Overall Score 42%
Break-Out The Bible
When I first saw the title of this game, I thought that it might be some kind of Christian trivia game, where teams of players would race to look up various stories and events as told in the bible and compete in a race around a board of some kind. Alas, ďBreakout the BibleĒ is quite literally a breakout clone using an enchanted bible as a paddle, and where each round of the game takes place on a board that has been themed on a book of the bible.
Just to quickly clarify, for those that have never played a breakout style game before, this genre sees the player typically using a paddle at the bottom of the screen to keep a bouncing ball in play. The ball is used to break bricks on the playfield, and the player scores points for progressively removing bricks from the screen. Once all bricks are cleared, the player moves on to the next level.
As a breakout clone, the game is not really that much fun to play. There are a number of fundamental flaws that make the gameplay quite tedious and unappealing to me. Firstly, most of the bricks on each board need to be hit multiple times in order to break them. A few of these kind of bricks in a well designed level can be fun, but nearly all of them in Breakout the Bible need 3 hits to break them. Then, coupled with that, is the way that the ball does not follow a logical path when hitting bricks or the top wall. Both of these objects (it would seem) are treated as a paddle. For example, if the ball hits the top wall travelling on a perpendicular path to it in the left hand top corner of the screen, the ball will then rebound sharply towards the left hand wall rather than straight back down to the paddle as I would expect. The ball also acts unpredictably when hitting the smallish bricks, making any plays at the bottom of the playfield very frustrating. Itís almost impossible to strategically aim for rebound shots off the side and top wall. Seemingly to a veteran Breakout player, the ball is just bouncing around at random angles off everything. In effect, each level takes far too long to clear even after the level has got to a point where this is inevitable. The last 5 to 10 bricks are a real chore to clear!
The game could compensate for this by offering a large assortment of powerups to help keep things interesting, but in fact, there are just 3 on offer. One of these is the extra life pickup. The player starts each game with 3 bibles each with 3 mini-lives each for 9 chances total. But often the life counter becomes bugged especially when lots of these extra life pickups are activated. The player seems to sometimes be able to keep playing forever when the count of the current paddle is down to 1 mini-life. I havenít been able to identify exactly what causes this behaviour yet. The other two pickups are almost identical, one providing an extra ball in play when hit, and the other one doing the same thing but with a slightly bigger ball. Where are the powerups to increase size and speed of the paddle? Explosive balls? Balls that pass through and destroy all in their path? Paddle shot? Fire balls? None of these staples of modern-day Breakout games are anywhere to be seen, and the gameplay suffers because of it. Even more annoyingly, powerups will sometimes appear at the top or sides of the screen, only to disappear almost instantaneously.
There are options to change the screen resolution, but when I run Breakout the Bible at my laptopís native resolution of 1400x900 the paddle continually shifts to the left! At 1024x768 and 1280x720 the game plays satisfactorily (other modes not tested). As the paddle is controlled by the mouse, options are also available to adjust the sensitivity of mouse movement as well.
Without a doubt, the biggest drawcard that Breakout the Bible has going for it would be appeal to Christian gamers. The desire to keep grinding through the levels and to unlock all the books of the bible might be enough to keep them coming back. I would estimate that the game would take upwards of 10 hours to complete at the pace I have been getting through it. After around 90 minutes of play I have unlocked up to Nehemiah, and really canít see myself going much further. There is a curiosity to see what the next background might be (each level has unique and corresponding artwork to the book of the bible that it represents), but the tedium of the gameplay works against this title.
I donít really have any complaints with the interface, graphics or sounds. The music tracks selected are quite calming and fit the theme of the game well. All actions seem to be accompanied by good sound effects, and the artwork used as backgrounds is both varied and interesting. At $4 it canít be said that the developer is asking too much for the effort involved in making a game, but in my opinion, the game is flawed badly in terms of gameplay mechanics and lasting appeal. Christian breakout fans might enjoy the progress from Genesis to Revelation and bible quotes that accompany each level, but for the rest of us, there are many better breakout games available both at an indie level and even all over the PC freeware scene.
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