with peasants going about their daily routines. When typing up notes, I could see other characters perform activities way off in the distance without my input.
What draws me most to the game is the artwork. The scenery is absolutely stunning; the colours blend and all the character models have this polish about them, with subtle nods to low-poly aesthetics.
Even more important, for me, is the vast customisation. It makes zero difference to the gameplay, but as seen in the brief gameplay video I made, I was almost desperate to unlock a moustache for my character. Wear silly hats, different shields, and you have even make your balls smell. IRL.
When the press material went out for Bang-On Balls Chronicles Early Access, it was an amusing read, and because of this self-awareness, it felt like it might be a bit of a joke. It’s in the title, as well, and that’s why I assumed it would be a casual game.
That said, it’s very family safe unless you’re against comical violence of bouncing on things and causing destruction. It’s not bloody, it’s not crass, and the controls meant that anyone could pick it up – hence I invited my children to play too, who loved it.
Balls For All
Bang-On Balls Chronicles Early Access isn’t solely a kids game and offers plenty of challenge. It’s far from a rogue-like, but even if you find the game easy, it’s the exploration that’s so enjoyable too. There aren’t any timers, so you can bathe in these themed worlds.
It has all the hallmarks of a classic platform game. Besides Astro’s Playroom, it shares similar qualities with games such as the Rayman series as you rescue your kin from traps while using the double jump then dash to smash through a locked door.
There’s also co-op and multiplayer available, but I’ll have to admit that I haven’t got around to that yet. I seldom get involved in online gaming, but I would happily play this with my kids as a multiplayer instead of taking turns. Another reason why this would be great on consoles in the future, huddled around the TV instead of the workstation.
As it’s Early Access, there’s no score at this time, but believe me, this ranks really high and one of the best games in the genre, in my opinion. I look forward to more customisations along the way and dabbling a bit with multiplayer in the coming weeks.
A definite recommendation from me. If words aren’t enough, I’m gradually getting with the times and posting videos now and again: in this case, unadulterated gameplay. As noted in the video, the frames are a bit choppy, but that’s down to my setup at the moment.
More details/wishlist/purchase at the link below.