Little ball of fur creatures, a bobble, and a whale at the end of the world. What more could you want?
Keebles, from Burnt Fuse and Green Man Loaded, is a physics-based vehicle building puzzle game, and is due to launch on Steam today. Construct a vehicle that can make its way through various puzzle levels whilst protecting a bubble which can rescue stranded Keebles. Sounds fairly simple, doesn’t it?
There are 30 levels available in Keebles, and play starts with a preview of the current level, showing the locations of the Keebles waiting to be rescued and the hazards that the player must overcome. After the preview, it’s time to head to the workshop and start constructing a vehicle that will be capable of reaching the end of the level.
The core component in the workshop is the Bobble, a fragile bubble-like construction which is capable of picking up any lost Keebles that it happens to move near. The player will have to construct a frame around the Bobble to keep it safe, whilst including any other components needed to finish the level.
New components become available as the player progresses through the game, and each component, including the beams which can be used to make the frame in a “World of Goo” kind of way, can only be used a limited number of times. To overcome the hazards of a level, the player will have to get creative with various different types of wheel, which operate at different speeds, and other items such as parachutes, rockets and balloons to make a vehicle that can reach the end in the fastest time possible, while saving as many Keebles as it can.
Once the player has built their vehicle, they can let it loose in the level to see how it fares. The levels become progressively harder, but it is easy for the player to jump back into the workshop and tweak their creation if things don’t go quite according to plan. Should the player become completely stuck and unable to proceed, there is a hint system of sorts which offers a successful blueprint in three parts that the player can copy. The hints, which the player can access after they have failed at least once on a level, by no means instantly solve each level and the player will still have to exercise their brain in order to get all of those elusive Keebles, but they do make the game much easier. As there is no limitation on using the hints, it is up to the player to resist temptation for as long as possible to get the most out of this game.
Getting to the end of a level, the player is scored depending on how long they have taken, how many Keebles they have rescued and how many components they have used. A gold star is awarded for each of the Keebles collected, along with completing the level within a time limit and using less than the resource limit, so there will be plenty of replayability in going back to get all of the stars. There is also a speed challenge award to aim for, which will often mean abandoning those poor Keebles for a good time.
Keebles is a very pretty looking game, with bright and colourful visuals that offer more than a hint of cuteness. It is completely threat free and family friendly, a puzzle game seemingly for all of the family. However, behind the cuteness and the admittedly catchy soundtrack, lies a devilishly difficult game. Without taking advantage of the hint system, the game quickly becomes testing, especially if the player wants to get all of the stars. With the introduction of each new component, the levels get trickier and before long it is simply a struggle just to reach the end of a level. While it may look cute for kids, the first couple of levels will likely be their limit.
Make no mistake, Keebles is not a large game. But the high level of difficulty means that players will get a fair few hours of puzzling enjoyment from the title. There is a limitation imposed by the components on the amount of creativity that the player can employ. But it really is a great feeling when finally getting to the end of a tricky level with that one, difficult to rescue Keeble.
Keebles is out today for PC and Mac. Despite the cute look and seemingly low number of levels, there is a surprising amount of entertainment to be had. If tricky physics puzzles are your thing, Keebles is well worth checking out.