I'm always shocked to see what small teams, and sometimes even just a singular person, can accomplish in the world of game development. To think that the mind behind Stardew Valley is a one-man show is legitimately mind-blowing. And yet we're seeing more and more games come out from solo creators. Many of them are indeed hot garbage, but every now and then, you get a good one like today's hidden gem, Bomb Club, developed by Antoine Latour.
Bomb Club is a puzzle game through and through, featuring a motley crew of bomb enthusiasts doing what they do best: setting off bombs. Very easy to pick up, completely free, and with zero ads, Bomb Club is among the better free puzzle games I've played in quite a while.
A family-friendly game, Bomb Club has straightforward mechanics anyone can enjoy. Set over levels that progress through distinct stages, the game has you play through increasingly complex bomb-based puzzles. The goal in each level is to explode every last bomb on the field. As a bonus, you've usually got a few fireworks peppered throughout the area that will net you a higher score if you're able to detonate them, too.
The challenging "puzzle" element stems from the restriction that each level is one big chain reaction: you can only set off one bomb to start the chain. Levels are often split up into different sections of bombs, sometimes even completely different islands, so figuring out how to trigger each bomb is where the puzzling aspect really comes into play.
On top of that, literally, are a few extra fun factors that help spice things up. For one, you can put cute little hats on top of bombs, which is just adorable. You have a limited number of hats, each with different abilities, but their base function is to change how bombs react, altering your options for how you can complete your chain.
Two, you'll start to encounter more and more types of bombs are you progress. Some, like super bombs, require multiple bombs around them to detonate before they'll go off. Others may be baby bombs that only impact a tiny radius around them. Each of these affects how your chain can come together and has a massive impact on whether or not your bomb placements can catch those coveted fireworks.
In any case, failure to detonate a single bomb in your chain means you can't progress, so you'll have to restart the level. Fireworks are optional, which makes progression a little easier if you find yourself stuck. Each level starts with static bombs on the field and gives you "bomb cards" you can place anywhere you want. Figuring out the right placement makes for a nice mix of challenge and good ol' fashioned fun.
The icing on the cake is that Bomb Club has a surprising amount of charm and humor baked into it. The main cast of the Bomb Club—Maggie, Ian, Blake, and Jon—are a bunch of quirky, high-spirited youths wearing wild outfits and giant animal heads. Certain aspects of the design feel vaguely reminiscent of Five Nights at Freddy's, though maybe I'm reading too much into it. Each of them has a fleshed-out personality, and the dialogue is funny and believable. They are both your tutorial and your focal point for the story, and they do a great job of keeping things entertaining between levels.
The Bomb Club is investigating a bit of a mystery, too. The rag-tag bunch of explosion-loving adrenaline junkies aren't violent anarchists; they typically confine their bomb-detonating hobby to the safety of their club. And yet someone has been leaving bombs all over their city. It doesn't seem to have been anyone from the club, so who could possibly be behind this wanton disregard for bomb safety?!
As much as I love the mechanics and story, there are a couple of small additions I'd love to see. One, it would be a nice quality-of-life feature to be able to skip the bomb detonation animation after you've already completed a level once before. It can be a little frustrating to sit through a chain reaction scene again when you're trying out different bomb placements combos to maximize your score.
Two, the soundtrack isn't bad by any means, but I would love to have more of it. I actually really enjoyed the soundtrack's high-energy, chiptune stylings, but a few different tracks to cycle through from level to level would have been a nice extra touch.
All things considered, Bomb Club is an enjoyable puzzler made much more impressive by the fact that just one person developed it. I would highly recommend it, particularly because it's absolutely free to play, has no ads whatsoever, and has no microtransactions other than optional post-game DLC that you can purchase if you're really loving the game and want more of it.
Who left all of these loose bombs laying around?!
A fun, charming, and completely free puzzler celebrating the pure joy of watching things blow up. What more could you ask for?
A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.